At TalkPolitics, we believe that political education in schools is essential in tackling voter apathy, particularly amongst young people, and in raising awareness about key issues.
The arguments are plentiful. You can rattle them off one-by-one: a Politics class for 14-16-year-olds would give them a better understanding of how the world around them works. More politically knowledgeable teens would be more likely to vote, and thus key decisions (such as referendums and elections) would be more representative. The universal understanding of politics and the decisions being taken by the government makes the government more accountable for its actions. Perhaps best of all, political education negates the effect of media spin and bias – we would form our own opinions, rather than simply doing what we’re told.
The case of Brexit, post-EU referendum, is a perfect example. Whichever way people voted, the almost unanimous consensus is that the general public wasn’t given all the facts – or even misled over key issues. At TalkPolitics, we think the whole campaign could have been less divisive, and the debate more constructive, had we all been politically educated.
Our plan for Political Education in schools is simple: we want the government to urge all schools to offer Politics as an option for students between the ages 14-18 – either as a full, examined qualification (GCSE or A-Level or Highers) or as a graded project, similar to an Extended Project Qualification (EPQ.)
We want a curriculum that is fair, non-biased and balanced – making it essential that it is either written by a cross-party committee, or by an independent body with complete transparency. We believe that teaching should be based on facts – so as to negate opportunity for teacher bias and extension of ideologies. Teachers should also be thoroughly vetted for extreme political views before being made eligible.
The examination should prioritise freedom of expression, and encourage students to extend and explore their opinions, rather than requiring them to regurgitate textbooks, dates, and “agreed upon” thoughts. This could be either in the medium of an examined debate or through an essay which enables pupils to establish their own strain of thought.
The next generation needs Political Education. Are you with us?