Clarke orders review of school history teaching

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The Independent Online

Charles Clarke has ordered a review of the school history curriculum after complaints that pupils spend too much time learning about the Nazis and too little on British history. In an interview with the BBC History Magazine tomorrow, the Secretary of State for Education describes the trend as "a serious criticism that we have to address".

Prominent historians such as Dr David Starkey have criticised the way history is taught in schools. The subject is compulsory up to 14 and pupils are supposed to cover British history from the Middle Ages to the 20th century as well as key events in European and world history.

Ofsted, the education standards watchdog, supports the criticism, saying most pupils are opting to study Hitler's Germany as a specialist topic. Inspectors add that schools are failing to develop a lasting knowledge of history or a sense of chronological events among their pupils.

In his interview, Mr Clarke says: "A lot of people, people I respect, say there is not a sense of a timeline in history, so pupils have too much detailed study of particular eras and not enough of a sense of context for what has happened.

''That's not simply an appeal to go back to dates and kings and queens but it is saying that by the time children are 14, they should have a good appreciation of the history of this country, Europe and the context within which things happened. I will ask the qualifications and curriculum authority [the Government's exams watchdog] to look at these matters."

Last year, Thomas Matussek, the German ambassador to Britain, said the way history was taught in UK schools, with concentration on Hitler, perpetuated anti-German feelings.

* Mr Clarke was robbed of £100 in sterling and euros by a woman pickpocket next to him in first-class train seats as he travelled from London to his constituency in Norwich South, police said. No date was given.