Learning History and Citizenship

I’ve previously discussed the bias in history textbooks in the UK. In his most recent blog entry, Mail on Sunday columnist Peter Hitchens looks at how the approach to British history seeks to undermine everything that is British.

At the same time that Britishness is being de-emphasised to the British, it is being heavily enforced with those who want to move here, or those, like me, who have been a long time but want to become citizens. New immigrants or those who want to upgrade their status have to take the Life in the UK test. It’s mostly aimed at limiting the number of dark-skinned people, but since the law has to be seen to be impartial, it takes in palefaces like me who are not from EU member states.

Since they keep increasing the fee, I can’t afford to apply for citizenship. Thus I haven’t bought the book I need for studying to take the test. The test costs £34 for each sitting. I have had a look at the website linked above, to see what sort of things I need to know.

You would think that someone who speaks English as a first language and is certified to teach Citizenship to GCSE level wouldn’t have any trouble with the test. Surely they wouldn’t expect new immigrants to know more than someone with a good GCSE grade. Oh yes, they do.

I was just looking at the most recent available past paper for the OCR’s Citizenship Short Course GCSE. The bits that aren’t multiple choice or short answer are based on provided sources. The examinee doesn’t have to know any citizenship – they just have to be able to read for comprehension.

Typical GCSE questions:

State one example of a global evironmental problem
Citizens of the UK have rights and responsibilities. State one employment right that citizens have.
State one legal responsibility parents in the United Kingdom have to their children aged under 16.
State one employment right that citizens have.

Included topics in Life in the UK test:

How is the process of buying a house different in Scotland?
What are the powers of the devolved administrations?
How is European law organised?
What are quangos and non-departmental public bodies?
How can people find a dentist? (Clearly a trick question)
Which groups of people receive free dental treatment? (See the previous question)
How is education different in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales?
Who can offer information on occupational or personal pensions?