The Training and Development Agency for Schools has said the number of places on secondary PGCE history courses will be reduced from 848 to just 601 by 20078.
The 29 per cent cut is the highest for any subject, with only art and design coming close at 26.6 per cent. It compares with an overall decrease of 10 per cent across secondary PGCE courses. RE and maths have been hit to a lesser extent.
The History Teacher Education Network which represents staff running the courses, said the cuts could threaten the viability of history teacher training in as many as 11 universities which would have 12 or fewer students by 20078. Leeds university has already decided to close its course this summer.
The History Association believes more training for existing teachers is needed to combat the "Hitlerisation" of the curriculum. Sean Lang, the association's honorary secretary, said: "It is not good long-term thinking in terms of continuous professional development. It will have a knock-on effect on the status of the subject. The TDA allocations were set according to recruitment targets set by the Department for Education and Skills."
A DfES spokesman said: "Secondary places as a whole need to fall to reflect the decrease in pupil numbers. Subjects have been cut in relation to whether or not they have high vacancy levels.
"In January 2005 history had the lowest rate of vacancies and is not therefore a priority for new recruitment."