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Schools pick a date with local history

THE study of local history in the primary school should be the natural starting point for more general study of Scottish history, a curriculum leader told the first conference of the Scottish Local History Forum last week in Glasgow.

David Duncan, director of corporate affairs at the Scottish Consultative Council on the Curriculum, told teachers and librarians that it nurtured a sense of belonging in young people and provided valuable links with other areas of the 5-14 programme.

The teaching of history had been in the public eye for some time, Dr Duncan said, and schools were now using a range of resources which made the connections between local and national history. "There is clear evidence that schools are addressing local and national themes in a clear and balanced way."

More use was being made of information technology and Dr Duncan singled out for praise the Scottish Cultural Resources Awareness Network (SCRAN), which was "attracting a keen following in schools".

Rhona Macleod, a teacher from Riverside primaryin Stirling, whose pupils joined those from two other primaries in presenting research on the story of their local environment, said that initially she had been reluctant to undertake the project which had involved libraries and the council's local history officer.

Primary 5 pupils, she thought, might not be mature enough, but after their first walk round the area, "a spark of interest in the past was lit" and by the time the reference books and detective notes for the project arrived, "the embers were glowing".

Ms Macleod found that the oral approach to teaching history best suited her class, and they matured and gained confidence: "Their oral and written work both improved and they are now keen to adopt a similar system in different areas of the curriculum."

Jim Thomson, a member of the local history forum and headteacher of St Paul's primary in Shettleston, Glasgow, looked forward to a developing partnership among schools, library services and local history groups from pre-five to Standard grade and beyond.

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