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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 hear 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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Notes for editors:

1. Citizenship Education

Citizenship became a (compulsory) subject of the National Curriculum in secondary schools in August 2002. In its evidence to the current Select Committee investigation into the teaching of Citizenship, the Citizenship Foundation has called for Citizenship to be accorded the same statutory status in primary schools.

2. The Citizenship Foundation

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, it focuses on developing young people’s citizenship skills, knowledge and understanding. Its work includes resources, training, active learning programmes, community projects and research. www.citizenshipfoundation.org.uk

3. Diversity & Dialogue

The Diversity and Dialogue programme is managed by an advisory group with representation from a range of secular and faith-based organisations. Diversity and Dialogue brings young people together to work together for a sense of shared citizenship. In its first two years, Diversity and Dialogue directly supported 300 young people aged 14-19 in projects in London, Yorkshire, the North West and Birmingham; and produced educational resources for teachers, youth workers, young people, and organisations. An online directory of over 100 diversity projects has been established and its website provides communication, advice and support. Subject to the confirmation of funding, the Citizenship Foundation will host and coordinate the programme from January 2007, a role previously undertaken by another of the partner organisations, Save the Children.


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