UNA-UK today submitted a response to the UK Department for Education's consultation on reform of the National Curriculum, which focussed on proposed changes to citizenship education.
A strong supporter of the citizenship curriculum since its inception, UNA-UK was delighted by the decision earlier this year to retain citizenship as a statutory foundation subject for Key Stages (KS) 3 and 4. We believe that citizenship is the only subject that enables pupils to explore Britain’s role on the world stage and pressing global challenges from a multidisciplinary perspective.
However, UNA-UK has some concerns about the new draft programmes of study. The draft removes the existing curriculum references to the United Nations, and makes scant mention of human rights. It omits a range of global issues - from poverty relief to sustainable development - which have hitherto been included in the curriculum. And while its focus on Parliament and volunteering is commendable, we fear that this presents too narrow a view of what active and responsible citizenship entails, particularly for young people who are not yet able to fully take part in democratic processes.
UNA-UK believes that pupils should understand and appreciate Britain’s international roles and responsibilities. They should learn about the impact that global issues and multilateral decision-making have on their lives. This must include teaching about the United Nations. They should also learn about how local, national and international institutions interact with each other. This should include equipping pupils with the knowledge, skills and confidence to participate actively on all three levels.
The National Curriculum should challenge, motivate and inspire young people. Learning about global affairs and institutions, as well as the important role that the UK plays internationally, will help pupils to understand the world in which they live and to navigate it more effectively. Ultimately, this will contribute to the UK’s future security and prosperity.