Inspectors tell schools: Bring back the Empire

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The Independent Online

Schools should spend more time teaching pupils about the British Empire in history lessons, a report by Ofsted, the education standards watchdog, says.

Schools should spend more time teaching pupils about the British Empire in history lessons, a report by Ofsted, the education standards watchdog, says.

Too many are concentrating on topics such as the history of Nazi Germany or even the United States' "Wild West", inspectors argue. Their findings follow claims by academics - such as Niall Ferguson, the television historian - that many neglect major parts of British history.

The report, on history teaching in schools last year, says: "The British Empire ... receives insufficient time in many schools. People should know more about the Empire and that it has been interpreted by historians and others in different ways.'' It says that choosing Nazi Germany as a specialist topic occurs too often.

It adds: "Other areas might be equally cited - for example, some schools focus on the Plains Indians as their pre-1900 world study for 11- to 14-year-olds." Pupils then study the history of the American West at GCSE level. The report concludes that the subject matter chosen by some schools is "hard to justify in terms of significance".

John Dunford, general secretary of the Secondary Heads Association, said: "It is impossible for the school curriculum to please everyone all the time. Schools should concentrate on the interesting and important aspects of school history and they do that.''

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