All Party Group publishes 'History for All?'

‘Every pupil should have the opportunity to study History should theychoose’

The All Party Group on Archives and History has called for a British history qualification at 16 based on a ‘broad chronological framework across all periods’. The recommendation is made in 'History for All?', a Report into the teaching of History in schools in England published on 16 January.

History for All? praises much good practice in History teaching in schools but makes a number of recommendations to improve the way History is taught and to increase the time given to History teaching up to the age of 16.

The Group’s findings include:

• There is much to be positive about. Universities are seeing enthusiastic students arrive to study History and there is much excellent and innovative History teaching in schools
• There are varying degrees of ‘participation and pass rates’. While in some places History is studied well and widely, in others it has been neglected and ignored
• There is concern in the historical community at reducing History at Key Stage 3 down to 2 years. The average 13 year old spends only one hour a week on the subject
• There is concern about repetition of topics, with many students studying the same topics at Key Stage 3, Key Stage 4 and at A level. This is usually stereotyped as ‘Hitler and the Henrys’
• Every pupil should have the opportunity to study History, should they choose; no school should discourage this simply because of its ‘potential effect on league tables’.

The Group’s key recommendations are:

• That the development of a British History qualification at 16 is investigated. Such a qualification should be based on a broad chronological framework across all periods. There is also a need to develop new research into the teaching of local history, as a way of approaching ‘new interpretations of British and International History’. The proposed qualification should be taught over Key Stage 3 and Key Stage 4 if possible so pupils are given a greater time span in which to develop understanding  of ‘chronology, narrative,  critical thinking and analysis’
• Consideration should be given to teaching Citizenship through the study of History and the All Party Group acknowledges the importance of Citizenship education.

The terms of reference for the evidence-gathering for the Report were:  To examine the current state of History provision in schools and to ask the question of whether History should be made compulsory for all pupils up to the age of 16. The Report relates to England only; the All Party Group would like to see comparative studies across the UK.

The Report is the result of four separate evidence sessions taken by the All Party Group in May and June 2012. History teachers, representatives from the historical community in England and representatives from examination boards took part. The Group is grateful for the contributions made.

The All Party Parliamentary Group on Archives and History is chaired by Dr Hywel Francis MP and has 76 members, many of whom are historians.  It exists to consider and promote public policy issues and internal matters related to the archives and records sector and the study of History associated business. The Archives and Records Association (UK & Ireland) provides administrative support to the Group.

Read the full Report here.