Citizenship may become compulsory post-16

28th May 1999 at 01:00
CITIZENSHIP may become a compulsory part of A-levels and vocational courses under plans backed by Education Secretary David Blunkett.

Mr Blunkett, giving a lecture on welfare last week, said he would like to see the subject extended to sixth-formers, college students and the broader community.

This week the Government's chief adviser on citizenship, Professor Bernard Crick, said proposals were still under "active consideration" by ministers.

Mr Blunkett told a London conference, organised by the Demos think-tank: "It doesn't matter what we call it, it's about ensuring people are aware of the power structures in society around them, and are able to have some influence over it. If we are to succeed we have to empower people by giving them consciousness of what's happening around them."

The Government has already announced plans for compulsory citizenship lessons in secondary schools from 2002, as part of its review of the national curriculum.

Its plans were shaped by last year's report from the advisory group on citizenship, chaired by Bernard Crick, emeritus professor of politics at Birbeck College, London, and a former tutor of Mr Blunkett.

The report recommended that lessons be extended to sixth-formers and college students.

"Citizenship would have to be more generalised, post-16, in order to fit the extraordinarily wide range of vocational qualifications there are," he suggested.

Nor should academic courses be allowed to duck out of citizenship, he added. Modern languages courses might explore the social and political structures of other countries, while vocational courses might look at the rights and duties of employees.

The Association of Colleges said it would support such lessons as part of a broader-based curriculum in further education. However, changes in the funding system would be needed to ensure institutions got the financial support needed to deliver such a curriculum.

Karen Thornton

Document of the month, 24

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