More British history at A-level

14th April 2006 at 01:00
Every A-level history student will have to spend at least a quarter of their time studying Britain's past under changes proposed by the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority.

The changes to the syllabus have been brought in because of criticism of the over-emphasis on Hitler and Stalin in many history classrooms.

Currently, schools are allowed to devote only a sixth of their lesson time to Britain's past. Until recently, one syllabus allowed students to do five of six A-level modules on Germany 1917-39.

The changes are revealed in the authority's wider proposals to reduce the number of A-level modules from six to four from 2009.

The draft plans, which lay down rules for exam boards in devising syllabuses, state that students should study a "substantial" amount of British history.

For the first time, the guidelines also propose that courses should be "broad and balanced".

The boards will also have to set students more sophisticated questions on the use of historical sources. The Historical Association says that, currently, teenagers can be given two one-line extracts and asked to point out similarities, an approach it condemns as "dull and lifeless".

The proposals also leave open the possibility that the personal study, in which teenagers can complete a historical investigation of their choice, could be scrapped from history A-levels.

A QCA review is expected to remove coursework from many subjects by 2010.

Heather Scott, chair of the Historical Association's secondary committee, said the move from six modules to four would be welcomed by teachers and students as it would mean more time for teaching rather than revising. She said she would be concerned if coursework were scrapped, as teachers and students loved it.

* warwick.mansell@tes.co.uk

Leader 16

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