Anyone else HORRIFIED by the new history curriculum?

(79 Posts)
corblimeymadam Fri 08-Feb-13 10:55:51

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Matsikula Sat 09-Feb-13 22:24:10

Belgianbun is right - I did history sequentially at secondary school, and the chronology being what it is my knowledge of medieval England is scanty, but guess what, I can remember loads about WW2.

Kids will still end up leaving school knowing nothing about the Crusades, because it will have been boiled down to such a basic level, and have become a distant childhood memory.

Also got to love the fact that British political history apparently ends with Margaret Thatcher!

legalalien Sun 10-Feb-13 06:57:10

I'm just a parent, and ds is at an independent school, so i probably don't have speaking rights. Fwiw, i think it's important to have a bit of a chronological overview. At the risk of outing myself as a complete geek, when ds was about 5 we spent a long afternoon creating a very poor quality "timeline" around the walls of our study, with dinosaurs at one end and a picture of ds at the other, and over the next few months blu tacked up pictures of wwii aircraft, egyptian gods, anything we came across really, with the aim of getting a general idea how stuff fitted together. Now we have a kings and queens wall chart that is consulted at random intervals (eg when they found richard iii's bones the other day). I would have thought that something like that at ks1 would serve the purpose.

I'm not a teacher but i can't see how you'd get through all the stuff listed for ks2 in any meaningful depth in a million years!

legalalien Sun 10-Feb-13 07:01:40

Also, it's all very british isn't it?

When i studied secondary school history in the colonies smile there was much more of a global element. I remember at gcse level studying apartheid in South Africa, and then comparing/contrasting with Irish history /sectarian issues in Ireland. And at a level we studied the unification of Italy and of Germany.

HanneHolm Sun 10-Feb-13 07:32:22

I disagree Belgian. I think their tee building on their knowledge of what went before.

HanneHolm Sun 10-Feb-13 07:33:58

Kenneth baker said years ago that history ended twenty years ago. ;)

Rooneyisalwaysmoaning Sun 10-Feb-13 07:34:16

It might be wrong but my instinct on this, as a parent, not a teacher, is that the government shouldn't have any say in what is taught.

They are an uneducated bunch of buffoons anyway, what would they know?

They ought to let people who have studied teaching and history/any other given subject, make the decisions.

I've had enough of the tories, I really have.

Rooneyisalwaysmoaning Sun 10-Feb-13 07:35:44

Oh and I can remember ZERO from history lessons at secondary school. Absolutely zero.

(and biology, and chemistry, and physics, and geog)

that may say more about me than my teachers though.

elliepac Sun 10-Feb-13 08:19:53

Speaking as a secondary school Head of History in a school that is not an academy the new curriculum horrifies me. We regularly have over 100 students choose History (and this was the same before the EBacc) and I can only see numbers going down.

Yes chronology is important but not at the expense of skills and conceptual understanding of key historical themes such as power and conflict.

As the history curriculum stands at the moment, we do go over ground that has been covered before but many pupils arrive with factual knowledge but no knowledge of key historical skills such as analysis of sources, evaluation, interpretation and significance. Primary school history is taught by non-specialist who, I have no doubt, do a fantastic job with the time and resources allocated to the subject. However this also means they do not teach the key skills needed particularly in upper KS2 when all the emphasis is on the SATS.

The new KS3 curriculum is entirely post 1700 and British centric. To give you an idea we currently teach the Romans and Medieval Britain in Year 7. The Tudors and Stuarts, Slavery and the Industrial Revolution in Year 8. Wars (1st, 2nd, Cold and Vietnam), the Holocaust and Britishness in Year 9. Over 50% of that has been removed for very dry topics such as British politics in the 19th century. I did that at A level and I found it boring, try engaging bottom set Year 8. There is hardly any social history and a large emphasis on political history. he had removed from the KS3 curriculum everything that is interesting and engaging.

It would appear Mr Gove wants a generation of pupils who can splurt out facts and he is not bothered about the skills as mentioned above which make History relevant and foster interest and enthusiasm.

This is all aside from the fact that this new curriculum will make 75% of our resources obsolete. I have £2000 per year budget and that has to cover all stationary, photocopying, textbooks etc. Textbooks alone are £15 each. £459 for a full class set.

This is also bearing in mind a new curriculum was only introduced 4 years ago when we changed everything. We have a chronological/thematic curriculum which our pupils enjoy and which produces good historians and excellent take-up at GCSE. If it ain't broke.......

My final point was mentioned upthread. I am lucky to work in a school where History is valued and where we have 4 History specialists. We are in the minority. A lot of schools now teach humanities and/or have non-specialists teaching KS3. The mind boggles over the impact upon the subject nationally.

The man is an ignorant buffoon and I can only hope that during the consultation process someone will make him see sense.

HanneHolm Sun 10-Feb-13 09:32:09

In surprised you still do Romans tbh. Thought most sec schools had binned that

soverylucky Sun 10-Feb-13 11:53:24

elliepac I agree 100% with everything you have written. Our department follows pretty much exactly what you have outlined. I am still friends with many who qualified with me years ago. They also teach pretty much the same. All of them teach the Romans.

elliepac Sun 10-Feb-13 12:24:11

Thank you sovery smile. Most secondary history departments U know teach roughly the same as us, including the Romans. Reason being the Romans played a more than ample part of the civilisation we have today and are therefore an integral component when teaching about the evolution of society. I don't understand how anyone could not teach the Romans. Plus they were pretty damn interestinggrin.

Picturesinthefirelight Mon 11-Feb-13 21:10:19

That's really interesting. I loved history at school did 18th century social & economic for gcse and got an A

Did a level at 6th form & it was almost all political. Napoleonic wars and endless stuff about the Whigs and the Tories. I failed the first year and was allowed to continue by the skin if my teeth. It was so boring and irrelevant. Who cared what tiny bit of land was won, then lost then won again by the French. I did pass in the end but only with a d grade.

VioletStar Mon 11-Feb-13 21:34:16

elliepac and sovery - wow! That's pretty much what we taught until we were told KS3 had to be put into 2 years and kids start GCSE history (if they choose) in Year 9 (exam in year 10 - no resits). My worry is how to put all that into 2 years, get their skills up to speed and keep it interesting for the students so that they want to continue at early GCSE.
Thanks a lot Mr Gove! and that's even before we consider resourcing it all again.

historymum79 Tue 12-Feb-13 11:23:21

The most important thing about this is that the curriculum as it stand WILL NOT improve children's historical understanding.

Teaching a long list of information is not a fast track to improving chronological understanding. Children will then have no appreciation of how or why things happened or developed.

The sheer weight of content will also make it impossible to teach especially for primary teachers. This means that children will be unable to engage with subjects and just come out with meaningless information such as "Henry VIII had six wives" with no understanding of why or the impact this had on the United Kingdom and beyond.

This kind of list and an overly focussed approach on content also removes the oppotunity for many children to gain the important skills of reading, writing and critical thinking which can be transferred to other areas of the curriculum.

It is really important that everyone responds to the consultation and emails their MP, this will only change if peoples' inboxes are bulging with worried parents. smile

Mellingtons Tue 12-Feb-13 12:39:55

As a mother and history teacher of 10 years, plus now working with the Historical Association, the subject association for history in schools, I am deeply saddened by what has been published. This draft curriculum is disastrous for history in schools. It takes no account of child development, is extremely narrow, Anglo-centric and political in nature and throws up huge issues for schools. Primary teachers, who are largely non-specialists will be suddenly expected to deliver the complexities of the Crusades and the Reformation among other things. Where is the training for this? Primary schools will have to re-resource. Where is the money for this? If the complexities of the topics studied at primary level cannot be fully understood by children at Key Stage 2, this will leave a gaping hole for key stage 3 teachers to try to fill when they pick up the thread in key stage 3. The fact that everything pre 1700 has now been lumped into the primary curriculum now makes for an extremely dry key stage 3 curriculum. This added to the heavy over-prescription (remember that we were promised a slimmed down curriculum) will lead to no time for anything other than a gallop through of narrowly focused, insular content with tokenistic attempts at the inclusion of women, world history and issues of diversity. This will lead to a whole host of kids being rubbish at history, but possibly great at pub quizzes!
If you want to do something about this - take a look at the Historical Association website and take our poll www.history.org.uk Why not write to your local MP? If as many people as possible do this - there are sure to be questions raised in the commons.

Mellingtons Tue 12-Feb-13 12:41:53

PS Kenneth Baker has also said that it is not the job of the government to determine the content of the curriculum.

That history poll is here

elliepac Tue 12-Feb-13 18:08:18

Poll already completed and draft consultation responded to. We need to get as many people as possible to do the same. For the sake of subject. I have seen many polls from the Historical Association but never seen one where the results are so one-sided.sad

soverylucky Tue 12-Feb-13 19:11:00

MP emailed, Hisorical Association poll completed, email to BBC completed, email to the Daily Mail completed (they love an education story - it is NOT my paper of choice) Just the draft consultation to respond to and an email to Mr Gove.

historymum79 Wed 13-Feb-13 13:24:08

I think we need to encourage all our mum friends to email MPs so it is not just teachers "moaning as usual" in the eyes of the government. Well done to everyone who has done stuff so far!

Euphemia Wed 13-Feb-13 20:13:25

I'm shocked by this - when I first saw mention of it here I assumed it pertained only to secondary education.

In Scotland, there is no such prescription at primary level. We have to cover key elements of Scottish, European and World history, but there's no list of topics we have to cover. There would be a riot of the Scottish government tried that here!

Matsikula Wed 13-Feb-13 21:51:40

Just thought I would add, I'm going to try to respond to the consultation. I am not a teacher, just a history graduate and concerned parent.

Jux Wed 13-Feb-13 23:10:46

I went to a Prep school 50 years ago. We did history as a series of completely unrelated snapshots - major battles, dates of relevant monarchs. It was unutterably boring and I didn't bother with history again until I was in my 20s when my best friend's current boyfriend was a history buff and started talking one evening about how this caused that, and so then this happened and as a result..... It was one of the most fascinating hours I had ever spent, just listening to one person talking.

I am so glad dd wasn't subjected to Prep-school type history, if mine was typical. She loves history. It's her favourite subject, she will be doing Ancient History at GCSE as well.

I believe you all when you say this proposed change is a bad thing, and as dd's experience of history has been so successful, I have no idea why it should need changing except for the sake of it.

Mellingtons Thu 14-Feb-13 10:35:18

It seems that many of us are dismayed at what has been published. If you want to change this, please complete the Historical Association poll (link above - thanks ohyoubadkitten) and reply to the consultation, write to your MP.

Copthallresident Thu 14-Feb-13 11:12:20

I am an academic who is doing an interdisciplinary PhD in a historical topic and who graduated in History in the 70s and then went back to do an interdisciplinary MA 8 years ago. I am also a parent of two enthusiastic historians. They are enthusiastic because they have been inspired since a young age by people's stories, and not exclusively powerful white men's stories. I could weep at this sad derailing of the way in which History has developed as a subject which understands the importance of everybody's story, it is totally out of step with the study of History in universities. I am quite sure University academics will be joining teachers in condemning these proposals as setting back the study of History to being the dry uninspiring study of "one thing after another" from the perspective of powerful British white men, it was when I was at school. I went on to a lifelong love of History in spite of it, not because of it.

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