December 2012
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New History curriculum- pity poor KS2 teachers

Not exactly what you want to hear on New Year’s Eve, but you might be interested in the leaks that were published in the Daily Telegraph concerning Gove’s plans for the new history curriculum. If we drill a little below the headline grabbing stories of the return of Cromwell( did he ever disappear?), Churchill, and Nelson, and the deletion of Mary Seacole we find some very disturbing changes being planned. Although I am appalled that Gove is insisting on his list of famous people and events that all secondary age pupils need to know, It is not KS3 that concerns me most. If one looks at the planned changes for KS2, and if one believes the leaks!, then I cannot image any primary teacher feeling anything other than abject dismay mixed with total disbelief. Only three main topics are being recommended: Ancient Greece, the rise and fall of the Roman empire and Anglo-Saxon and Viking settlement. Put crudely, junior age pupils will cover no topic beyond 1066 in four years . I am assuming this is based on the crude notion that KS2 should study the ‘bits that come before the KS3 topics chronologically thus avoiding studying the Romans twice. But this is surely just crass. How many pupils aged 7-11 will be as keen to study the Venerable Bede, Alexander thew Great and Athelstan as they would be to explore the Ancient Egyptians and the Tudors. Topics such as these have been the bedrock of primary history for years. They are as key reason why the teaching of history has risen from just 35% satisfactory in 1988 to over 65% good in 2008. Teachers know how to make these topics come alive. Now they will have to mug up on unfamiliar and largely under-resourced topics all over again, casting aside 20 years of phenomenal progress in history teaching. And that’s before I get going on the absence of local history
I just hope the Daily Mail has got it all wrong, again. In my bones, however,I have a horrible feeling that we are in for a major battle with Gove and I will be fighting KS2 teachers’ corner will all my might- Alfred the Great would be proud of me!

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