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Hansard 14 Jan: Column 427 ...
Hansard 14 Jan: Column 427

Ofsted chief inspector of schools Chris Woodhead was not trying to veto proposals to introduce lessons and activities on citizenship, MPs were told yesterday.

Junior education minister Charles Clarke said the government would ensure citizenship has a key place in schools - drawing on the advice from the advisory group on education for citizenship and the teaching

of democracy in schools, chaired by Professor Bernard Crick - one of the groups in the current review of the national curriculum.

He told Ben Bradshaw, Labour MP for Exeter: 'No one is trying to scotch or veto any proposals. We are taking advice from the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority and a wide range of organisations on the best way to put into effect the reforms that we are discussing. I agree very much...about the importance of teaching politics and the approach to political life and democracy in our schools. That is one reason why many politicians from all parties have supported the idea of teaching citizenship in some way'.

Andrew Rowe, Conservative MP for Faversham and Mid-Kent, who has promoted youth parliaments and other approaches to teaching citizenship, asked the minister to encourage the growing number of

schools that are taking seriously ideas from their pupils about the running of their schools and the works they can do in the community.

But shadow education secretary David Willetts declared: 'Is not citizenship just one of a range of new curriculum topics that ministers want to impose on schools? When will they stop? There are a host of them, including 'values' and 'environmental awareness'. When will the government stop their remorseless flow of instructions and directives to teachers and schools - what the secretary of state

has just called partnesrhip? Does not the minister understand that the 322 communications sent from his department to schools and LEAs last year represent and impossible burden which is distracting

teachers from delivering the national curriculum and raising standards in schools?'.

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