Abolish citizenship as a subject, Tories told

20th July 2007 at 01:00
pupils should learn about their British identities through a new compulsory 11-16 history course, with citizenship abolished as a separate subject, a panel of experienced history teachers has recommended.

The teachers, advising the Conservative shadow education team on the history curriculum, say the new course would ensure pupils were taught about the British Empire, Commonwealth and English, Scottish, Welsh and Irish history.

Sean Lang, chair of the History Practitioners Advisory Team and Historical Association honorary secretary, said: "Around 80 per cent of students drop history at 14 or earlier which means that they lose their entitlement to history.

"We believe that the only way to safeguard pupils' right to learn about their history is to make the subject compulsory."

The Government wants to see "Britishness" and Empire taught through an expanded citizenship curriculum. But the panel says the whole subject should be abolished and shared out between history, geography and personal and social education lessons. It wants secondary history to give pupils an overall narrative of British history with an end to the repetition of subjects such as Nazi Germany.

The teachers argue for a "major revision" of history GCSEs so that pupils are introduced to differences in the interpretation of historical events and their ability to construct a historical narrative is tested.

They claim current mark schemes penalise candidates showing initiative, imagination and wide historical knowledge when they should be given A* grades.

The panel calls for "highly formulaic and unhistorical" exam questions based on short extracts to be replaced by historical enquiry based on real documents available online from museums, archives, libraries and heritage agencies.

The same sources should be used to provide resources for the whole history curriculum.

This would mean the end of current arrangements which "allow examiners to profit from their own examinations by writing 'badged' textbooks and encourages narrow 'teaching to the test'." The panel also wants to see funding for on-the-job subject knowledge training for history teachers.

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