Responding to the New Citizenship Programme of Study
We are delighted that the Department for Education has confirmed that Citizenship will remain statutory at KS3 and KS4 in England. However, the new curriculum:
- hardly mentions human rights at all. Instead teachers are asked to teach about the 'precious liberties' enjoyed by those living in the UK. This nebulous concept has no clear basis in law or international agreement, and will be confusing for teachers
- waters down active citizenship
- has no global dimension at KS3 and ignores issues of inequality, discrimination, and sustainability
- has weak subject aims and unclear progression in key areas such as law
The government is running a full public consultation on Michael Gove's proposed changes to the curriculum, and we believe we can still make an impact - but we need your help before 16 April 2013
The easiest way to respond to the consultation is to use the online template supplied by Democratic Life, the consortium with which we are working to promote Citizenship Education.
Please note: The Democratic Life template is completed with their draft text which you can leave as is, edit, or replace. We recommend you amend their responses to questions three and five in line with our guidance below in order to emphasise the importance of human rights education.
If you do not wish to use the Democratic Life template, you can respond to the curriculum consultation on the Department For Education website. You will need to download a template, then email it to the department. Remember you do not need to respond to every question.
You have until 16 April 2013 to respond to the Department's proposals.
You can respond to as many questions as you like, however if time is limited we suggest you focus your response on Question three regarding the proposed subject content:
Key points we would suggest:
- The curriculum needs to include an explicit requirement to teach about human rights and provide opportunities to debate, discuss and take action to protect human rights in the UK and the wider world
- It should prepare young people for a world shaped by global issues. The study of human rights issues across the globe provides an outstanding gateway for talking about issues such as equal treatment, fairness and justice that are also relevant to life in the UK
- Citizenship provides an important setting for young people to learn about issues of fairness, justice, non-discrimination and equal treatment under the law. These should be taught at KS3 not KS4. They also should not be solely in reference to religious, national and ethnic identity as in the proposed curriculum, but also take into account all groups with protected characteristics including disability, special educational needs, gender and sexual orientation.
- The curriculum should include an emphasis on the ways in which citizens can work towards the betterment of their local, national and global communities, and can take part in genuine social and democratic action.
- It should strengthen subject aims and show progression in key areas including the law
- It should indicate the key skills that young people should be expected to develop in Citizenship including: Capacity to engage research, explore and debate key issues, and see these from a wide range of views.
Capacity to work effectively with others for improvement of their world developing skills such as team-work, leadership and project management.
Question five asks 'What impact - either positive or negative - will our proposals have on the 'protected characteristic' groups?'
The retention of citizenship as a statutory requirement at KS3 and four could have a positive impact on 'protected characteristic' groups but only if it is taught within a human rights framework. If the Programme of Study is strengthened to include human rights then this will promote a universal culture of mutual respect and inclusion of at risk groups. Retaining citizenship without an emphasis on human rights is a missed opportunity.
You may also want to comment on Question one regarding the Aims of the new curriculum achieved the aims of the national curriculum ('to prepare adults to be effective citizens'); Question four regarding progression between KS3 and KS4.
AMNESTY BELIEVES IN THE POWER OF CITIZENSHIP EDUCATION
Citizenship education offers young people an excellent opportunity to learn about human rights, and develop skills for taking action on human rights issues. Amnesty has developed the range of resources below to support the teaching of Citizenship through human rights.
We believe that all young people should have the opportunity to receive high quality Citizenship education at school, and is a founder member of Democratic Life a coalition of organisations who believe citizenship is essential to prepare young people to take part in shared democratic life. The coalition aims to highlight the importance of Citizenship education for young people and ensure that this subject remains part of the National Curriculum in England after it is reviewed by the Government.
Find out the latest news: Democratic Life website
Amnesty's key resource books are designed to provide teachers with comprehensive pathways through the Citizenship curricula:
- KS3 Citizenship England: Right Here, Right Now | Download pdf | Details
- KS4 Citizenship N. Ireland: Making Human Rights Real | Download pdf | Details
Many of the other free downloadable resources available here are written for the Citizenship curriculum and related subjects such as PSE (Wales) and Modern Studies (Scotland).
We also provide Continuing Professional Development for Citizenship Teachers.
Citizenship Teachers can find further support from subject associations such as ACT, The Association for Citizenship Teaching is the membership association for teachers delivering Citizenship education. ACT provides excellent opportunities for professional development, teaching resources, updates on government policy, a magazine, e-bulletins and more. Find out about becoming a member
Age: KS3/ Adaptable
Curriculum: Citizenship (England)/ Adaptable
Product code: ED130
A resource book of 12 lesson plans to facilitate effective teaching and learning about human rights, including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. It is intended to help teachers bring human rights to life, enabling them to explore concrete issues such as poverty and discrimination with students and to facilitate challenging debates.
This resource was produced by a partnership of the Ministry of Justice and the British Institute of Human Rights, supported by the Department of Children, Schools and Families and Amnesty International.
Subject: Citizenship (LLW curriculum, Northern Ireland)/ Adaptable
Product code: ED126
A resource book of 15 lesson plans written for the KS4 Citizenship LLW curriculum in Northern Ireland, produced by Amnesty in association with the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission. The activities can be adapted for use in other national curricula subjects across the UK, and for Post-16 education. The resource covers:
- Human rights law, history, values
- Human rights concepts - e.g. balancing conflicting rights
- The proposed Bill of Rights for Northern Ireland
- The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child
- An overview of how to use a human rights approach to teaching other citizenship issues (diversity, democracy, equality, social justice)
- Teaching controversial issues and taking action for human rights
Amnesty needs your help to evaluate this project!