Socialist Worker

Gove re-writes history (curriculum)

by Andy Stone
Issue No. 2341

Michael Gove is facing a storm of protest over the draft history curriculum published earlier this month.

Luminaries from History UK, the British Academy and the Royal Historical Society have attacked it. The Historical Association, which represents thousands of history teachers, has rejected it.

It is dominated by the actions of “Great Men” and a parade of kings and queens.

History which considers the experiences and movements of exploited and oppressed groups, is virtually absent.

And history is presented almost exclusively through the lens of Britain and “her Empire”.

So the only respite from a seven to 11 year olds’ trawl through the British Isles from the Stone Age to the 1707 Act of Union will be some ancient Greeks and Romans.

The Ancient Egyptians, previously taught to primary students, are gone. Africans don’t appear in the new curriculum at all until they are enslaved.

It wilfully disregards everything teachers know about age-appropriate learning.

For example, five to seven year olds are expected to understand such concepts as “civilisation” and “parliament”.

Enquiry skills such as analysing evidence and comparing interpretations will be squeezed out.

The Tories put historian Simon Schama in charge of devising the new curriculum.

Even one of his advisers, 2010 Tory candidate Steven Mastin, says the final product bears “no resemblance” to drafts he worked on just a month before publication.

Mastin has decried the fact that “We will be the only jurisdiction in the western world that won’t teach world history”.

If you teach history (at whatever level) and would like to be part of the campaign, email

Click here to subscribe to our daily morning email newsletter 'Breakfast in red'

Article information

Tue 19 Feb 2013, 16:26 GMT
Issue No. 2341
Share this article


Mobile users! Don't forget to add Socialist Worker to your home screen.