Michael Gove commits to statutory National Curriculum citizenship in every school

Friday 8 February 2013

Democratic Life is delighted that Michael Gove, Secretary of State for Education has confirmed citizenship will continue as a National Curriculum foundation subject in secondary schools.

Michael Gove

Michael Gove

The announcement made in the House of Commons signals this government is committed to citizenship as a curriculum subject that every child, in every school must be taught.

Responding to a question from David Blunkett MP, Mr Gove said, ” I can absolutely and with pleasure confirm that citizenship will remain a programme of study at key stages 3 and 4. I look forward to working with him to ensure that this valuable subject is even better taught in more of our schools.”

This positive decision will help teachers build on over ten years of hard work work to establish this unique National Curriculum subject. Schools can now plan steps to continue to improve their citizenship provision so that more pupils benefit from the very best citizenship teaching.

The decision also reaffirms there is cross-party political support for citizenship education – something that Democratic Life has been working for over the past 3 years.

National Curriculum citizenship was established in 2002 and has been a statutory subject in secondary schools since this time. Citizenship is unique being the only subject that teaches knowledge and understanding about politics, government, the law and the economy and equips pupils to participate effectively in democracy and public life.

The curriculum review provides an opportunity to ensure there is a robust programme of study for citizenship that sets out clearly what every school must teach. The proposed new curriculum is subject to a full public consultation, with final versions due in schools this autumn for first teaching in September 2014. Democratic Life will be developing a response to this consultation and providing advice to supporters in the coming weeks.

We look forward to working with the DFE to continue to support the development of National Curriculum citizenship.

Many of our partner organisations and supporters have told us they are delighted with this announcement. The Association for Citizenship Teaching says:

“Citizenship education prepares young people to be able to play an active role in democratic life. As Citizenship teachers we are imparting the skills and knowledge our young people need in order to be able to participate in 
local, national and international political society.
Over the past ten years Citizenship education has become an established curriculum subject giving our young people an understanding of what it means to be an active citizen in a democratic society.”

The Citizenship Foundation says:

“We are very pleased that citizenship will stay on the National Curriculum, with a programme of study and with the Education Secretary’s express support. We are delighted that Michael Gove has turned around advice to drop the subject. Citizenship strengthens civic and civil society and is set to grow in strength and influence in the coming years.”

Amnesty International says:

“Amnesty warmly welcomes the news that Citizenship will be retained as a statutory subject on the National Curriculum in England. The subject has played a key role in ensuring pupils learn about their human rights. However, it is disappointing that human rights hardly feature in the required subject content in the new curriculum proposal. Good quality human rights education requires more than a passing mention of rights in the UK, it should develop knowledge, skills and values to understand and protect human rights in the UK and globally. In the UK’s increasingly diverse society, human rights provide a common language of mutual respect that has a vital role in drawing us together and building stronger communities and schools. It is our hope that as a result of the consultation period, references to human rights in the curriculum will be strengthened. The Government must take seriously its international obligations to provide opportunities for human rights education as outlined in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.”

About Citizenship
Citizenship was introduced in 2002 as a statutory National Curriculum foundation subject at key stages 3 and 4 following the recommendations of Bernard Crick’s Advisory group report ‘Teaching Citizenship and Democracy in schools’ (QCA, 1998)

Citizenship forms part of a non-statutory National Framework alongside PSHE education at key stages 1 and 2.

Citizenship Studies qualifications at GCSE and A level will continue to be used by many schools to recognize achievement of pupils at key stage 4 and beyond. To date more than half a million students have achieved a GCSE in Citizenship Studies. The GCSE qualifications are offered by AQA, Edexcel and OCR.

About Democratic Life
Democratic Life (www.democraticlife.org.uk) is a coalition of 40 organisations and 800 committed individuals who have come together to champion better Citizenship education. We believe citizenship – through teaching about politics, the law and the economy – is essential for preparing all our young people to contribute to our economy and participate responsibly in our shared democratic life. Democratic Life and its members are not aligned with any political party. Rather, our aim is to achieve a cross-party consensus on the important role citizenship education plays in ensuring our democracy’s health.

3 Responses to “Michael Gove commits to statutory National Curriculum citizenship in every school”

  1. […] that Citizenship will stay in the National Curriculum, it’s something for which, as part of Democratic Life, we have been campaigning for a long time. We hope that now the uncertainty that has hung over the […]

  2. […] Democratic Life, the coordinating group for organisations associated with citizenship education, including the Association for Citizenship Teaching, Citizenship Foundation and Amnesty International, considers this as something of a moral victory. But is it? […]

  3. […] Coalition for ensuring that active citizenship education remains a central tenant of the secondary curriculum. But more must be […]

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