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Ed Waller

History Curriculum Review

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Thought members here who aren't members of the Schoolhistory version might be interested on the conclusion that some in that forum are coming to about the future of history.

The complete thread can be found here.

The final post from RJH is as follows:

Hi folks,

What do you think about the following:

The transition from KS3 to GCSE in terms of skills doesn't really work very well. In terms of content, far too many departments are repeating courses at KS4 that have already been studied in some detail at KS3.

Solution: You make History into a core subject at KS4. You then give departments the flexability and time they need to deliver the current KS3 content from Yr 7 to 11. Departments could choose for example to study Era of the Second World War in at KS4 or Expansion Trade and Industry which could then be examined under a revised Modern World History or Economic and Social History exam?

By covering the current KS3 over five years rather than three would allow departments to spend more time delivering all the aspects of the current courses whilst giving them flexiability to do their own depth studies on local history or themed topics like medicine through time?

Imagine having the flexiability to do a GCSE course on Black Peoples of the Americas? You could create a really exciting GCSE course. Instead of having to do Modern World History or Economic and Social at GCSE you could even pick Black Peoples of the Americas for Paper 1 and then for Paper 2 do Modern World History or something else!

I believe that there is a very strong case for making history a core subject, especially considering the problems that our society is facing today. We need to create a strong sense of shared cultural identity to combat terrorism, selfish individualism and to help students understand not just the international situation, but what it means to be British in the multicultural society that we have always been.

I believe that in an age where religion is declining, history could help to create a new moral framework to help teach tolerance, understanding, citizenship for the modern British Citizen. We have enough content on death, destruction, sex, noble endeavour and human rights to do a much better job than RE!

I find these last two paragraphs a little scary.... showing an ahistorical view of history.... Does the poster mean Blair's ideology and behaviour in Iraq when wanting "to combat terrorism, selfish individualism"?

The whole thread is worth reading if you can.

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I believe that there is a very strong case for making history a core subject, especially considering the problems that our society is facing today. We need to create a strong sense of shared cultural identity to combat terrorism, selfish individualism and to help students understand not just the international situation, but what it means to be British in the multicultural society that we have always been.

I find this paragraph deeply disturbing.

Also it is rather interesting that a forum which bans people for making "political" posts can come out with such right wing claptrap, and presumably believe it is apolitical comment, without even the slightest hint of irony :P

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Thought members here who aren't members of the Schoolhistory version might be interested on the conclusion that some in that forum are coming to about the future of history.

The complete thread can be found here.

The final post from RJH is as follows:

Hi folks,

What do you think about the following:

The transition from KS3 to GCSE in terms of skills doesn't really work very well. In terms of content, far too many departments are repeating courses at KS4 that have already been studied in some detail at KS3.

Solution: You make History into a core subject at KS4. You then give departments the flexability and time they need to deliver the current KS3 content from Yr 7 to 11. Departments could choose for example to study Era of the Second World War in at KS4 or Expansion Trade and Industry which could then be examined under a revised Modern World History or Economic and Social History exam?

By covering the current KS3 over five years rather than three would allow departments to spend more time delivering all the aspects of the current courses whilst giving them flexiability to do their own depth studies on local history or themed topics like medicine through time?

Imagine having the flexiability to do a GCSE course on Black Peoples of the Americas? You could create a really exciting GCSE course. Instead of having to do Modern World History or Economic and Social at GCSE you could even pick Black Peoples of the Americas for Paper 1 and then for Paper 2 do Modern World History or something else!

I believe that there is a very strong case for making history a core subject, especially considering the problems that our society is facing today. We need to create a strong sense of shared cultural identity to combat terrorism, selfish individualism and to help students understand not just the international situation, but what it means to be British in the multicultural society that we have always been.

I believe that in an age where religion is declining, history could help to create a new moral framework to help teach tolerance, understanding, citizenship for the modern British Citizen. We have enough content on death, destruction, sex, noble endeavour and human rights to do a much better job than RE!

I find these last two paragraphs a little scary.... showing an ahistorical view of history.... Does the poster mean Blair's ideology and behaviour in Iraq when wanting "to combat terrorism, selfish individualism"?

As Andy has pointed out, this is the same person who has criticised us for bringing politics into history teaching. In reality, we are all political when we teach history. It is just a question of whose side you are on. The people who run the School History Forum support the dominant ideology. Therefore, they do see themselves as being political when they support the status quo. However, those who dare to criticise those in power are immediately being “political”. In other words, they are suffering from false political consciousness. However, they are not a lost cause and you should do what you can to help them understand the political world they are living in. Andy and myself tried for many years to do this, but we have now been excluded. Hopefully, those left behind, will continue the struggle.

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The struggle goes on....

:D

There have been posts about racist use of CSE vs GCE, protestations of fighting 'tooth and nail' to save history... and I've just pushed the debate towards the whole White Paper on 14-19 which doesn't make pleasant reading for anyone teaching history or geography etc. :D

Apparently Jerome Freeman is reading the thread 'over there' with interest... Pity he doesn't feel interested enough to post.... :rant equally a pity that C Culpin doesn't respond to pm

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The struggle goes on....

:D

There have been posts about racist use of CSE vs GCE, protestations of fighting 'tooth and nail' to save history... and I've just pushed the debate towards the whole White Paper on 14-19 which doesn't make pleasant reading for anyone teaching history or geography etc. :rant

Apparently Jerome Freeman is reading the thread 'over there' with interest... Pity he doesn't feel interested enough to post.... :D equally a pity that C Culpin doesn't respond to pm

Why would he want to post? It would mean that we would have evidence to pin him down with when the review goes against everything we suggest! :lol:

Re: John's point about politics, I made a post earlier in the discussion (Ed picked up on that!) just in case people were not clear what was really involved... :D

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Ah well folks, you try to have an honest debate. I'm disappointed in you Ed. Nick, you take my resources, borrow my ideas ..... I would like to add to the record that I haven't made any racist comments about CSEs. As someone who has always gone the extra mile for the kids I teach I find you guys, well ..... I'm a gentleman. Shame you guys don't understand the meaning of the word.

Roy

Edited by neil mcdonald

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PS I hope that you are not infering on this website that I have made racist comments about CSE? Does this open you up for slander!

Edited by neil mcdonald

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I really think this has got out of hand. No one is saying anyone is racist - my discussion, and Ed's reporting of it, was to link to the idea of racism(s) with PAST uses of the CSE. When I spoke, it was from personal experience without pointing the finger at anyone. It is unfortunate that this has really become a matter.

Regarding my point about politics, I have always maintained that it is integral to the process of history teaching in ALL its forms. The Gramsci reference that I made to you before would make this very clear. We may disagree, but I'm certainly not trying to make enemies. I'm not really one for picking fights and I think you have misunderstood the points that I raised with you privately and publicly. That is all I have to say on the matter and if you would like to sort it out, I suggest you PM me.

Edited by Nick Dennis

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Ah well folks, you try to have an honest debate. I'm disappointed in you Ed. Nick, you take my resources, borrow my ideas ..... I would like to add to the record that I haven't made any racist comments about CSEs. As someone who has always gone the extra mile for the kids I teach I find you guys, well ..... I'm a gentleman. Shame you guys don't understand the meaning of the word.

Roy

I'm presuming that this is the part of a post from SchoolHistory Forum that has since been edited out by Roy.

My comment about racist use of CSE was about Nick's post and his comment about his brothers being forced into CSE rather than GCE and nothing at all to do Roy's post, which was a comment on the lines of a return to tiered history exams, like in the days of CSE and GCE.

It's a little hurtful that the confusion occurred.

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Students do receive credit at the moment although it may not be an A-C pass. Maybe you should look at a short course GCSE or change the exam board to help those students who are not performing. The main issue I think is the valuation of the grades, with anything below a C seen as a fail. Society buys into it, and to a certain extent, you are too. For some of the students I teach, a 'D' grade is a massive achievement and I'm very proud of being part of that. Thank goodness we have residuals to show this to the outside (non-teaching) world. Such an achievement should be celebrated for what it is - a personal achievement. Should this not be celebrated in this era of 'personalised education'?

I have a clouded picture of the CSE exam system - all my brothers were made to sit them instead of the 'O' level. They were made to do it because (I think I can say this without a hint of controversy) they are black and were seen as incapable. A generation of young black people in the 70's and 80's were forced to sit the exam because of racial stereotyping. That is not to say ALL teachers held these stereotypes but racial stereotyping was much more obvious in society in general at the time - remember the idea of the 'Enemy Within', the various riots, the prominent role of the NF? I do, mainly because I lived in London and experienced many of the prejudices myself. Would I rather have a system that curbs the cultural predilections of the powerful but still has flaws? Yes please.

I would really like to see what a vocational GCSE History course looks like. I know OCR is running a pilot scheme that includes more practical elements. Is anyone actually running it/going to be running it?

I fear that if History became a core subject, certain restrictions would be placed on what is taught. Have you read anything by Rob Phillips? He has done a lot of work on the creation/problems of the history curriculum.

One of the appalling aspects of the 0/CSE system was that racism sometimes played a part in the teacher’s decision to place students in certain exam groups. However, I would argue that it is also an issue of class. It is a truism that all teachers are middle class. The examination system reflects middle class culture. Their judgements are influenced by their own cultural values. As Basil Bernstein pointed out many years ago, in academic work in schools, we insist that students use what he calls the “elaborated code”. This is the language of the middle classes. Therefore, to do well at school, working class children need to learn a new language. This of course puts them at an immediate disadvantage and most fail to make this transition. Even those that do, they suffer because their parents find it difficult to give them the support that they need (all research shows that it is what goes on in the home rather than the school that is the major influence on academic achievement).

The research that explained the class nature of educational achievement mainly took place in the 1960s and 1970s (Basil Bernstein, Colin Lacy, David Hargreaves, Douglas Barnes, Douglas Holly, Brian Jackson, Dennis Marsden, Geoff Whitty, Stephen Ball, etc.). One of the consequences of this research was the introduction of Comprehensive schools. However, as these researchers pointed out, this would not end this problem (see Stephen Ball’s Beachside Comprehensive). Nor would common exams. However, both these reforms were important as it was thought that it was reduce the power of teachers making judgements based on class and race.

When I was at school I refused to learn this “elaborated code” (so did my brother and sister). As a result I left school without qualifications. However, all three of us became involved in politics, found out how the system worked, studied in our spare time, took the necessary exams and entered the middle classes. Our children of course benefited from their middle class environment and have had little difficulty dealing with our education system.

The reforms that took place in the 1960s and 1970s have been undermined since the Tories took power in 1979. This resulted in a tiered approach to education. This included the structure of the schools and the examination system. It is now forgotten that the 1960s reformers were not only calling for comprehensive education but for mixed ability teaching. One of the first things that Thatcher did was to apply pressure on the teacher training institutions to remove the “politics” out of the training. This is why so many teachers (see the debates that we used to have on the Schools History Forum) do not understand the political aspects of schooling.

Blair has mirrored the policies of Thatcher and virtually all of his reforms have undermined the original ideas behind comprehensive education. After all, how can we expect him to understand the problem, after all, he is a public school boy who has had no experience of what it is like to be a working class person trying to survive in a middle class system.

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It's a little hurtful that the confusion occurred.

It is important Ed never to underestimate the stupidity of some of your fellow history teachers!

Whilst I read this thread this morning I was overcome with the weariness that used to descend on me in former times when using the School History Forum. It is very clear that there are some history teachers still in desperate need of a political education. Even to the extent that they are unable to follow the contents of a fairly transparent debate without misinterpreting it or wholly misunderstanding it.

It troubles me that some of these characters hold managerial responsibility within their own schools.

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It troubles me that some of these characters hold managerial responsibility within their own schools.

Sorry, I'll resign my HoDship with immediate effect.. :D

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It troubles me that some of these characters hold managerial responsibility within their own schools.

Sorry, I'll resign my HoDship with immediate effect.. :D

I wasn't referring to you :D

But your proposed course of action may well solve a few TLR related issues for your headteacher!

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This issue is not just about the teaching of history. It is really about the way schools are structured.

In 1995 David Blunkett, the then shadow education secretary said at the Labour Party Conference “read my lips: no selection”. However, as another Labour Party MP, David Chaynor, has admitted recently: “Every policy we’ve introduced (since 1997) has made this process more selective.”

The Blair government has done this by protecting the remaining grammar schools while widening selection elsewhere, with the introduction of specialist schools and the promotion of expanded faith schools.

It has been clear for sometime that Blair is attempting to undermine the principles of comprehensive education. As a former public school boy he has never been a supporter of this key area of Labour education policy. However, it is surprising that he has been allowed to get away with it. This is partly because most Labour politicians are willing to sell out all their beliefs in order to get promotion.

The other factor concerns Labour’s “focus groups” of floating voters. It soon became clear that education was a primary concern for these voters. Parents understandably want their children to be educated in the best schools available. This is also true of the working-class but as we know, they are less likely to vote in elections. If they do, education is not as important issue as it is to the middle classes. Blair therefore concluded that educational policy must be developed that satisfies that middle-class families who were not diehard Tory supporters and potential Labour voters. This of course has meant the undermining of comprehensive education.

One of the first things Blunkett did when he became education secretary in 1997 was to appoint Sir Cyril Taylor as his chief adviser. Taylor was a member of the Conservative Party who was a well-known critic of comprehensive education. Later Taylor was appointed as chairman of the Specialist Schools Trust.

The Sutton Trust has just carried out a survey of the top 200 state schools (based on GCSE results). They then looked at data provided by the National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER). They have discovered that the vast majority of these “high-achieving” schools have developed very complicated admissions procedures, which includes aptitude tests and interviewing parents. The conclusion is that schools are using the admission procedures to covertly select middle class children in order to improve exam results.

This high-ranking in the league tables has resulted in high-income families moving into the school’s catchment area. Apparently, they do this to save money paying private school fees. This in itself increases its ranking in the league-table.

As a result of this activity, those schools with poor examination results, find it extremely difficult to attract local students who have shown academic potential at primary school. This of course makes it even more difficult for these schools to improve its exam results.

According to the National Foundation for Educational Research, the average proportion of pupils eligible for free school meals (the standard measure for deprivation) in UK schools is 14%. In the top 200 schools (based on GCSE results) it is 3%.

As Sir Peter Lampi of the Sutton Trust has pointed out, as a result of these selection procedures: “The best state schools in the country are effectively closed to the majority of less well-off families. We’ve replaced an education system which selected on ability with one that is socially selective: the best comprehensive serve the relatively affluent.”

According to other research, parents’ income as an indicator of how well a child will do in school has become even more pronounced now than under the Conservatives.

As Barry Sheerman, chairman of the Commons Education Select Committee said recently: “This research pinpoints what is happening in our leading state schools and how the more socially disadvantaged pupils are being dramatically short changed, even if they live close to a good school, by a system that favours affluent families.”

Sheerman and the rest of the cowardly Labour MPs are unlikely to make a fuss. Labour is no longer the party of the poor and disadvantaged. Who cares about them anymore, after all, they rarely vote anyway. Labour, like the Tories, is the party of those who have done well out of our capitalist system.

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