I don’t know about you, but other than the names of the three main political parties in the UK, I grew up knowing very little about politics until I reached university. It seems I am not alone, as a discussion on the BBC Free Speech Twitter earlier this month covered this very topic, with the majority of people calling for politics to take greater priority in our schools.
In UK state schools youngsters are often not even presented with the choice of learning about politics in in-depth lessons until they begin their A-levels at the age of sixteen. The most we can hope for is an underwhelming replacement which goes by the name of Citizenship and PSHE lessons. These lessons make up a mere one hour of the school week, often taught by the form tutor rather than a specialist in the subject. Politics rules the world we live in, from the amount of added tax we pay on our clothing, to the lessons in school which are made compulsory to the ever rising cost of food. So why is such a vital part of our lives being ignored until the age of sixteen, whereas youngsters now in Scotland are being given the right to vote whilst probably knowing little more than the basics of one of the most important topics in the world?
If our youths are being given substandard replacements to politics classes, how are we supposed to produce the next generation of great leaders from all areas of society? What we currently have is rule from the top down, as 54% of the representatives from the leading party in power, the Conservatives, attended fee paying schools. Can we really say that this party, like many others in Parliament, is truly representative of the nation’s ideals when just 7% of the UK’s population attended private schools themselves? With such high numbers of their alumni in parliament, are private schools approaching politics differently for state schools? I strongly believe that politics must be introduced in schools at a lower age, with sufficient teaching methods (personally, I see nothing wrong with primary school children being taught the basics) if we are to have a democratic government where everyone in the country participates in the decisions being made. It seems that subjects such as media and art are continually pushed at students in state schools, yet politics is left in the corner for those deemed intellectual enough to grasp its concepts later in life.