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History fears for its future

HISTORY and geography teachers fear their careers are being put at risk by the expansion of specialist schools, writes Julie Henry.

They fear they will lose status and opportunities for promotion as their subjects are squeezed out.

Although humanities are part of the national curriculum, the number taking GCSEs could drop as other subjects take precedence. Language schools, for instance, have targets to increase the take-up of two or more foreign languages.

One history teacher told The TES: "We are competing against everything else and pupils are being encouraged to take other courses. We are losing the quantity of students and the quality. I'm a history specialist but will be expected to teach RE to fill my timetable."

New specialist schools in engineering, science and enterprise were announced by the Government last week, which aims to have ,500 set up by 2006. The Secondary Heads Association and subject associations have called for specialist humanities schools to be added to the list.

But Cyril Taylor, chairman of the Technology Colleges Trust, which has 900 affiliated specialist schools, said: "The country's gross national product is not going to be increased by having a lot of history graduates."

However John Hopkin, the Geographical Association's chair of assessment and examinations said: "I have every sympathy with disgruntled humanities teachers. I'm also concerned that schools can specialise in almost anything except geography and history.

"Many youngsters have talents in these subjects. Geography and history have an excellent record of promoting achievement in public examinations, and make a strong contribution to citizenship education and the life of the nation."

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