Call to put Empire at centre of GCSE history

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Britain's imperial past should be at the heart of the school history curriculum, according to the leading historian Professor Niall Ferguson.

The author of the Channel Four TV series Empire: How Britain Made the Modern World said the Empire was "the big story of British history in the modern world". At a summer school for English and history teachers organised by the Prince of Wales, the professor rejected criticism that emphasising Empire would glorify the imperialist past.

"It's not all Baden-Powell," he said. "Instead it is a mixture of economic, social and political history which would put contemporary British society into context."

A study of Britain's involvement with slave trading, for example, made little sense without the Empire.

His remarks coincide with a review of the school history curriculum ordered by Charles Clarke, the Secretary of State for Education. Mr Clarke said he was concerned at complaints from universities that pupils spent too much time learning about the Nazis and too little on British history.