Letters extra: History denounced as irrelevant

3rd October 2003 at 01:00

The dilapidated state of some exclusion units means that lessons often take place in rooms originally intended for storage. My "classroom" adjoined the manager's office and so I was able to hear the views of the HMI designated to ease the unit out of special measures.

The HMI did not disappoint and opined that these pupils do not need History or RE, rather a "vocationally relevant curriculum," an opinion shared by the mandarins at Ofsted.

With trepidation I taught my RE lesson, which was marked "good or better"nbsp;nbsp;- the highest accolade you can achieve in special measures. However, the excellent performance of my students in history and their enthusiasm for the subject was put down to my "putting them up to it". Although a
student mistook my poster of Lord Kitchener for General Haig, this was a mistake anyone could have made given the "privet hedge".

I have reflected on the HMI's surprise that history could be relevant to these pupils. What better subject is there to give these kids a sense of perspective than history?

If the HMI had seen my students at the Imperial War Museum thoroughly absorbed by a model of trench construction, she would have had better sense than to question the relevance of history to both the lives and education of these pupils.

Julien Jones
Berkhamsted, Hertfordshire

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