FOI release

Citizenship (and human rights) in the curriculum

An FOI disclosure about ministerial attendance at a meeting about citizenship in the curriculum.



  • Date requested: 30 March 2011
  • Publish date: 19 April 2011
  • Updated: 26 May 2011


Which ministers and officials from the DfE attended the meeting of European Education ministers in Hungary on 29 March 2011 that discussed citizenship education and what they said or presented in their contribution to this meeting.

If no one attended this meeting, could he department provide a reason for this?


The department can confirm that no Minister was available to attend the meeting. The UK was represented by Peter Drummond, Director of the DfE/BIS/DWP Joint International Unit.

At the meeting, Peter Drummond spoke on two topics that were raised for discussion by the Hungarian Presidency, and he made the following points:

With regards to active citizenship education:

  • The UK government is committed to ensuring that all children and young people develop as responsible citizens and play an active role within society. We believe that it is important that young people learn about the history of our parliamentary democracy and how our system of government has developed.
  • We have recently launched a review of the National Curriculum in England. The new National Curriculum will be returned to its original purpose so that it sets out only the essential knowledge, concepts and processes that children should be expected to acquire in key subjects during the course of their school career. In doing so we give schools greater freedom to plan and set their curricula so that they can better meet the needs of their pupils, and give teachers more time and space to exercise their professional expertise to plan lessons that engage and inspire all their pupils.
  • European cooperation can best contribute to the development of active citizenship through the exchange of best practice and ideas. The European Year of Volunteering this year, is also an example of how we can cooperate together in Europe to increase the active citizenship of our young people.

With regards the development of entrepreneurial skills:

  • The core of the government’s approach to education policy is trusting professionals, and leaving behind top down prescription. We want to give teachers the freedom to decide how to teach, and to some extent what they teach, their pupils.
  • In line with our policy of greater autonomy for schools, we feel that it is for schools to decide whether and how to focus on entrepreneurial skills and financial literacy. For example, this could take the form of enterprise education, either by buying in services from enterprise education providers or arranging their own enterprise activities. This has proved popular. Currently more than 90 per cent of schools offer enterprise education to their 14-16 year old students.
  • Good quality mathematics teaching is also fundamental to improving pupils’ financial literacy. In order to raise achievement levels in mathematics, we are currently looking at the evidence on effective pedagogy for teaching arithmetic in primary schools which will inform future policy in this area of education.
  • On the EU-level, we would see value in cooperating on this issue through policy exchange. The valuable discussion that we are having here today is a strong example of how this can work effectively.
Published 19 April 2011