Connect with us:

Newsletter Februrary 2015

DM newsletter heading2

Feb 2015 – Vol. 6.2

Education for practical politics and people power

Here are 15 things you may find interesting this month:

  1. Partnership with the Crick Centre for Understanding Politics
  2. Can education help people to influence the general election?
  3. National Voter Registration Day is 5 February!
  4. The right to be heard: Manifesto for Community Development 11 Feb
  5. Call for evidence on constitutional implications of Scotland clauses
  6. Citizens, money and global learning for teachers on 12 Feb
  7. Global Educator of the Year Award nominations
  8. Britain’s First ever youth leader’s debates on 26 March
  9. Introduction to campaigning workshops in Wales & Birmingham
  10. Making sense of Magna Carta for Citizenship Education 5 June
  11. Unlock the Magna Carta Events
  12. Citizen Participation in the NHS
  13. Benefits advice service for involvement
  14. Commission on ‘Learning for Democracy’
  15. Book on ‘Pedagogy of Power: Learning for democracy’

In more detail:

1. Partnership with the Crick Centre for Understanding Politics

Democracy Matters is working with the Crick Centre for Understanding Politics to widen participation in the democratic process. The Centre is an externally facing research centre at Sheffield University that engages with community groups, broadcasters (eg BBC Radio 4), professional bodies and voluntary organisations around the world. It aims to ‘talk with multiple publics in multiple ways’, from street art to academic articles, in order to breathe new life into politics.

2.  Can education help people to influence the general election?

Politics affects everyone, whether they like it or not, so people might as well learn how to make it work for them. This election is unpredictable, with a hung Parliament likely. This creates opportunities for people to influence events, if they know how. See my blog for ideas and resources for political education during the election, such as the Citizens UK community manifesto and citizens’ assembly; campus engagement activities; the WEA’s ‘Why Vote?’ Project and materials, Speakers’ Corner hustings and ‘legislative theatre’ used in Brazil to involve people drafting laws with local communities: check them out here.

3.    National Voter Registration Day is 5 February!

Please help Bite the Ballot get more people registered to vote: Go to and download resources to promote registration. Share the #TakePower video on social media: and #NVRD on social media. Tell what events you’re running in February

4. The right to be heard: Lecture & discussion 6 – 8.30 pm 11 Feb

John Diamond will give the Keib Thomas Memorial Lecture on Reasserting the right to be heard:

Manifesto for Organising Community Development for Social and Political Change – Post May 2015 on Wed 11 Feb, 6.00 pm to 8.45pm at London Metropolitan University, Henry Thomas Room TG30, Tower Building, 166-220 Holloway Road, N7 8DB Booking required:
5.    Call for evidence on constitutional implications of Scotland clauses
Parliament’s Political and Constitutional Reform Committee will scrutinise the Government’s draft clauses to enact the Smith Commission Agreement for further devolution of powers to the Scottish Parliament. The Government’s Paper, Scotland in the United Kingdom: an enduring settlement(Cm 8990), to which the draft clauses are annexed, is available here.

Written evidence submissions for this inquiry should be made via this link by Thursday 19 February 2015 at the latest.

Follow the Committee on Twitter @CommonsPolCon

6.    Citizens, money and global learning 12 February

Foreign affairs: citizens, money and global learning in Key Stage 3 and 4 Citizenship training day for secondary teachers run by the Association of Citizenship Teachers.Thursday 12 February 2015, ifs University College, Monument, London. Please book here.
7.    Global Educator of the Year Award nominations

Do you know anyone who inspires colleagues or students to understand the world and how to make it more just and sustainable? Then please nominate them for Think Global’s new award.

The winner will get £500 and their work will be featured on Think Global’s national teacher website to inspire other schools and teachers. The winner’s school will also receive two free places on Think Global’s top-rated online CPD course, ‘Developing a global learning school’ (worth £1,000). The deadline for nominations is 16 March 2015. Visit Think Global’s Global Dimension website for more information and download a nomination form.
8.    Britain’s First ever youth leader’s debates on 26 March

SHOUT OUT UK are hosting the first debate between leaders of the youth wings of five major British political parties on 26th of March from 18:45 at 43 Lancaster Gate, London, W2 3NA –

To book a space: Please see website

Get involved and stay in touch: The Facebook Event Can Be Found HERE

Join the Discussion on Twitter#YLDebate
9.    Introduction to campaigning workshops

Sheila McKechnie Foundation‘Introduction to Campaigning’ workshops are on:

·        Thursday 19th March in WCVA Morfa Hall, Bath Street, Rhyl, Wales,

·        Tuesday 28th April in Scotland Street, Birmingham, B1

To find out more visit

The annual People Power conference will be in the autumn this year.
10.                           Using the Magna Carta in Citizenship Education

The Magna Carta TeachMeet on 5 February, 16.00-18.00 is an opportunity to discuss ways of teaching Magna Carta, organised by the Association for Citizenship Teaching and the British Library, including the British Library’s Magna Carta: My Digital Rights– a new free learning resource that encourages students to debate digital rights and responsibilities.

Making sense of Magna Carta for Citizenship Education5 June

Shami Chakrabarti, Director of Liberty, is speaking at ACT’s one day CPD event for Citizenship teachers and subject leaders on how to make use of Magna Carta in Citizenship, History and Politics/Social Studies. The day includes workshops on

·        How Magna Carta supports key concepts in Citizenship,

·        New resources for teaching big questions in law, politics, democracy and rights through Magna Carta

·        Magna Carta for the Digital Age and legacy teaching resources inspired by the British Library’s My Digital Rights project

Plus FREE entry to British Library’s exhibition Magna Carta: Law, Liberty, Legacy

5 June 2015, 9.30-4pm British Library Conference Centre, 96 Euston Road, London

For more details and to book go to ACT events
WEA Magna Carta courses

The WEA is working with the Magna Carta Trust to run adult education courses on the Magna Carta in South East England and Yorkshire. Dates to be confirmed.
11.                        Unlock the Magna Carta

Democracy Matters members are working together on 12 events about the legacy of the Magna Carta and what we need to protect rights and freedoms (most dates to be confirmed): Birmingham, Bristol (June), Cambridge, Croydon, Durham, Edinburgh, Leicester, Lincoln (end Feb), Liverpool (May), London, Manchester (28 March), Nottingham and possibly the North East.

15 June, 6- 8pm, House of Commons: groups come together

Have you done the Unlock Magna Carta quiz yet?

Contact Francis Foley by email or by phone: 020 7278 4443 for details.
12.                         Citizen participation in the NHS

The NHS, health and social care are big, complex issues which the election is unlikely to resolve. NHS England is creating an “NHS Citizen System” to increase participation and accountability for health. Join the conversation on Twitter at @NHSCitizenor email NHS Citizen. The following picture shows some of the creativity in developing and testing a model and methods for enabling citizens to hold the NHS Board to account and distil issues for their attention.
Valuable as this is, it inhabits a safe bubble away from the frustrations of Patient Participation Groups, staff and communities struggling with institutional realities and incessant shifts in demand, funding and structures that affect our health.

NHS England has a useful guide for Understanding the NHS, which aims to showeveryone working and training within the NHS how it works. Apart from local government and Healthwatch as the ”independent consumer champion for health and social care”, agencies for patient and public participation are not mentioned.

Three key questions for citizens’ engagement with health services are:

1.     How does it connect and represent the diversity of local voices?

2.     How do citizens get a mandate to speak with a collective voice at any level?

3.     What powers do they have, other than persistence and persuasion?

At present citizens have only two channels of democratic accountability over health services – through elections to Parliament, thence the Health Select committee and Secretary of State, and through local councils, which oversee local public health through Health and Wellbeing boards. In reality power is diffused among professionals and concentrated in the hands of the Secretary of State and Department for Health. Patient participation remains at the periphery.

13.                        Benefits advice service for involvement

One of the many challenges of involving people in the NHS or other public services is the cost of participation, particularly if participants get state benefits and are paid expenses or a fee for their trouble. To address this INVOLVE offersadvice and support on how payment of fees and expenses for public involvement in health or social care research, service design or service deliverymight affect people in receipt of state benefits. The service is provided by Bedford Citizens Advice Bureau, initially as a one year pilot. To access the service email or phone 02380 651088, giving the name of the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) organisation or programme which funds the research project involved.

@NIHRINVOLVE #ppibenefitsadvice
14.                        Commission on ‘Learning for Democracy’

I am working on a proposal for a Commission to ask three questions:

  1. What abilities do people need to take part in politics effectively?
  2. What is the current state of political knowledge and ability, and where do people get it?
  3. By what means can political ability and understanding be developed, particularly for with least power to take part in politics?

The aim of the Commission would be to advise government and public agencies which provide information, education and support for participation in politics, including schools, colleges, universities, community groups, local authorities, public service and public service media. Please get in touch if you are interested in getting a Commission off the ground.

  • Book on ‘Pedagogy of Power: Learning for democracy’

Last but not least, I am writing a book on the case for teaching practical political skills as a core subject for democracy to work, to be published by Trentham, an imprint of the Institute of Education Press. I am keen to include case studies of good practice as well as illuminating failures, so do get in touch if you can help.

Spread the word

Do pass this information to your networks, and send me news for next month.

Best wishes,



Titus Alexander


Democracy Matters

Mobile: 07720394740

Leave a Reply

Skip to toolbar