'Citizenship education matters,' says Radio 1's Reggie Yates

Friday 30 September 2011

Hands Up Who’s Bored, a new campaign to protect the future of political education, has been backed by celebrity Reggie Yates and a £1.25 million cinema promotion.

With the Government considering the fate of citizenship education as part of its ongoing review of the national curriculum, this new campaign launches today to inspire young people to stand up for their right to receive a proper political education.

If citizenship education was demoted to an optional subject as part of the curriculum review, it would leave Britain as the only developed country in the world that fails to teach young people about the workings of its political system.

Political activist and young campaigner Danny Bartlett has launched the Hands Up, Who’s Bored? campaign to ensure a right to proper political education is protected in the National Curriculum and young people leave school as informed citizens, with knowledge of their rights, duties and responsibilities.

With backing from O2’s Think Big programme, and support of radio DJ and TV presenter Reggie Yates, Danny is calling on young people to contribute to a national picture petition and pledge their support for citizenship education. In the New Year, the campaign will deliver the picture petition directly to Secretary of State for Education, Michael Gove MP.

Hands Up, Who’s Bored? was created in response to the interest and passion Danny encountered when running politics and citizenship workshops in classrooms around the country. He wants to use the campaign to demonstrate that the majority of young people care about their political education at a time when an entire generation is being cast as disinterested and disengaged.  Danny engages young people through social media and other technologies to make political education more appealing and relevant.

Despite the perception that young people have little or no interest in political education, or their responsibilities as a citizen, findings from O2’s Youth Matters* research suggests that many young people are passionate about the subject:

  • Almost half (44 per cent) of 16 – 24 year olds expressed an interest in politics;
  • While 43 per cent said they think young people have a responsibility to play an active role in their local community.

Danny Bartlett, the young campaigner backed by O2 Think Big, said: “As a subject, citizenship has the power to equip young people with the skills, knowledge and motivation to play an active and positive role in society.  We consistently hear our politicians critisise young people for their perceived failure to positively ‘engage’ with public and community life, yet we face the very real possibility of losing from the National Curriculum the one subject which teaches political literacy and motivates young people to take action on local issues and play a positive role in their communities.

“Through the Hands Up Who’s Bored? picture petition, I want our nation’s politicians to see that young people in the UK care passionately about their right to receive a proper political education and in doing so demonstrate the need to retain citizenship as a statutory part of the National Curriculum.”

Danny is one of four inspirational young people passionate about tackling important issues in our society who are being backed by O2 with a £1.25million pound media budget to make their voice heard on a national level. Through Think Big, O2 is committed to investing in young people to help them take positive action in their communities. To date, O2 has backed around 900 youth led projects.

Radio DJ and TV presenter Reggie Yates, who has teamed up with Danny to help rally young people behind the Hands Up Who’s Bored? campaign, said: “Throughout my life I’ve worked closely with young people and what’s clear is that they want to have their say and they want their opinions to count. Citizenship education is great way to engage young people and give their views and opinions a platform. But more than that, it gives young people an opportunity to understand their rights in our society as well as their responsibilities.

“That’s why I’m backing Danny’s campaign 100%. We need young people to come together, support Danny’s picture petition, and show the decision makers that citizenship education matters.”

Danny’s campaign has won the backing of Democratic Life, a wide coalition of organisations and committed individuals who have come together to champion citizenship education.

One of Democratic Life’s founding members is Amnesty International UK, and its director, Kate Allen, said: “At Democratic Life, we’re delighted that Danny Bartlett has picked up the gauntlet and is campaigning hard to promote the importance of effective citizenship education for all young people. We will be working closely with him over the coming months to try and meet our shared goal.

“Citizenship is the only subject on the national curriculum that currently teaches all pupils in England about their rights and responsibilities, the legal system, democracy and human rights in the UK and in other parts of the world. As such, the potential loss of the subject in the Curriculum Review would be a tragedy for school children in England.

“All the evidence shows that when the subject is taught well students’ motivation to become involved in their communities improves. What the subject needs is expansion and more investment, not to be put under threat.”

O2 is also backing Danny’s campaign with a short film which is being shown in cinemas across the UK documenting his story and his campaign to keep citizenship on the curriculum.

One Response to “'Citizenship education matters,' says Radio 1's Reggie Yates”

  1. Ros Lucas, Education/Careers Consultant says:

    The curriculum is too full with insufficient time for all learners to consider, reflect and interrogate personal interests that relate to the world they will enter after compulsory education. It is probably possible with good planning that much of what is taught over 5 days could be condensed to three, giving two days to commit to extra curricular activities to include much of what the government is intending to cut out, as well as for voluntary work, political and social connections to be investigated and disucussed.

    These areas should be part of learning how to manage their personal social development such as politics, business/commerce and career updates through investigating labour market information, both here and across the world.

    Youngsters will then be in a better position to make decisions based on knowledge and understanding of the world around them.

Leave a Reply