Call for citizenship for every 16 to 19-year-old

29th September 2000 at 01:00
CITIZENSHIP learning should be an entitlement for all 16 to 19-year-olds, says a government advisory group.

Whether they are in school, college or at work "young adults should have the opportunities to learn about their rights and responsibilities, to understand how society works, and to enhance the skills they need in order to be active citizens", says the Government's advisory group on citizenship for 16 to 19- year-olds in education and training. Its report was published by the Further Education Funding Council this week.

The existing schools citizenship curriculum defines the knowledge and understanding that young people should have by age 16.

"But the bridge from compulsory to post-compulsory education should increasingly be about doing citizenship, not learning about it," said Tony Breslin, general adviser for 14-19 education for the London borough of Enfield and a member of the advisory group.

The group says education and training providers must enable opportunities for young people to be actively involved in their school, workplace or wider community and to have their understanding and skills accredited.

The institutions must demonstrate their commitment to citizenship by organising themselves so that young people can develop as citizens.

Citizenship must be part of the key skills programme and the Government must fund staff training and the devlopment of materials.

The advisory group believes that much good work is already happening but goes unacknowledged. School and college councils, charity and community work, peer-group mentoring and work experience can all develop citizenship skills. These could be tracked to provide a citizenship profile.

The group suggests a citizenship "matrix" to help teachers and trainers devise programmes appropriate to their own students. Skills such as "applying a framework of moral values", "appraising information sources" or "managing financial affairs" can be developed against an understanding of the roles played by a family member, consumer or worker.

Underpinning this should be a knowledge of institutions, and an individual's rights and responsibilities.

Accreditation should be based on a student citizenship portfolio. However, this should not be a "massive, dry, out-of-date audit sheet", said Tony Breslin.

In the words of the report, "the challenge must be to measure those qualities that are valuable to being a good citizen, rather than simply "valuing what is easily measured".

The report now goes to the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority, which will report back in January 2001 with concrete proposals for pilot projects.

Copies of the report are available from the FEFC, Cheylesmore House, Quinton Road, Coventry CV1 2WT. Ref: REP105600

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