Lords Select Committee: Citizenship and Civic Engagement – evidence presented


Ta to stpetersschool.co.uk


A very long weekend read indeed! See below the vast range of evidence provided to the Select Committee. It makes you wonder how on earth this material can be treated seriously and given the attention it deserves.


More specifically see our IDYW contribution put together by Tania de St Croix, for which much thanks.  We focus on two of the questions posed re citizenship education and the NCS.

Dr. Tania de St Croix, In Defence of Youth Work – written evidence (CCE0218)

An excerpt :

2. Citizenship education (Q5)

2.1               We would like to remind the committee that education is wider than schooling and universities (formal education). While it is undoubtedly important for schools and universities to focus on political participation, it is also important to create conditions where a wider education sector – in our case, informal education, youth work, and community education – can flourish. This is particularly pertinent when we are discussing citizenship and political education. Political participation is best exercised in ‘real’ political situations, rather than only as role play; in other words, education through citizenship rather than only education about citizenship.

2.2              Youth and community work have a long history of being conceptualised as personal, social and political education. However, our political education role has not always been at the forefront, depending (ironically) on the policy priorities of the time. At times, political education has been envisioned in its more formal aspects even in youth work – e.g. youth parliaments, youth councils and young mayor projects. Such projects are valuable where they actively engage with a range of young people including many from marginalised backgrounds and communities (see for example the Lewisham Young Mayor project), rather than simply mirroring the demographics of Westminster.

2.3              The wider political education role of everyday grassroots youth work (e.g. youth clubs and street-based youth work) is intrinsic to an approach that treats young people as ‘creators, not consumers’ (Smith, 1982). While this has perhaps been neglected in recent youth policy and funding streams, mainstream youth work has a vital role to play, particularly in engaging with young people on issues that schools would struggle to deal with (such as young people who would like to campaign on education and schooling itself), and in engaging young people who are marginalised both in the schooling system and in having a say on political issues. Young people who do not feel comfortable or successful in school may not be inspired if political education is only, or mainly, associated with school.

Read more on our proposal to review the NCS and redirect its resources on the link above. Tania mentions the Lewisham Young Mayor project and in fact Kalbir Shukra, together with Malcolm Ball and Katy Brown submitted a specific report with regard to its philosophy and practice.

Dr Kalbir Shukra, Senior Lecturer, Goldsmiths University of London with Malcolm Ball and Katy Brown, Advisors to Young Mayor of Lewisham – written evidence (CCE0026)

An excerpt:

The Young Mayor Programme in Lewisham (LYMP) 

  1. A vibrant and internationally renowned civic youth participation programme, launched in 2003 by the first directly elected Mayor of Lewisham, Sir Steve Bullock. https://www.lewisham.gov.uk/mayorandcouncil/youngmayor/Documents/YMCommemorativeBook.pdf
  2. The programme pivots on the annual election of a Young Mayor (aged 13-17) who represents the 11-17 year olds who live, work or go to school in Lewisham. The annual elections are run to fill four roles: Young Mayor, Deputy Young Mayor and two Youth Parliament Representatives.
  3. The Young Mayor has a budget of £25-30 000. The Young Mayor and advisors consult young people on how to spend this budget and present their proposals to the Mayor and Cabinet for approval.
  4. Unsuccessful candidates tend to stay involved as Young Advisors. The Young Advisors meet weekly, in the town hall and engage with professionals seeking advice, offering services or requesting feedback from young people.
  5. The Lewisham model purposely provides minimal formal political because it is built on the ethos that political participation is about having the opportunity to share opinions.  As one young person has said ‘why do I need training to have an opinion?’
  6. Bernard Crick’s essay on Politics as a Form of Rule: Politics, Citizenship and Democracy’ (2004) points to the importance of promoting political literacy. In LYMP this is achieved by giving young people opportunities to become voters, campaigners and candidates. Participants grow a deep political awareness through engaging in the politics of representation and/or the politics of deliberation and social action.  These are cultivated through:
  7. The model allows young people to learn about politics and elections by engaging in real, formal elections. The process of standing as a candidate encourages a strong civic identity. Deciding who to vote for provides young people with the opportunity to exercise a right to vote alongside civic responsibilities.
  8. A weekly young advisors forum develops democratic group work and is core to the programme. The Young Advisors meeting is oriented towards deliberation and social action in the form of a team that acts in support of the four elected representatives but also to collaborate with policy makers, service providers and other young people
  9. Opportunities for intercultural contact during and between elections. The election brings young people from across the borough into contact with each other on a range of sites and produces learning through those conversations. International exchanges also boost international perspectives.

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