Downgrade of Citizenship and RE is a missed opportunity

December 20, 2011

Citizenship education faces being downgraded in schools following the publication of a Department for Education report yesterday, which recommended that Citizenship be taken out of the National Curriculum. The report also failed to recommend that Religious Education be added to the National Curriculum, despite widespread support for the change.

Chair of the Accord Coalition, Rabbi Dr Jonathan Romain, said ‘By downgrading the importance of Citizenship the Department for Education would completely undermine the Prime Minister’s widely covered speech in Munich in February 2011 about confronting extremism and the need for promoting a greater sense of citizenship.

‘The failure to recommend that Religious Education also be added to the National Curriculum is another missed opportunity – a subject vital to promoting not only general knowledge, but also the growth of mutual understanding among Britain’s increasingly diverse school population.

‘We urge the Government to reconsider the recommendations and bring the new National Curriculum in line with its declared policies.’

Citizenship currently has to be taught in all secondary schools that follow the National Curriculum, but if it were made part of the Basic Curriculum these schools would only have basic or cursory requirements for teaching the subject. This would give schools greater freedom to treat important issues in more narrow and obscurant ways, such as equality, human rights, responsibilities towards others and alternative viewpoints on social and political issues, or for schools to ignore these topics altogether.

Religious Education has to be taught in all state funded schools in England and Wales, but it can be of variable quality, while Religious Education in many state funded faith schools can be overtly instructional and fail to teach about the broad range of beliefs in society.

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