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Five major areas of Scottish history to be compulsory learning

The introduction of a compulsory Scottish history paper to the Higher history exam is an "exciting" development, according to Tom Monaghan, president of the Scottish Association of Teachers of History. It was also "manageable" and "practical", particularly given the wealth of sources available for Scottish history, he told The TESS.

The new paper, which will be unveiled next month by the Scottish Government, will cover five major areas of Scottish history - the 13th- century Wars of Independence, the Reformation, the Treaty of Union, the experience of migration and Empire, and the impact of the Great War.

A spokesperson for the Scottish Qualifications Authority said: "There were other topics which were equally worthy, but it was felt that those chosen would be attractive to both teachers and, more importantly, candidates."

The review of the Higher history course content was prompted nearly four years ago when that year's exam paper contained no questions on Scottish history. This was condemned by academics, notably Professor Tom Devine, and their concern is shared by Education Secretary Fiona Hyslop.

When the SQA appointed a development officer to investigate the role of Scottish history at Higher level, his research revealed that national history in comparable countries - Wales, Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland, New Zealand, two Australian states, Germany, and England - had a higher profile.

The history assessment panel of the SQA recommended that the source-based Paper 2 should become an entirely Scottish paper; in a national consultation in summer, 2007, history teachers backed this proposal by two to one.

Learning and Teaching Scotland will publish accompanying materials later this year. Mr Monaghan, who has seen them in draft form, described them as so good that teachers would not have to buy textbooks to teach the course. It will be introduced in 2010, with first certification in 2011.

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