College will celebrate great English tradition

21st April 2000 at 01:00
ENGLISH etiquette, history and traditions are to reach a wider audience after the world's first college for the study of Englishness was launched this week.

The college will offer "an education in Englishness" to students of all ages from Britain and overseas.

Campaigners for English history founded the college after concerns that the country's past was being downgraded by reforms to the national curriculum.

Students at the St George Foundation College in East Sussex will learn English history with a focus on personalities such as Churchill, Nelson and Boadicea as well as English inventors, writers and sportsmen and women.

They will also learn "English good manners" and study the country's traditions and festivals - for example queuing and morris dancing.

They plan to provide residential courses at 15th century

Herstmonceux Castle, distance learning via the Internet and scholarships for pupils who cannot afford the fees.

The new college was the idea of the Royal Society of St George, a 10,000 member group dedicated to "England and Englishness" and the History Curriculum Association which last year campaigned for more English political history in schools, complaining that pupils were being overwhelmed by "politically correct" social history.

Chris McGovern, director of the History Curriculum Association and chair of the college's steering group, said the project aimed to promote patriotism.

He said: "If we don't succeed there will be a gap. It will be filled I suspect by te extremists, by groups who will use history and use ignorance to mislead people."

"We would be horrified if people thought this was something to do with a particular ethnic group. It is patriotic in the best sense.

"If you went to Scotland, Wales, or the United States and asked people if they are patriotic they would say yes. In England it is a dirty word."

They also hope to provide in-service training for teachers depending on demand - particularly those responsible for new citizenship lessons.

The college will offer three certificates aimed mainly at 16 and 18 year-olds - bronze, silver and gold - which the organisers hope will be comparable to the Duke of Edinburgh award scheme.

They hope the certificates will be recognised by schools, local authorities, employers, the Armed Forces and universities. There will be certificates for English history, institutions, business, culture, society and sport.

Dr Anthony Freeman of the History Curriculum Association said: "It's about how England ticks, how the country functions. It's about England's place in the world and how it makes its living."

The college will also target overseas students and non-certificated courses will be aimed at business people who want a better understanding of England.

The provisional cost of the intensive one-week residential course is pound;500 per student. Information about the foundation will be supplied to LEAs, sent direct to independent schools and can be found at www.st-george foundation.com.


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