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30 March, 2007

Time for Primary Citizenship to be Statutory says Citizenship Foundation

Citizenship Education under-recognised and under-developed in the primary phase says the Foundation.

“Citizenship Education is essential to individual empowerment. Not only should it be statutory, it should be a core element of the primary curriculum, integrating taught and experiential learning in a coherent way leading towards a full understanding of what it means to be a member of the community with rights and responsibilities,” says the Citizenship Foundation’s submission to the primary review.

The submission states that the teaching Citizenship in the primary phase presents an important opportunity for children to make sense of our changing society and failure to do so results in developmental delay in this area.

With the age of criminal responsibility lowered to ten, the earlier onset of adolescence and the recent findings from the UNICEF report on children’s wellbeing, the submission states that it is now more important than ever for children to be given the opportunity to develop the necessary skills, language and confidence to enable them to participate fully in decision making processes and develop a clearer understanding of their legal and moral responsibilities.

The submission also states that Citizenship education provides an opportunity for broadening cultural, social and political horizons, particularly in respect to developing a sense of identity and an appreciation of diversity in our society. By offering a context through which children can develop critical thinking skills and emotional literacy in a coherent and integrated way, children are given the chance to develop understanding and foster empathy before attitudes become entrenched.

Author Marguerite Heath explains “Children are more likely to recall matters that are important to them. Citizenship education tackles real issues of relevance and value to them, such as fairness, bullying and responsibility for the environment. Indeed Citizenship can provide a meaningful context for much of the primary curriculum.”

Making Citizenship education statutory in the primary phase would also providing a sound foundation for Key Stages 3 and 4, which are already on the National Curriculum.

Notes for editors:

1. About 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

2. About the Primary Review

The Primary Review is a wide-ranging and independent enquiry into the condition and future of primary education in England. It is supported by Esmée Fairbairn Foundation and based at Cambridge University Faculty of Education. It will be perhaps the most comprehensive such investigation since the publication of the Plowden Report in 1967.


3. About the Citizenship Foundation submission’s Authors

Marguerite Heath is an experienced Primary Headteacher who now directs the Go-Givers programme at the Citizenship Foundation. Go-Givers is a major new resource for teaching and learning about Citizenship in primary schools which is to be launched in June 2007.

Don Rowe is Director, Curriculum Resources at the Citizenship Foundation and a co-founder of the Foundation. He has published and advised widely on Citizenship Education in Primary and Secondary schools.

Tony Breslin is Chief Executive at the Citizenship Foundation and has published and advised widely on Citizenship Education and in a range of related educational fields.

Ted Huddleston is a Project Manager at the Citizenship Foundation, and currently leads on the Citizenship Manifesto programme. He has published and advised widely on Citizenship Education.

Elizabeth Griffiths is an experienced primary practitioner working on the development of Go-Givers at the Citizenship Foundation.

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