Citizenship and values are now part of the national curriculum. At key stages 3 and 4 they are statutory, and Ofsted will expect a 5 per cent time allocation. With other pressures on PSHE, many schools will seek a cross-curricular approach.
But there is a great deal of evidence that teachers feel inadequately prepared. That is hardly surprising - the range of concepts, values, skills and attitudes listed for assessment is demanding, as is the range of knowledge. A manual of help and guidance is sorely needed.
Teaching Values and Citizenship meets that need. Its authors combine expertise in values education with down-to-earth classroom know-how. They offer an introduction to the subject and a range of insights into teaching it at primary and secondary level.
They start with the background to the new requirements, then show how different curriculum areas can help meet them. They demonstrate easily that at any level other than the merely mechanical English, the humanities and the arts are rooted in judgment and interpretation.
Increasingly, that's true of geography too: it is difficult to study the world without discovering that rights and values often conflict. ICT is a powerful resource to this effect. So is science - think of Dolly the sheep. So is religion; and sport. Even mathematics, on the surface the only truly objective subject, is not quite value-free - hence the importance of ducating the young to recognise the misuse of statistics.
But whose values are we teaching? And are we teaching them because we want to maintain the established order, or because we want to improve or transform it? These are important questions that the final chapters begin totackle.
Education for Values deals with the implications of the new curriculum rather than the nuts and bolts of delivering it. It grew out of an international conference at London's Institute of Education, and its main concern is with the needs of those who train teachers.
But that doesn't make it irrelevant to teachers. As John Tomlinson and Vivienne Little point out, all teachers convey moral ideas and principles to their pupils: that is why we need, they say, a code of ethics.
There are inconsistencies, too, Jo Cairns points out, in this new requirement. How highly does it rank among the Government's blueprints for change? It doesn't feature in new performance measures: the message there is that test results are paramount. Even the threshold requirement for teachers to contribute to the aspirations and values of the school has a hint of ambiguity. We are in the process of destroying the values of the common school in the name of market choice; what values, the contributors ask, are we seen to be endorsing?
The point, of course, is that values conflict and citizenship is problematic. We must recognise this; or there is something of the emperor's new clothes about the way we greet the new proposals. Is it not true, Colin Wringe writes, that life skills will bring greater hope to many youngsters than any amount of moral education?