Fight the history curriculum

22nd February 2013 at 00:00

The proposed programme of study for history must be credited with two things. It has managed to unite the usually fractious history community in uncompromising opposition to it, and has produced in primary school staffrooms gales of laughter.

Laughter, because it is difficult to treat seriously a curriculum that intends to teach five-year-olds about civilisation and proposes that key stage 2 pupils should be subjected to a sterile plod through history from the Stone Age to the Glorious Revolution. It is hard to see the learning rationale for ending all those exciting units on the Victorian world and evacuees, which successive Ofsted reports included in their identification of good practice. It is even harder to be enthusiastic about teaching seven- to 11-year-olds about key developments in the reign of Athelstan, Wycliffe's Bible or the Union of the Crowns.

This attempt to create a curriculum based on the contents of an early 1950s textbook is simply dogma. It ignored the advice of appointed "experts", turned its back on decades of development in history teaching and seems based on nostalgia for didactic sequential history teaching. The programme of study for history not only represents a lack of understanding of primary schools, it also provides an image of an education secretary who refuses to talk to the teaching profession who have to deliver this. Then again, the history national curriculum may just be another inducement for primary schools to become academies which, of course, don't have to teach this nonsense.

Dave Walker, Chairman, Humanities Association.

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