Our CEO Ashley Hodges was invited to the House of Lords in February to discuss the current state of citizenship education and civic engagement in the UK.
Appearing before the Liaison Committee on Citizenship and Civic Engagement, she presented findings, experiences and feedback from our work with schools, calling for improved and universal provision of citizenship education.
The evidence session was a follow up to the Committee’s original meeting and report in 2018. Concerned by a serious deficit in active citizenship across the nation, it stressed the importance of a “civic journey” in which all citizens are encouraged to participate in society.
In 2022, it is 20 years since citizenship was introduced onto the curriculum, but many young people still lack the citizenship skills and values necessary to be active in their communities.
Ashley (who sat alongside Liz Moorse of Association for Citizenship Teaching and David Goodhart of Policy Exchange) raised several strategies and ideas for a new era of citizenship education.
- Citizenship is a fundamental part of learning and it should be statutory across all ages and stages of education. It should have a place in every school’s curriculum.
- Opportunities to build young people’s habits & citizenship skills are key for their future. Citizenship requires practice and application – it can’t be memorised. Charities like Young Citizens are catalysts for this, but need investment to support delivery.
- Great citizenship education is the exception, not the norm. Too many teachers feel ill-equipped on what is required and what it means, with a lack of specialist staff to help schools raise their game.
- Citizenship and civic engagement go hand in hand with (and can supercharge) the government’s Levelling Up agenda. Strong communities need engaged and informed citizens. Robust ideas of democracy, law and social action will be vital for this policy to work.
- We need a cross-government champion for citizenship education to ensure that the subject is properly represented at the top and in the DfE. Further, issues around citizenship education should be depoliticised.
You can watch a recording of the day’s first evidence session featuring Hodges above, or find the full inquiry here.
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