Education and Skills Committee

8 March 2007

Ministers must stay engaged with citizenship education, say MPs

A wide ranging report from the Education & Skills Committee says there is a danger the Government could be losing interest in citizenship education - when there is still a long way to go in establishing the subject. Ministers must maintain their robustness and resolve on the subject, the Committee say.

Citizenship education, they argue, is central to addressing the challenges of segregation, separation and alienation faced by our community. It should therefore stretch right across the age range - from childhood right through to adulthood. 

Rather than being an ‘add-on’ to the rest of the curriculum, citizenship education should suffuse the culture of a school or college, giving young people a real say in management decisions. Letting young people lead and take real responsibility at an early age is important. School Councils, the committee suggest, can be an effective means of doing this and encouraging ‘active’ citizenship. 

There are unfortunately schools which take an overly passive approach to citizenship education relying far too much on some general school ‘ethos’. The danger of this approach is that ‘everywhere can often be nowhere’ as far as citizenship is concerned; it is not a substitute for a planned and explicit programme of activity.

Commenting, Barry Sheerman said:

"We heard some really inspiring accounts of citizenship education programmes in schools and colleges. It is crucial that we now ensure these experiences become more widespread. Ministers need to demonstrate they are firmly behind this agenda. We all acknowledge that there are people in this country who feel excluded and alienated from society - citizenship education has the potential to address some of the challenges at the heart of this social exclusion."

Notes to Editors:

  1. Requests for interviews should be directed to Luke Robinson on 020 7219 5693.

  2. For detailed information the Education and Skills Committee can be contacted on 020 7219 6243.

  3. The membership of the Committee is as follows: Mr Barry Sheerman MP (Chairman) ,Mr Douglas Carswell MP, Mr David Chaytor, Jeff Ennis MP, Paul Holmes MP, Helen Jones MP, Fiona Mactaggart MP, Mr Gordon Marsden MP, Mr Andrew Pelling MP, Stephen Williams MP, Mr Rob Wilson MP.

  4. The report’s title is ‘Citizenship Education’ HC 147.