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12 December, 2006

PM backs citizenship education: But fair resourcing needed

The Citizenship Foundation welcomes the Prime Minister’s recent call for multicultural Britain to be celebrated, and in particular his unequivocal support for the role of citizenship education at the heart of the national curriculum. However, unless sufficient resources are now made available, the opportunity to build cohesive communities offered by the place of citizenship education in the curriculum, will be lost.

Tony Breslin, Chief Executive at the Foundation, said “Citizenship education is the means through which individuals develop the knowledge, skills and values that are key both to an effective democracy and to a society that rests on the foundations of respect and fairness.”

Tony added “Citizenship education encourages understanding and respect for all faiths, cultures and beliefs and promotes open, informed and honest debate in the classroom. The Citizenship Foundation also welcomes the Prime Minister’s recognition of the positive impact that school twinning can have on young people’s understanding, empathy and respect for others. There is well evidenced good practice in the primary sector that this approach can be very effective. What is needed now are significant resources to expand these programmes nationally and develop similar models at secondary level and with mono-cultural secular schools.”

The Diversity and Dialogue programme, that promotes interfaith activites amongst young people (in which the Citizenship Foundation is a partner), has found that bringing young people together through a structured intervention makes a significant contribution to community cohesion. Becky Hatch, Diversity and Dialogue programme director, said “ We have found that young people welcome opportunities to interact with people from different faiths and cultures. They want to learn more about controversial political and global issues in a safe environment. But teachers and other adults working with young people need better support and guidance in this difficult area, such as that provided by Diversity and Dialogue so that they can provide education that works.”

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