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Shifting the political culture

The Citizenship Advisory Group was set up by the Government last November, under the chairmanship of Professor Bernard Crick. Its task was to produce aims for the teaching of citizenship and democracy in schools, a framework for the subject, and proposals for how it could be successfully delivered.

The group's 15 members include Lord Baker, former Conservative education secretary, Michael Brunson, political editor of ITN, Sir Stephen Tumim, former chief inspector of prisons, three teachers, academics, and representatives of think tanks and community service organisations.

They fulfilled the first two sections of their brief in an initial report in March, in which they called for compulsory citizenship teaching in all schools for all pupils, as a means toward "a change in the political culture of this country both nationally and locally".

They defined three elements of citizenship: social and moral responsibility, community involvement and political literacy. It should be taught for up to 5 per cent of the school timetable, and the teaching should be driven by "learning outcomes". It is these outcomes, plus advice on changes to accommodate citizenship through the curriculum, in inspections, in initial teacher training and in school management, that are contained in the final report considered by the group this week.

That report then goes to Education Secretary David Blunkett, who is expected to publish it with the Government's response in mid-September. Professor Crick has already said that the proposals are too extensive to be implemented all at once.

The Government could make a start with them in the revised national curriculum for 2000, but full implementation might take a decade.

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