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10 July, 2006

Inside Britain: A Guide to the UK Constitution launched

Independent educational charity, the Citizenship Foundation today launched a new guide designed to raise students’ understanding and interest in the UK Constitution. ‘Inside Britain: A Guide to the UK Constitution’ has been designed with a youth rich focus and is the first of its kind to be aimed specifically at 15-19 year olds.

'Inside Britain' book launch.
Lord Falconer with students from George Greens School, Isle of Dogs

Published in a similar format to the Foundation’s award winning Young Citizen’s Passport, the guide has been designed to be an accessible, 144 page A5 booklet in full colour, written in plain English in an objective and easy to read format using case studies and examples.

It is divided into three sections on: The Individual and the State; Government; and Democracy and Justice. It has been written to support the teaching of the citizenship curriculum in an accessible and informative way, to widen the scope of teaching about the constitution and to increase young people’s knowledge and understanding of the powers and responsibilities of the state.

Speaking about the guide co-author Tony Thorpe said “Political and legal literacy are important elements of the citizenship curriculum, but these are areas on which relatively few teachers have had any kind of specialist training.

The guide is an attempt to address this. It is also important that, as educators, we help students to clarify and understand as much as they can about the constitutional aspects of the society.

Political literacy is important for the functioning of any democracy, and arguably teachers owe it to their students to help them make sense of the society in which they live.”

Lord Falconer, Secretary of State for Constitutional Affairs, who spoke at the launch said: “what impresses me most about this guide is the way in which it explains a complex and involved subject in a way that is current, but that never once underestimates its audience. It is relevant but intelligent.” He added “The guide will be a valuable resource to schools teaching the citizenship agenda – it will be pertinent to students and incredibly useful to a number of adults I know in explaining the process by which this country is governed.”

Alan Johnson, Secretary of State for Education and Skills, who also spoke at the launch added: "It is vital that young people are actively involved in the democratic process, participating positively not only in school life, but also in the community and wider society. Such participation is a key part of the citizenship curriculum, but nobody can be active in a knowledge vacuum.

"This new guide to the UK Constitution will be a valuable classroom tool, providing the facts and information young people need to understand democratic processes, what drives them and the changes that shape and influence our past and our future. The disturbing decline in the number of young people voting in parliamentary and local elections provides an added imperative to this initiative."

'Inside Britain: A guide to the UK Constitution' is written by Tony Thorpe and Richard Jarvis. It is published by Hodder Murray, priced £5.99.

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