A 12 year-old Warrington-born girl was invited to Westminster by the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families, Ed Balls, to present proposals for making citizenship compulsory in all of Britain’s schools.
Emma Ratcliffe is the grand-daughter of the late Mildred and Vincent Ratcliffe, who successfully campaigned for the rights of older people in Warrington in keeping the Capesthorne Community Centre open in the face of potential closure by Warrington Borough Council four years ago.
Emma went to London and personally presented a Charter to Mr Balls and Jim Knight, the Minister of State for Schools and Learners, proposing compulsory citizenship lessons for all junior and senior school children.
She was one of just five children chosen nationally to present the case for compulsory citizenship lessons to central government.
Emma, who now attends Withington Girls’ School in Manchester, said: “Citizenship prepares young people for the real world outside school. It helps people to make their own decisions and take responsibility for their own lives, from being more tolerant towards those around them, to knowing how to manage their credit cards, bills and other finances. It can be hit and miss whether citizenship is on the agenda in schools, and I was putting the case that issues like these are surely worth teaching all young people before they leave school.
“I was the youngest person there, and Ed Balls and Jim Knight were asking me my views on how I thought the proposals could be introduced and my experiences of how citizenship was taught in junior compared to senior schools. They asked really searching questions, but took a real, serious interest in what I was saying. They were very nice and listened hard to my suggestions.”
The proposals are now being considered by the Department for Children, Schools and Families.
Picture shows Emma with Ed Balls in his office.
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