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Lobbyist threat to citizenship

Citizenship lessons must not be swamped by health or careers issues at the expense of teaching young people how society works, the British Youth Council warns.

Political ignorance and a lack of knowledge about their rights and responsibilities are the the most important issues facing young people today, the council has told the panel drawing up guidelines on citizenship education for the Government.

But it warns pressure groups will try to use citizenship to teach moral values or life skills which are already covered in personal social and health education.

Council chair Martin Wilson said many young people found PSHE irrelevant - and that adding citizenship lessons and an understanding of society would give the lessons a context.

The warning has been sympathetically received by the working group which is due to report to the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority next month.

The group is chaired by citizenship advocate Professor Bernard Crick, who is anxious to avoid creating a curriculum that can be accused of political indoctrination.

The British Youth Council warns: "It would be tempting to allow citizenship education to become simply issues based on moral education revolving around key concepts such as drugs, health education, housing and homelessness etc I Many pressure groups will be keen to see the curriculum dominated by these key issues."

The British Youth Council fears that with citizenship likely to be one of the major additions to the timetable, campaigners for issues such as health education could try to muscle into the subject.

Nicolas Barnard

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