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14 April, 2011

Citizenship Foundation gives evidence to the National Curriculum Review

The UK Government has been seeking evidence for its review of the National Curriculum, which will decide the future of citizenship as a curriculum subject. We believe strongly in the subject and have told the Review team as much.

Our response is an adjunct to the substantive one submitted yesterday by Democratic Life. In it we argue that formal education must help young people develop the knowledge, understanding and skills they need to play an effective role in public life. Without those skills, we wonder, how can they be expected to make informed, responsible and positive contributions to our economy and democratic society?

We believe that preparation for further education and employment is not enough: those do not sit in a vacuum separate from civic society. If, as a society, we believe formal education to be the most appropriate mechanism for preparing ourselves for employment, then we must also recognise it as important preparation for our place in society as a whole.

'The National Curriculum should not only prepare students for further education and employment, it must also equip them with the knowledge, understanding and skills they need to play an effective role in public life. As 2010’s IEA study of Civics and Citizenship (ICCS) shows ... students with higher civic knowledge reported greater likelihood to participate in elections and in society now and in the future.[1] Citizenship knowledge is therefore essential to developing politically literate, responsible and active citizens who can make a positive contribution to our economy, communities and democratic society.'

'Citizenship is a unique subject combining academic knowledge of politics, law and the economy with practical social action. No other subject addresses these areas of knowledge or skills. It teaches students knowledge of democracy, including political institutions, parliament and government; justice, including the operation of the justice system, the law and the courts; rights and responsibilities including political, legal and human rights; identities and diversity, including how British society is changing; how devolved government and politics work; the role of the UK internationally.

'This essential knowledge is contextualised and brought to life through the critical exploration of contemporary local, national, European and international issues and examples.'

Read our evidence in full (on Scribd.com).

[1] The ICCS surveyed over 140,000 students in more than 5,300 schools from 38 countries including Finland, Korea, Taipei, Sweden, Ireland, Norway, Spain and England. Student data were augmented by data from more than 62,000 teachers in those schools. ICCS published an International Report and a European Report in late November 2010. (See IEA (2010). ICCS 2009 International Report: Civic knowledge, attitudes and engagement among lower secondary school students in thirty-eight countries. Amsterdam.)


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