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Petitioning Secretary of State for Education Justine Greening

"Young & disengaged?" — teach us politics in school

Our recent referendum on the UK’s membership in the EU really brought it to home to many of us that political education is needed now more than ever. Polls suggest turnout amongst my generation was much lower than expected, even though my generation will live with the consequences of this referendum longer than most of the population. 

A lot of young people, my friends included, did not even know what a referendum was, didn't understand it’s importance and were not really engaged in either of the campaigns. Some people I spoke to who did not vote in the referendum, told me they did not even know the date of the referendum and most complained to me they had no confidence about participating in such a decision or politics full stop. Politics was something completely alien to them.  

One of my close friends who did not vote in this referendum told me this and it stuck with me - “How do you expect us to understand and engage in politics if we have never been taught about it? It’s like trying to tell someone to go and play football and understand how the game works and all its rules without educating them on it. It makes no sense.

But can I blame people like him for not voting or understanding why it is so important to be engaged in politics?... Of course not. I left school with no clue about politics either, even though (now I am older and wiser I know) it affects everything in my life - from the cost of transport and my chances of getting a mortgage, to how much I would be taxed when I start a job. I left school with no understanding of how - as a citizen - I could shape the country we live in. I left our 'compulsory' education system with none of the skills or knowledge I needed to become an informed and responsible citizen.

Despite citizenship education being put on the national curriculum in England in 2002, not much has changed in regards to young people like me leaving school. Most don’t know they need to be registered to vote, nor do they develop the skills and knowledge we need to thrive as citizens. It just isn’t being taught to young people in school.

Headteachers need to take this subject more seriously and then standards would drastically improve. Most importantly, more young people would leave school knowing exactly what it means to be a citizen. They’d know their rights, understand their potential and appreciate how to #TakePower in democracy.

Justine Greening MP, our Secretary of State for Education, has the power and influence to ensure that citizenship is taught to a high standard across all schools in England.

So please join me and add pressure on Justine Greening MP to update the current citizenship guidance given to all schools and to email all headteachers urging them to teach it as a proper subject or to teach citizenship within the curriculum. By doing this we can improve the standards in schools that follow - and don’t follow the national curriculum.

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  • Secretary of State for Education
    Justine Greening

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