Citizenship for all pupils;Letter;News amp; Opinion

26th November 1999 at 00:00
BERNARD CRICK (TESS, November 12) seemed to miss so much of what I had been saying in my article of October 29 that I had to reread it to fully understand the straw man he had established!

I had made a number of what I believe to be relevant criticisms of the proposals on education for citizenship in England and suggested that collectively the shortcomings could lead to worrying cynicism when applied in schools, a worry precisely because the need for education for citizenship and democracy is so great.

Bernard Crick, however, seems to get from the article that I do not want citizenship education for all pupils in Scotland, but rather more limited proposals based on the 20 per cent of pupils who take modern studies in S3-S4. Anyone who knows me or has heard me speak on this area knows that I am in favour of education for citizenship and democracy as an entitlement for all pupils.

Professor Crick rightly points out that Scotland is now virtually the only country in Europe not to have some model of citizenship education, and the Scottish Consultative Council on the Curriculum now has a review group looking at the whole areas as a matter of priority. It will not just be a mapping exercise, as Professor Crick suggests, although the review group is bound to assess what is going on around the country and indeed abroad.

Equally, it is important to get the proposals correct. Anything in the short term is not always better than hanging on for getting it right. As Bernard Crick suggests, there is modern studies in Scotland and the proposals for "People and Society" in 5-14 environmental studies mean that at least one strand of citizenship - political literacy - should be an entitlement for all pupils from P1-S2.

How education for citizenship is developed in S3-S4 and indeed the role of modern studies in the delivery is open to debate and discussion but whatever the case, my opinion is that committed teachers with an understanding of the complex issues are preferable to conscripts.

Henry Maitles Head of modern studies, faculty of education, Strathclyde University

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