Students want more politics taught in school

64% of young people intend to vote when they are eligible to do so. School students want more time spent on politics, economics and the law.

On Monday night the Citizenship Foundation celebrated its twentieth anniversary at the Law Society. To mark the event, the Foundation conducted a poll with YouGov this month asking almost 4,000 14-25 year olds about their attitude to political participation, politicians and power in the UK.

The poll found that:

  • 64 per cent of young people intend to vote when they are eligible to do so;
  • They want more school time spent on politics, economics and the law.
  • The recession, the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and the MPs’ expenses scandal are the issues that have increased their interest in politics;
  • Young people are most likely to learn about politics online, rather than at school or college or from their families;
  • 90 per cent feel that politicians do not give straight answers to questions;
  • They are less likely, it seems, to vote for charities or celebrities to run the country than mainstream politicians;

The President of the Foundation, Lord Andrew Phillips, said that the UK will never achieve equality before the law, and equality in democracy, as long as we fail to prioritise teaching citizenship. Without it, we are “not citizens, we are subjects”.

Michael Maclay, the Chair of Trustees, paid tribute to the twenty years of an organisation born at a lawyer’s kitchen table, which continues to fight for more effective participation and stronger communities. The Chief Executive, Dr Tony Breslin highlighted the importance of citizenship education, and cited the YouGov poll as evidence that young people are eager to learn these tools. But it was two kids from Bethnal Green who stole the show, spontaneously taking to the stage to tell us about their experiences of citizenship in action at their school, and passionately urging the guests to continue to help them “better understand ourselves and others”.

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