Though the curriculum is skewed towards an advocacy of British values, there nevertheless remains a place for broader conceptions of geographic identity.
How might citizenship education be developed in the light of the intended exit from the European Union?
The 2016 referendum vote to leave the European Union has provoked a complex and still-emerging set of reactions, not least of which have been a rise in anti-European sentiment as well as vocalised antipathy towards EU migrants. In addition, arguments oppositional to freedom of movement and against those – such as refugees from the ongoing Syrian conflict – deemed to represent either a security or a resources threat to the UK have been seen to be on the increase. All of these raise questions for the role of citizenship education (Hoskins, 2016). Nationalist tendencies have been encouraged within the UK by the Brexit vote outcome, and there is surely a responsibility for educators dealing in citizenship matters and related subject areas to address such tensions in a productive and equitable way, emphasising the values of citizenship at local, national, and at international levels (Hoskins, 2016).
Some commentators, while aware of the inflammation of nationalist and other, even more, extremist political tendencies which have been given encouragement by the referendum vote, see this as an opportunity for debate as the referendum has opened up a critical space for teaching which is relatable to learners of all ages and levels (Cifuentes, 2016). Project work indicates that citizenship education can have a real impact in successfully challenging racist tendencies which might have otherwise have not only gone unchecked, but could have led to further discord and to violent incidents (Cifuentes, 2016).
With focused citizenship-related teaching under threat from core subject timetabling, there are pressures being exerted to regain a more central place for citizenship in UK schools (Lundie, 2016). Though the curriculum is skewed towards an advocacy of British values, there nevertheless remains a place for broader conceptions of geographic identity. Brexit perhaps is useful in that it gives a meaningful context for questions of citizenship, identity, and the political process to be debated with learners; it is an opportunity for proactive educationalists (Lundie, 2016).
Cifuentes, R. (2016) The Think project, Brexit and the urgent need for better citizenship education. Available at: https://www.opendemocracy.net/rocio-cifuentes/think-project-brexit-and-urgent-need-for-better-citizenship-education (Accessed: 12 October 2016).
Hoskins, B. (2016) Brexit and its implications for citizenship education across Europe – EPALE – European commission. Available at: https://ec.europa.eu/epale/en/blog/brexit-and-its-implications-citizenship-education-across-europe (Accessed: 12 October 2016).
Lundie, D. (2016) What to make of ‘British values’ in the aftermath of Brexit? Available at: http://schoolsweek.co.uk/what-to-make-of-british-values-in-the-aftermath-of-brexit/ (Accessed: 12 October 2016).