Patriot poser

8th February 2008 at 00:00
Adi Bloom's piece "Should patriotism be taught?" (TES, February 1) makes a welcome contribution to the debate about how we deal with the complex matters of identity, diversity and commonality in the classroom, as does the study by Michael Hand and Joanne Pearce that inspired it.

Perhaps, though, the question is wrongly put. The need is not, as the framing of the (accurately recorded) comments that I made in the article suggests, to teach patriotism and national identity, but to teach about these issues. It is precisely because modern multicultural societies and nation states are "more ambiguous entities" that we need to address these matters within the safe space of the school and, critically, with the guidance of trained, specialist teachers.

The statutory citizenship curriculum provides this space. Whether it is sufficiently resourced and whether teachers have access to relevant continuing professional development to build their skills and confidence is another matter. One thing is sure: as Sir Keith Ajegbo's report, "Diversity and Citizenship", makes clear, failing to deal with debates and concerns that are central to our students' lives provides no solution and is not how Hand and Pearce would want us to respond to their important work.

For this reason, we shall continue to campaign for an appropriately resourced national strategy for teaching and learning in citizenship. This stuff is too important to be swept under the carpet or left to chance.

Tony Breslin, Chief executive, Citizenship Foundation, London.

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