Is George Osborne killing off the National Curriculum so the rich can inherit the earth?

This is Jamie. He’s holding the Chancellor’s famous red briefcase. This was in 2010, when Jamie won our Chance to be Chancellor Competition.

Chance to be Chancellor was a unique opportunity for school students to learn about the economy in a way that was fun and absorbing. And, importantly, it was part of his school lessons, in structured citizenship curriculum time.

Today, George Osborne announced that all schools will be turned into academies, outside local authority control. In effect, this signals the end of National Curriculum (the one Jamie’s school did so that he learnt about the Budget), because academies do not have to follow it.

‘Citizenship Studies’, the curriculum subject that teaches students about public finances, is statutory on the National Curriculum, but schools will no longer have to teach it. So, its ‘statutory’ status is exactly NOT that, because the National Curriculum is now a token gesture, a ghost ship that gives the illusion that schools are cruising in the same direction, but merely a phantom. The connection between what schools will teach and the supposed ‘National Curriculum’ has been decoupled.

And, if recent history reflects an ongoing trend, many schools drop citizenship to focus on pushing students through exams and into work when given the chance. They can’t see beyond feeding the workplace. But democracies need more than just money.

A National Curriculum ensures that the priorities of our society are reflected in education; that education is about more than just churning out cogs for the economic wheel. Citizenship education is an important element of that. Without such an element, education becomes about little more than personal financial progress; civic society can go hang; the rich can inherit the earth.

Jamie was a shining example of citizenship education at its best: a young person encouraged to show an interest in the world that governs them and to learn how he can affect it. It’s a shame that George seems to have forgotten all about him.

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

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