Helping young citizens make sense of the political issues of the day is at the heart of much of our work.

While we would never try to tell young people what to think, we aim to show them how to think about politics; to convince them that however remote the workings of Westminster may seem, decisions made there have a huge impact in their lives.

The 2016 referendum on EU membership will have the most profound effect on those who were too young to vote in it. We believe it’s therefore essential that they understand the implications and that their voice is heard as our future relationship with the EU and the rest of the world is thrashed out in London and Brussels.

Should we stay or should we go?

In the run-up to the Referendum, we produced materials to help teachers lead discussions on the key arguments between the Remain and Leave sides.

Who has the power to Brexit?

In the wake of the result, we produced a set of teaching materials called Who has the power to Brexit? Lesson plans enabled students to explore the case brought to UK courts by Gina Miller, who challenged the Government on their right to initiate Article 50 without a vote in parliament. The plans explored the idea of Parliamentary Sovereignty, the law, and how it relates to triggering Article 50.

Listening to young citizens’ voices

Over the summer of 2017, we contributed to a research project by the London School of Economics to better understand views of young people about Brexit. Two of its findings made stark reading. Firstly, young people are angry that their views have been ignored – during the referendum itself and in the subsequent discussions between Britain and the EU. Secondly, they want more political education – to help them make sense of the issues, and to contribute to the debate.

We responded by organising the first in a planned series of Brexit Conferences for Young People. Our aim was to help young people develop the knowledge about Brexit, the skills of critical thinking and advocacy, and the confidence to speak up and make a difference.

We brought together 90 young people aged 14-17, from a range of secondary schools, along with their teachers. We also involved 15 legal and financial experts, from our partners FTI Consulting and the law firm CMS, who volunteered their time to work with the students. After a keynote address looking at the history and development of the European Union (and especially Britain’s relationship with it), the students worked in small groups with the volunteers and considered how Brexit might impact different aspects of the UK. Case studies covering fisheries, the NHS, higher education and car manufacturing were considered.

Undivided

Young Citizens is an active supporter of Undivided – a campaign led by and for young people – to lobby for the best possible deal for young people. Using a specially-created digital platform, the campaign is crowdsourcing the thoughts about Brexit of at least a million under-30s from across the UK. The top ten demands will form a Youth Manifesto and will be shared with the UK’s negotiator.

We have supported Undivided by producing a special Facilitator’s Pack, with tasks to get young people thinking about the issues around Brexit and deciding their priorities.

Try these programmes

Politics resources for schools

Read more about our political literacy offers to help inform our youngest citizens.

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Experts in Schools

Interested in benefiting from volunteers in school to teach about democratic engagement?

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