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A learner’s journey through democratic education

A good democracy education will ensure that all learners have the opportunities they need to become “ethical, informed citizens who understand and exercise their human and democratic responsibilities and rights” (Curriculum for Wales).

Schools can support progress both by teaching learners about democracy but also giving them opportunities to learn through democracy by creating a participatory school culture. Through a literature review, The Electoral Commission have identified 6 principles for good democracy education. 

  • Principle 1: Learn about democracy
  • Principle 2: Participate in democratic processes
  • Principle 3: Use their voice in open discussions
  • Principle 4: Contribute to their community
  • Principle 5: Be part of an inclusive culture
  • Principle 6: Get involved in decision making

In addition to these principles, the evidence is clear that commitment by the headteacher to meaningful participation all year round is essential. This includes developing a genuinely participatory school culture that intentionally empowers learners, rather than using it as a means of control or as a way to imitate democracy.

Embedding democratic education in the Curriculum for Wales: Humanities

  • Informed, self-aware citizens engage with the challenges and opportunities that face humanity, and are able to take considered and ethical action
  • Human societies are complex and diverse, and shaped by human actions and beliefs

  • Local, national and wider world perspectives, including Welsh Politics 
  • Deep thinking and reflection 

  • Develop an understanding of the discipline and its value
  • Encourage conceptual understanding of the world by learning about people and their values, in different times, places and circumstances
  • Provide rich contexts to explore social issues, identity, rights and responsibilities, and social organisation
  • Encourage active participation and engagement with social issues through social enquiry, discussions and social action
  • Develop an understanding of how systems of government in Wales operate and affect people’s lives, and how they compare with other systems
  • Explore the concepts of governance, rights, equality, inequality, ethnicity, gender and poverty

A range of opportunities to visit and explore including:

  • places of political, religious or spiritual significance

A range of opportunities to engage with:

  • political, business, community and/or cultural leaders

A range of opportunities to observe or participate in: 

  • social action projects

 Local, national and international contexts 

  • Local, national and international contexts are integral and form part of the key principles relating to the choice of content.

Human rights education and diversity 

  • Experiences can help learners develop an understanding of their responsibilities as citizens of Wales, the diversity of Wales, and an awareness of how their own rights are influenced by interpretations of human rights, values, ethics, philosophies, and religious and non-religious views. In this Area there should be opportunities to develop understanding of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) and for encouraging learners to recognise their own and others’ rights.


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