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7 March, 2005

Citizenship: response to Howard and Woodhead

Citizenship in the Curriculum: political effectiveness not political correctness.

We are intrigued by Michael Howard’s recent comment that Citizenship is the subject in which pupils are most likely to misbehave, and by the suggestion in the media that Citizenship would be a target in a review of the National Curriculum to be led by Chris Woodhead under a future Conservative administration.

Citizenship became a National Curriculum subject in September 2002 following the recommendations of an independent all-party advisory committee, led by Professor Sir Bernard Crick, and on which former Conservative Education Secretary Kenneth Baker played a key role.

A core objective of National Curriculum Citizenship is to promote in young people a healthy and informed interest in political activity and community life through a framework that focuses on rights and responsibilities. It involves providing opportunities for all pupils to engage in educational activities such as mock elections and mock parliaments – both of which are supported by MPs from all parties, including Michael Howard.

We agree with Michael Howard that young people are helped to become responsible citizens by learning about Britain's traditions: the rule of law, parliamentary democracy, trial by jury. It is the Citizenship curriculum that provides the vital space in which teaching and learning about these traditions can take place.

Citizenship is not about 'political correctness' but it is about political effectiveness - the effectiveness of all of us to function successfully in a democracy.

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