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7 March, 2005

Citizenship in the Curriculum: political effectiveness not political correctness

The Citizenship Foundation responds to Michael Howard’s speech on ‘Education as Opportunity’ [6 March 2005] and Chris Woodhead’s comments on his proposed role reviewing the National Curriculum under a future Conservative Government.

We are intrigued by Michael Howard’s comment that Citizenship is the subject in which pupils are most likely to misbehave and 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.

To find out more please email:

Notes for editors:

The Citizenship Foundation is an independent charity (no. 801360) which aims to empower individuals to engage in the wider community through education about the law, democracy and society. Founded in 1989, we focus particularly on developing young people’s citizenship skills, knowledge and understanding.

Our work includes:

- A comprehensive range of citizenship resources for a wide audience from teachers to young offenders.

- Nationwide and international training programmes.

- National active learning projects for secondary schools.

- Community projects to develop citizenship education as a collective responsibility.

- Research to advance our understanding of best practice in citizenship education.

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