‘History lessons should be compulsory’

History should be a compulsory subject up to GCSE because too many pupils leave school lacking a proper understanding of the past, warns a Government adviser. This is from the Telegraph…

All children should be required to study history up to the age of 16 amid fears that too many pupils are leaving school lacking a proper understanding of the past, a Government adviser has warned.

History should stand alongside English and maths by becoming a compulsory subject throughout secondary education, it was claimed.

Steven Mastin said Britain was currently one of the few European countries – alongside Albania – to allow pupils to drop history before the end of school.

He also criticised an over-reliance on British history in the National Curriculum at the expense of an appreciation of the “great civilisations” of the world.

The comments – in a Telegraph.co.uk podcast – come amid continuing debate over the teaching of history in schools.

Currently, pupils in England, Wales and Northern Ireland are allowed to drop history at 14 as part of their GCSE options.

Just 30 per cent of 16-year-olds now take GCSEs in the subject and overall take-up has dropped by around a fifth since the late 90s.

Michael Gove, the Education Secretary, is attempting to drive numbers up by introducing the English Baccalaureate – a school leaving certificate that rewards pupils gaining good grades in a range of academic subjects including history or geography.

Speaking today, Mr Mastin, head of history at Sawston Village College in Cambridgeshire, said it was “quite a positive thing” that a third of pupils studied the subject at GCSE but insisted it was “certainly not enough”.

He said history was still perceived a difficult qualification by many pupils because of the emphasis on essay writing and interpretation of sources.

The Government should go further to drive up numbers by making the subject compulsory up to the age of 16, he suggested.

Mr Mastin, who has advised the Department for Education on a new history curriculum, said: “I share Michael Gove’s concern that more and more pupils should be opting for history or that schools should be encouraging children to opt for history.

“He’s hoping that the English Baccalaureate is going to help turn that around; I would like to see history become compulsory at 16 like it is in every single other European country other than Albania.”

Mr Mastin said all pupils should be required to learn a chronology of British history.

More (including a video podcast of the interview) at:  ‘History lessons should be compulsory’

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