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7 December, 2011

Conservative Peer defends citizenship teaching

Citizenship teaching is 'an essential component of a healthy democracy' and should be 'given far greater priority,' said Lord Norton of Louth today.

In an article for Democratic Life, the Conservative Peer argues that his Government should be embracing citizenship education ‘with vigour'.

'Our lives are shaped by what law permits and what it does not permit,' he says, citing as examples the legal ages for buying cigiarettes, leaving school, voting and getting married.

'Parliament does not exist in a vacuum. Laws are made as a result of a particular party being elected to government on a particular programme of public policies. It may respond to pressures from the public to introduce new laws or to change existing ones.'

Understanding the law-making process is important for civic engagement, he says, but also for influencing our own futures.

'If we do not understand the political process, we cannot expect to be able to influence the outcomes of public policy.

'But how to ensure people have a grasp of the political process?' Not, he says, by leaving it to the choice of which subject to take at GCSE or A Level.

'Citizenship teaching,' argues Lord Norton, 'Should not be viewed as some optional extra but rather as an essential component of a healthy democracy. It needs not only to be defended but also promoted and, indeed, given far greater priority.

'Far from moving away from it, Government needs to be embracing it and with vigour.'

Read 'The necessity of teaching citizenship' by Lord Norton of Louth in full on democraticlife.org.uk.


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