Leading article: In praise of compulsory history lessons

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The Independent Online

That half of Britons in their early twenties do not know that the Romans built Hadrian's Wall, or that Nelson led the British to victory at Trafalgar, is evidence of young people leaving school "woefully undernourished" in history, Michael Gove lamented yesterday. Absolutely right. But the Education Secretary should resist the inevitable Tory temptation to take the National Curriculum back to a focus on Kings and Queens.

True, students need to learn dates and facts as well as broad themes and fashionable flashpoints. But what is wrong with the present curriculum is not its lack of rigour but the fact that there is insufficient time to teach it. Since the 1980s – and, coincidentally, another Conservative Education Secretary – what was designed to be taught in five years has been crammed into three. The answer is a simple one. The comprehensive teaching of history should be made compulsory to the age of 16.