Blunkett writes for Society Central– democracy at risk and why citizenship matters

Writing exclusively for ISER’s policy blog site, Society Central, David Blunkett MP says research shows British people are the least engaged with their own democratic system of all developed nations and that curriculum citizenship studies are going to be crucial to sustaining active democracy.

The former Education Secretary and Home Secretary writes as campaigning begins for the forthcoming European and local government elections.

Recent studies have found that young people particularly are not engaging.

In February The Office of National Statistics analysed data from Understanding Society, the University of Essex-run UK household panel study which is following the lives of individuals and households over many years. The ONS report examined people’s interest in politics, how much they trust Government and voting behaviour.

The study found less than a third – 31% – of 16 to 24-year-olds were fairly or very interested in politics, compared with about half of those aged 55 and over.
Writing for Society Central, David Blunkett calls for schools and academies to embrace the research evidence that citizenship studies really matter.
Blunkett writes:

“Engaged, analytical, thoughtful young people start to understand the importance of education in their future life. They see the relevance of history, of geography (and climate change). And why it matters to have the ability to speak and write coherently and have an understanding of maths in the practical and financial ways in their life.

The interconnectivity of subject areas lends itself to an appreciation of why a grasp of where power lies and what influences decision making has a bearing on the lives of us all.

Citizenship was about to disappear from the core curriculum but to his credit, and after substantial and effective campaigning, Michael Gove decided not to abolish it.

Academies theoretically do not have to follow the curriculum and there has been more recent equivocation about programmes of study from 2016. However, on 9th April Michael Gove clarified that Citizenship would be in the first cohort of revised programmes of study.

But citizenship is not simply down to informing the young. The challenge is one for all of us.

I do understand that politicians, fortunate enough to have a public platform, play a key part in inspiring young and old alike in becoming involved and engaged voters.

In the end however one set of people blaming another for the failure to nurture and value our democracy gets us precisely nowhere. In the end (to coin a phrase from the Prime Minister) we really are all in this together!”

Read the full article at Society Central, our evidence for policymakers website with commentary and analysis by leading thinkers on new research on the key social policy issues of the day.

Recent high profile contributors have included David Willetts, minister for universities, Sharon Hodgson, shadow children’s minister and Dame Anne Begg, chair of the Pensions select committee.

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