February 2012
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Tightening GCSE history

History teachers across the land are trying to work out the full implications of Gove’s latest announcement that GCSE history needs ‘tightening’ for teaching in September 2013. I’m pretty sue that this is simply Gove’s knee-jerk reaction to the exam board scandal featuring WJEC history examiners. As with the Gg and Eng.Lit examples- 2 subjects also being looked at- the issue was one of topic spotting. Gove clearly does not want schools to teach only a small part of a full specification and is anxious that history is being dumbed down because only enough content is being taught to ‘get through’. I’m not sure that the remedy Gove has in mind is for compulsory short questions on everything on the spec or indeed more exams. His main target is the one where topics are examined in random rotation e.g. aspects of Lib gvt 1906-18. Why should it be that teachers who pay to attend training courses run by the board get insider information?
I’m pretty sure this is Gove’s target. If he wanted root and branch reform of GCSE history why did he not consider this alongside the review of the curriculum? What has emerged from the review is simply the issue of compulsion.
Of course the whole notion of tightening history is just a joke. If it was easier than others subjects why has it had a stubbornly negative residual for over 20 years!! He may have the wrong subject in his sights but it was ever thus with history and Tory Secretaries of State. Just remember he won’t be in the job much longer-they never stay!

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