Brave New World

Whoops of joy have been rare in our office over the last few years.

When Michael Gove took to the floor of Parliament to announce the new proposals for the English curriculum we gathered round the whiteboard in silence…

Since 2010 we have known that he, like many members of the coalition government, were sceptical about citizenship education. Even though its roots were in the constitutional and educational committees of early 90s Conservative government, it looked like it had to have been a Labour project when David Blunkett created the formula in 2002.

However, thanks to hundreds of individual, corporate and civil society partners who could see the value of the curriculum, the Democratic Life coalition managed to represent the vital vision of citizenship education to Mr Gove, who to his credit took it seriously and recognised that the ‘new’ subject had more going for it than he first thought.

Our call is now to redress the drop-off in momentum that his uncertainty has caused.

So many schools have been unsure of its long term status, and their management time has been absorbed in managing system change such as converting to academies.

We need new investment in citizenship professionals.

We need every school to have a specialist citizenship coordinator.

We need the population to see the potential of politics. All types of politics…

Not just because it’s becoming discredited, but because citizenship is at heart the craft of engaging with the common life of communities such that everyone’s view shapes the final settlement that we call ‘society’.

In public life unless someone is a part of the decision then they can become victims of the decision.

History teaches us that we have to learn the lessons of history.

Citizenship teaches us how to appropriate the lessons of history and change the future.

Education for citizenship lies between the two and it’s time now to give its practice the status it deserves.

That is our next fight.

Join us if you can.

Views expressed on this blog are not necessarily those of the Citizenship Foundation.

About Andy Thornton

Andy Thornton has been our Chief Executive since September 2010. He joined us in 2005, after three years at the Giving Campaign where he initiated their youth programme, Giving Nation. Giving Nation and the primary school version Go Givers are now both Citizenship Foundation programmes supporting young people’s informed engagement with charities and community action while at school.

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