No future without the past

The Council for British Archaeology is one of many organisations concerned about the the primary guidance issued by the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority.

The guidelines may not be mandatory but we all know that schools tend to follow such recommendations closely.

It is regrettable that the QCA does not seem to have listened to the concerns of teachers, or even the Office for Standards in Education. The chief inspector of schools noted in his latest annual report that the literacy and numeracy strategies, as well as national tests in English and maths, were making it hard to provide a broad and balanced curriculum, and that the national literacy and numeracy strategies had only a mixed success or limited impact on standards.

The QCA's vision for primary teaching is still dominated by the old "three Rs", and fails to safeguard the broad and balanced curriculum to which children are entitled by law. This will be to the detriment of subjects like history, in which archaeology can play a major part. It will be increasingly difficult to equip children with a knowledge of, and concern for, their historic environment.

The Department for Education and Skills, through QCA, are therefore working against the spirit of the Department of Culture, Media and Sport, which is supposed to be working "to realise the full potential of the historic environment as a learning resource". This is hardly an example of "joined-up government".

The result may be a generation which can read, write and add but will be unable to apply these skills with the perspective of a knowledge of the past. As Simon Jenkins put it (The Times, July 5): "without history we are infants". This is optimistic - even infants may soon have little history on which to base their entry into the adult world.

Don Henson

Education officer

Council for British Archaeology

Bowes Morrell House

111 Walmgate, York

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