If RE is compulsory in school, surely politics should be too. Why isn’t it?

Is the absence on the curriculum of politics because the public are easier to manipulate if they are ignorant of the inner workings of Westminster, asks the government’s former mental health champion in the TES.

Before the 2015 election, I attended an event organised by VInspired, a campaign group set up to engaged young people with politics. Two graffiti artists had been hired to engage in an ‘art battle’.

A volunteer circled the crowd of 18-25 year-olds with a microphone, encouraging them to shout out policies which would encourage them to vote. The street artists were then tasked with drawing whatever they heard, the idea being that they were creating a composite image depicting the assembled young people’s vision of a better society.

 It struck me that this was symbolic of a generation perceived to be politically apathetic but who, as anyone who works with them will tell you, are in fact incredibly passionate about social change.

Unfortunately, unless you have chosen to study it (and sometimes even if you have), politics is an ideological minefield. It’s virtually impossible for your average person to penetrate the platitudes and jargon, decipher the ‘fake news’ and make an informed decision.

With another general election around the corner, it seems to me perfectly sensible that politics should be a compulsory subject in school. After all, religious education is part of the curriculum up until Year 9 and understanding political theory is just as essential to understanding the world and the motivations of the people we interact with.

Critical thinking is a muscle we are encouraged to flex during our school years, so why is it that so many school leavers now claim not to have understood what they were voting for, during the recent Brexit referendum

It’s time to let go of the antiquated notion that politics doesn’t belong in the classroom. If we do not, we condemn young people to more of the same: a future where their needs are not acknowledged or met because it is known that their vote is not there to be won.  

Read more If RE is compulsory in school, surely politics should be too. Why isn’t it?

What do you think? Please tell us your thoughts in the comments or on Twitter ~ Tamsin

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  1. Agree in theory – but RE is taught badly and I can guarantee politics will be taught badly too. Can you imagine OFSTED allowing children to really and truly grasp what a tyranny is?

  2. Josh

    Quite interesting that the article states that “many school leavers now claim not to have understood what they were voting for, during the recent Brexit referendum? ”
    If ever there was a warning against giving children the vote at 16 this is it!
    Maybe Politics on the curriculum would help guard against that, but I’d worry that it would be taught in a biased way in many schools and that perhaps teaching critical thinking and philosophy would be a better use of scarce curricular time and provide many of the same skills.

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