'Teach pupils to challenge authority'

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Pupils should be encouraged to challenge authority in new-style citizenship lessons, school inspectors will say today.

A report by Ofsted, the education standards watchdog, rejects the notion that the lessons - made a compulsory part of the secondary school curriculum four years ago - should be about teaching "compliance, good behaviour and the acceptance of values". It says that much of the best practice it has seen in schools has focused instead onchallenging and promoting a "critical democracy".

Inspectors are concerned about the 25 per cent of schools where the teaching of citizenship is "inadequate". "In a small number of schools there is no will to change because of other priorities, resistance to the idea of citizenship education or an expectation that it will go away," they say.

Professor Sir Bernard Crick, who conducted the inquiry which led to the introduction of the lessons, says: "If pupils discuss real political and social issues, they will then want to find out the principles behind them and by what means and through which institutions citizens can seek resolution of a problem."

The report suggested that GCSEs and A-levels in the subject should be developed.