David Blunkett: citizenship education’s impact on democracy

David Blunkett: citizenship education’s impact on democracy


Michael Grimes:
Relegating the citizenship curriculum to the Basic Curriculum: what impact will that have
on democracy? David Blunkett:
Well we knew, before I established the citizenship and democracy curriculum – after the working
party chaired by Professor Sir Bernard Crick – that we had at that time, back in the ’80s
and ’90s, the least politically literate electorate in he developed world. The work that was done
at York University demonstrated that. The recent work from the National Foundation for
Educational Research has demonstrated not only that the citizenship programmes already
increase the awareness, the political understanding, but also the participation of young people;
including in the 2010 election the 19 and 20 year-olds voted substantially more than
the age group just above them. And I think that demonstrates that it’s already had an
impact. But – crucially – that it’s also increased the active participation of youngsters in
terms of volunteering; it’s had an impact on the quality of of outcomes in other study
areas – in other words, the engagement of young people with the community and with an
understanding of society around them – has actually had an impact on other subject areas.
And it’s no good saying that, well, we can teach it through history or geography: subject
teachers in those areas are specialists within their own field; what they don’t have – what
many teachers never had – was an understanding of the political arena, the legal arena and
the economic arena, or the ability to be able to teach it. And a combination of the withdrawal
of the backup from national level of best practice – and of the kind of materials that
make it possible to do the job well, and of outcome measures – would simply leave citizenship
literally floating in the air.

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