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History prize for a good yarn

The chief executive of the School Curriculum and Assessment Auth-ority has criticised 60-year-old history textbooks for spreading myths but praises them for technique.

Sixty years ago pupils would come across the story of King Alfred burning the cakes told as if it were true, Nick Tate told a Council of Europe conference in York. Such tales were missing from modern textbooks but the new books also lacked vivid, detailed narrative, Dr Tate said.

A SCAA survey of old textbooks revealed a disturbing lack of historical content, he said.

* John Marks, the right-wing Open University tutor and education researcher, Dr Philip Evans, headmaster of Bedford independent school, and Graham Mackenzie, group chief executive of UES Holdings have been reappointed as members of SCAA.

But John Burn, principal of Emmanuel College, Gateshead, has not been reappointed, and David Quarmby, joint managing director of Sainsbury plc, has resigned due to pressure of work. The Department for Education and Employment will fill the two vacancies shortly.

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