Pupils give up on history lessons

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More than two out of three youngsters have given up history by the time they reach GCSE level, according to new figures published today.

They show the numbers sitting history GCSE have steadily declined for a decade since 2007 past decade – from 35.4 per cent of the age cohort in 1997 to 30.9 per cent in 2007. That means a total of453,679 youngsters failing to take the subject in 2007.

The figures were obtained by the Conservatives whose schools spokesman Michael Gove accused ministers of encouraging youngsters to move away from "harder" academic subjects in order to improve league tables.

The new figures follow a report on history teaching by Ofsted, the education standards watchdog, which said too much of history lessons was dominated by a concentration on Nazi Germany or the Tudor period. Children, it added, were often repeating topics, and as a result had a "relatively weak" understanding of historical chronology.

Paul Armitage, history adviser at Ofsted, questioned whether the history lessons on offer were sufficiently relevant to pupils. In one case, seven and eight-year-olds were given three topics to study in a year: the Romans, the Second World war and ancient egypt. They went from one to another - and thus had little understanding of the chronology of historical events.