Michael Gove wants to reverse the decline and fall of the teaching of British history
New statistics reveal that five million pupils of school leaving age have missed out on studying GCSE history since Labour came to power. The percentage sitting GCSE history has dropped from 35.4% to 31.0% since New Labour came to power.
“The number of children studying history beyond fourteen has fallen to less than one pupil in three. The Government’s league tables encourage schools to push pupils away from harder subjects, even if they are of more long term value. The Government’s new curriculum will further water down history at primary schools, as well as removing science from the core curriculum. All these reforms take us completely in the wrong direction.”
David Cameron has already complained about the "Tapas" approach to history teaching where children are given bite-sized and disconnected instruction on isolated events and no narrative. Michael Gove worries about a "new dark ages of British history" with, for example, the Glorious Revolution going untaught. He fears that there is little knowledge of the nation's island story but a narrow focus on a few important chapters such as Tudors and Stuarts and World War II.
The Conservatives aim to overhaul the history curriculum from ages 11 to 14 and the history GCSE so that pupils get a much fuller picture of British history. Schools minister Nick Gibb is looking at the primary syllabus and Tory candidate Stephen Mastin has brought together a group of history teachers to advise the frontbench education team on next steps.
Speaking to me yesterday Michael Gove paid tribute to the role of broadcasters in informing children and the wider nation about British history. Mentioning Simon Schama, Tristram Hunt and Andrew Roberts, Channel 4, he said, was doing a good job at bringing history to life and he paid particular tribute to two recent films on 1066. They were "accessible and real," he said.
Three years ago, ConservativeHome readers voted to make British History compulsory at GCSE.