AQA, the only exam board to offer AS and A levels in citizenship studies, has announced that it is intending to drop the subject from the qualifications it offers from 2017. The British Humanist Association (BHA) believes that citizenship education has a vital role to play in equipping young people with the knowledge and skills to take their place as citizens in a thriving democratic society, and has expressed alarm at the prospect of the subject being dropped.
Citizenship education has faced several years of uncertainty in English schools, with the Expert Panel for the National Curriculum Review having recommended in 2011 that the subject be removed from the national curriculum, which the Government thankfully ignored; and the subsequent curriculum review proposing to remove human rights from the programme of study, a decision that was reversed after the BHA and others spoke out. Last week the Government published new GCSE citizenship studies subject content, including references to ‘the UN Universal Declaration on Human Rights, the European Convention on Human Rights, the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, the 1998 Human Rights Act’ for the first time.
The latest blow, therefore, comes as a particular disappointment. As a result, Democratic Life, a coalition of organisations that supports citizenship education and which includes the BHA, has organised a letter to AQA, signed by David Blunkett MP, President of the Association for Citizenship Teaching (ACT), Lord Phillips of Sudbury, President of the Citizenship Foundation, and 16 other citizenship experts, calling for the decision to be reversed. Democratic Life is also organising a petition on the same subject.
BHA Education Campaigner Richy Thompson commented, ‘Citizenship education is vital in educating young people about equalities, human rights, and what it means to take an active part in democratic society, living cohesively with their neighbours and engaging in social action to better their communities for all. At A level such education seeks to help those who will go on to become the most engaged citizens, shaping the lives of future generations for the better. If no-one offers this qualification then that will damage our country and undermine the very values our Government has declared are fundamental to society.
‘I therefore hope that anyone reading this will join me in signing the petition urging for the qualification to be kept.’
For further comment or information, please contact Richy Thompson on 020 7324 3072.
Read AQA’s announcement: http://www.aqa.org.uk/supporting-education/policy/gcse-and-a-level-changes/structure-of-new-a-levels
Read the Citizenship Foundation’s comment: http://www.citizenshipfoundation.org.uk/main/news.php?n1120
Read the letter organised by Democratic Life: http://www.democraticlife.org.uk/2015/02/13/help-david-blunkett-and-higher-education-professionals-save-the-citizenship-a-level/
The British Humanist Association is the national charity working on behalf of non-religious people who seek to live ethical and fulfilling lives on the basis of reason and humanity. It promotes a secular state and equal treatment in law and policy of everyone, regardless of religion or belief.
The BHA is a member of the Democratic Life coalition.