Blunkett plays the identity card;Briefing;Document of the Month

28th May 1999 at 01:00
Puzzled about the national curriculum review? Don't be. For the next six weeks 'The TES' will be reporting on the Government's proposals - subject by subject. Part one: citizenship.

Compulsory citizenship lessons are set to be introduced in an attempt to transform disaffected youth into "informed and responsible members of society".

But the revised curriculum, currently out for consultation, also contains a wider non-statutory programme of personal, social and health education which all schools will be expected to follow from September next year.

While citizenship will only be compulsory for secondary pupils from 2002, ministers expect all schools to introduce "light-touch" PSHE as soon as they receive guidance materials.

At present the only known detail is a set of learning outcomes listed in the Education Secretary's proposals. Schools will ultimately decide course content and teaching styles, but will also receive non-statutory government guidance as well as information on how to link citizenship to other subjects.

Five, six and seven-year-olds will be expected to know the difference between right and wrong, consider simple social and moral dilemmas and learn to share and co-operate. Older primary pupils will study current affairs, basic law and democracy and discuss topical issues.

The compulsory citizenship lessons for secondary schools will cover negotiation and debating skills, the criminal justice system, central and local government and the European Union.

Launching the proposed new curriculum earlier this month, David Blunkett said secondary citizenship lessons would transform the attitudes of young people in England who had been shown to be far less politically aware than their contemporaries in other countries.

He wants children to have more pride in their own culture while respecting those of others. He said: "Americans reinforce their identity in ways we never have. We have tended to down-play our culture and we need to reinforce our pride in what we have."

He acknowledged that many schools were already providing good citizenship education, but said greater coherence was needed.

His proposal document says: "We intend this will be a light-touch approach, with a programme of study based on learning outcomes to allow scope for schools to develop their own approaches for delivering teaching in citizenship, and to be innovative, for example by drawing on knowledge and understanding gained across other subjects in the curriculum and encouraging practical activities in the community."

"The review of the national curriculum in England" is available from the QCA website or from its publications orderline on 01787 884444


"The review of the national curriculum" document proposes new compulsory citizenship lessons for 11 to 16-year-olds


1 To develop skills of enquiry and communication pupils should be taught: * to express, orally and in writing a personal opinion relevant to a topical political or social issue, problem or event;

* to contribute to group and class discussion and debate;

* to reflect on topical political and social issues, problems and events through the analysis of a variety of sources and statistics. Key stage 4 pupils must also be aware of the use and abuse of statistics.

2 To develop skills of participation and action pupils should be taught: * to use imagination to consider the experience of others and be able to reflect on and explain viewpoints contrary to their own;

* to exhibit skills of negotiation and accommodation and be able to reflect on the process of participating in school and community-based activities.

Knowledge and understanding

3 To develop knowledge and understanding pupils should be taught about: * legal and human rights and responsibilities underpinning society, including basic aspects of the criminal justice system, and how they relate to young people. Key stage 4 pupils must also cover the civil justice system;

* the diversity of national, regional, religious and ethnic identities within the UK and the need for mutual respect and understanding;

* central and local government, the public services they offer and the opportunities to contribute; the key aspects of parliamentary government and other forms of government; the electoral system and the importance of voting;

* the work of voluntary bodies, whether community based, national or international;

* the importance of the media in society;

* the world as a global community and the political, economic and social disparities that exist. Key stage 4 pupils must also study the UK's relations within Europe, including the European Union.

* key stage 4 pupils must study the rights and responsibilities of consumers, employers and employees

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