HMI: Curriculum Matters

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1 English
2 The Curriculum
3 Mathematics
4 Music
5 Home economics
6 Health education
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History from 5 to 16
HMI Series: Curriculum Matters No. 11

London: Her Majesty's Stationery Office 1988
Crown copyright material is reproduced with the permission of the Controller of HMSO and the Queen's Printer for Scotland.


The complete document is presented in this single web page. You can scroll through it or use the following links to go straight to the various sections:

History from 5 to 16

1 Introduction
2 The aims of teaching history in schools
3 The objectives of teaching history in schools
4 The planning of history courses
5 Some principles of teaching and learning history
6 Implications for the assessment of history
7 History and other areas of the curriculum
Conclusion


[title page]

Department of Education and Science


History
from 5 to 16



Curriculum Matters 11
AN HMI SERIES


LONDON - HER MAJESTY'S STATIONERY OFFICE


[page ii (unnumbered)]

Crown copyright 1988
First published 1988
ISBN 0 11 270660 6





[page iii]

Contents
Page

Preface
iv

1 Introduction
1

2 The aims of teaching history in schools
3

3 The objectives of teaching history in schools
4

4 The planning of history courses
6

5 Some principles of teaching and learning history
19

6 Implications for the assessment of history
22

7 History and other areas of the curriculum
25

Conclusion
28




[page iv]

Preface

Since 1984 HM Inspectorate has published a number of Curriculum Matters papers designed to stimulate discussion about the curriculum as a whole and its component parts.

History from 5 to 16 is the eleventh in the series and sets out a framework within which schools might develop a programme for the teaching and learning of history. It focuses on the aims and objectives of history in primary and secondary schools. It considers the implications of these aims and objectives for the choice of content, for teaching approaches, for curricular organisation and for the assessment of pupils' progress.

This paper is addressed not only to heads and teachers but also to school governors, local education authority elected members and officers, parents, employers and the wider community outside the school. Like other earlier publications in the Curriculum Matters series, this is a discussion paper intended to stimulate a professional debate and to contribute to reaching national agreement about the objectives and content of the school curriculum. That debate will now take place within the arrangements for developing the National Curriculum contained in the Education Reform Act. The National Curriculum Council will have the task of taking forward the work of individual subject working groups in consultation with the education service to advise upon appropriate attainment targets at the ages 7, 11, 14 and 16 and upon associated programmes of study. The School Examinations and Assessment Council will advise on methods of assessing performance related to the attainment targets at these ages within a national system to be based upon the principles set out by the Task Group on Assessment and Testing.

It is essential that this document should be read as a whole, since all sections are interrelated. For example the lists of objectives must be seen in relation to the defined aims and to what is said about the principles of teaching and assessment.

If you have any comments please send them to the Staff Inspector for History, Department of Education and Science, York Road, London SE1 7PH, by 28 February 1989.


[page 1]

1 Introduction

1. In one commonly used sense 'history' means 'everything that has happened'. But the word also means, in another sense, our actual record of what has happened, necessarily less than the full story, but still extremely large and complex. This record is a body of knowledge, the content of history; our means of gathering, analysing and interpreting that record is the process of history. These two features of history are inseparable.

2. There are good reasons for studying history and these include the insights it gives in to the affairs of the modern world, the important skills it develops and its intrinsic interest. One of the main reasons, however, for offering a course in history to young people is that the school curriculum provides one of the fundamental ways in which a society transmits its cultural heritage to new generations; it is the main formal and systematic way our society has of doing so.

3. The concept of a 'heritage', however, is a complex and problematic one which has to be addressed in planning a history syllabus. Crucial questions have to be faced before setting about the design of a history syllabus. What kind of society is to be found in Britain? How did it come to be as it is? What have British people in common - and what is peculiar to particular people or groups of people? Much of our pupils' lives, as children and later as adults, will be conducted within a local community, a workplace, or at home with friends and relatives. These different levels of human experience have their own histories and are part of the broader heritage of our country, which is in turn part of wider global history.

4. History should give pupils not only the knowledge to make sense of the many heritages they inherit and which they will be offered, but also the skills with which to interpret their history critically. In this way they will be able to resist interpretations, whether consciously intended or not, which filter or distort the record of the past.

5. Through the history they learn at school pupils will need to employ some of the concepts by which historians organise their study of the past, concepts such as continuity and change which are frequently part of our everyday experience, speech and ways of perceiving the world.


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6. History syllabuses have also to engage closely with the issue of historical process. They have to offer answers to further questions. What is the nature of historical study? What are the essential skills of the historian? What cast of mind is necessary for the study of history and grows out of its pursuit? The process of history is inescapably concerned with seeking out and testing evidence, with searching always for the truth while having to be satisfied with its provisional, challengeable nature. Pupils need to have early and repeated experience of historical methodology, to learn about the relative strengths and weaknesses of a wide range of evidence - a set of skills which is particularly necessary in democratic societies and which has great value beyond the study of history.





[page 3]

2 The aims of teaching history in schools

7. The aims of history teaching are to enable pupils:

- to develop an interest in the past and an appreciation of human achievements and aspirations;
- to understand the values of our society;
- to learn about the major issues and events in the history of
their own country and of the world and how those events may have influenced one another;
- to develop a knowledge of chronology within which they can organise their understanding of the past;
- to understand how the past was different from the present and that people of other times and places may have had different values and attitudes from ours;
- to understand the nature of evidence by emphasising history as a process of enquiry and by developing the range of skills required to interpret primary and secondary source materials;
- to distinguish between historical facts and the interpretation of those facts;
- to look for explanations of change in terms of human intentions, beliefs and motives as well as of environmental factors;
- to understand that events have usually a multiplicity of causes and that historical explanation is provisional, always debatable and sometimes controversial;
- to encourage an understanding of the processes of change and continuity in human affairs and the recognition that change and progress are not necessarily the same;
- to develop insight, clearly based on historical evidence, in order to offer explanations of past events and to develop also an informed appreciation of the perspectives and motives of people in the past;
- to contribute to personal and social education by developing certain attitudes and values: for example a respect for evidence; and toleration of a range of opinions;
- to communicate clearly, employing a wide range of media.


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3 The objectives of teaching history in schools

8. In order to fulfil the aims of teaching history certain objectives need to be met by given stages; these are cumulative, each stage embodies and deepens the previous levels of attainment.

9. By the age of 7 pupils should be able to:

  • begin to understand that they themselves live in and are part of a country, a community and a world with their own heritages and histories;
  • develop an understanding of their own and their families' past;
  • begin to understand the concepts of 'past', 'present' and 'future';
  • understand that evidence of the past comes in many forms;
  • put objects or pictures with historical features in a sequence of 'before' or 'after' and to give reasons for doing so;
  • demonstrate that they know about some major and vivid events of the past;
  • begin to distinguish between myths and legends about the past, and real events and real people;
  • use basic vocabulary related to time such as: 'now', 'long ago', 'before', 'after';
  • use imagination and evidence to describe life in past times;
  • talk and to begin to write clearly about these matters.
By the age of 11 pupils should be able to:
  • demonstrate that they know of some major events of British and world history within a broad chronological structure;
  • demonstrate that they have some understanding of the development of British society, and other societies, over long periods; illuminated by studies of shorter periods in greater depth;
  • demonstrate that they appreciate the breadth and richness of history, for example by drawing attention to the technological, scientific and aesthetic achievements of the past as well as social and political developments;

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  • develop an understanding of the history of their immediate locality and to relate this to wider themes;
  • appreciate that different societies have held different beliefs, values and attitudes at different times and that the beliefs, values and attitudes of people in modern Britain have grown out of their past experiences;
  • understand that evidence of the past may be interpreted in different ways;
  • use chronological conventions (such as BC, AD, century) appropriately;
  • make use of primary and secondary sources to support interpretations of historical events;
  • make imaginative reconstructions of past situations which are in accord with available evidence;
  • make simple causal connections especially those involving historical characters and their actions;
  • recognise similarities and differences between the past and the present day.
By the age of 16 pupils should have studied history in such a way as to enable them to:
  • have acquired a firm and clear chronological framework within which to place and relate new information;
  • ask a broad range of historical questions (see paragraphs 33-36);
  • be aware of varied and often conflicting interpretations of past events;
  • understand the broad fundamental concepts common to all historical explanations and also a range of more specific ones;
  • relate events to a broad approach to history which involves not only local, national, European and world issues but also covers major political, cultural, scientific and technological developments;
  • gain insight into processes of social and economic change, particularly with relation to British history, and of the influence of individual men and women on these changes;
  • develop an awareness of the special and also the common qualities, aspirations and achievements of a range of societies through time.


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4 The planning of history courses

10. Any history course is necessarily selective in its content and in the view of the past which it intends to offer young people. The choice of content is crucial since the selection of any material will, by implication, affirm some events, people, achievements and values while denying or playing down others. This consideration is of paramount importance when teachers set about constructing history syllabuses. In the light of the profound changes that are taking place in British and other societies, history teachers need to consider peace and war, religion, law and order, science and technology, and the struggle for basic freedoms and a dignified life. The content of history courses has to be continually re-assessed and recast. Some features of our past endure over long periods, others are more ephemeral, yet others lie dormant and are suddenly invested with significance as our perceptions change as to what is important in our lives. History courses should nowadays pay greater attention than was formerly the case to the position of minority groups and the role of women in history, and to developments in given regions of the world, for example the Near East.

The selection of content

11. A number of criteria should be borne in mind when selecting the content of history courses.

a Breadth

School history often dwells on familiar aspects of British or local history (see 11e and 11h) relatively more heavily than on other fields. Nevertheless history is concerned with the experiences of all people, at all times. It is not confined to political, diplomatic or military events, nor to the experiences of governing groups and elites. Content should therefore embrace not only political and public affairs, but also economic, social, religious, cultural, scientific and technological developments. If possible these elements should be inter-related, for example by exploring the effects of technology on war or medicine; or the connection between the growth of religious, ideological and political freedom. To this end it will be helpful for pupils to study a particular period, or part of it, in depth. At other times the development of historical understanding will require longer sweeps which relate events across broader spans of time.


[page 7]

Syllabuses need to respect both forms of historical insight. The process of balancing and relating the different aspects of history has to be carried out within the strict rations of time available for the subject, and therefore requires the careful establishment of priorities.

b The development of concepts

Content should be selected so as to illuminate concepts and to deepen pupils' understanding of them. Some of these concepts such as change and continuity, sequence and causation are broad and fundamental but they are too abstract to support a detailed syllabus. To develop understanding of such general concepts course content will need to include some topics which demonstrate specific long-term chains of cause and effect, as for example in transport, building or medical science. Pupils also need to understand the often dramatic causes and effects of relatively intense and shorter-term developments such as the Spanish conquest of Mexico or the French Revolution. These and other concepts such as 'feudalism' or 'Renaissance' are more tightly focused and are more specific to particular places and periods. The publication History in the Primary and Secondary Years: An HMI View (HMSO, 1985) suggests a list of general and specific concepts.

c The development of historical understanding

There are three important facets of historical understanding which pupils need to develop as a result of the courses they undertake:

(i) they should be helped to develop 'a sense of time' which enables them to put historical events in the correct order, to acquire and employ an historical perspective and to avoid anachronism;

(ii) they should become increasingly familiar with the terms employed to explain the past or with terms inherited from the past which we have to understand in order to gain insight into it;

(iii) they need to be able to reconstruct historical situations from the viewpoints of people living at the time if they are to make informed judgements about why people took, or did not take, particular courses of action. Such reconstructions must be based on evidence - they should not be uncontrolled flights of imagination.


[page 8]

d The development of skills

Content should also be chosen to provide pupils with opportunities to develop and practise skills - not only those specific to history but also skills with a more general application. By developing and employing such skills pupils are much more likely to enjoy and understand history than if they are only recipients of information.

Historians employ a range of skills which help to define their discipline:

(i) using and analysing a range of source materials. Pupils should be helped to analyse both primary evidence and secondary accounts and to detect, in particular, omissions, the personal standpoints of past writers and the use of emotive or figurative language;
(ii) posing and answering historical questions;
(iii) sequencing events.
In addition history courses can help develop a range of more general skills including:
(i) locating information from a range of sources;
(ii) observing, listening and recording;
(iii) communicating in a variety of forms;
(iv) analysing and synthesising information;
(v) posing and testing hypotheses;
(vi) recalling information.
e The British dimension

Children should become well acquainted with British history (including the particular history of the part of Britain in which they live). But just as British history cannot be understood if it has nothing to say about Europe and the world, so also it is seriously limited if it is confined to the history of England or Wales, and fails to take into proper account the histories of Scotland and Ireland. There should be no attempt to cover all British history but any selection made should include local history, the origins and historical developments of the British peoples up to the present day (with their religious, cultural and ethnic variety), the development of their institutions (in


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particular of parliamentary democracy) and the major changes in British political, economic and social life. Courses should also help young people to understand the part played by British people in other parts of the world as well as the influence of Europe and the wider world on the development of Britain.

f Contemporary themes in an historical context

The content of a history course should put important features of the contemporary world into an historical context. To meet this criterion there should be work which deals with, for example, the development of industrial, urban societies; the effects on people of science and technology; the development of democracies and of threats to them; the recognition of long-standing ethnic diversity in Britain; the changing status and contribution of women; the development of greater European unity; and the development of an economically interdependent world.

g History of other peoples

Courses should give pupils some understanding of the main developments in European and world history of which British history forms a part. The selection of content should also ensure that pupils gain some understanding of peoples with different experiences and achievements from those of Britain including peoples not only from Western Europe and North America but also, for example, from Africa, the Near East, Asia or Latin America. Themes selected to introduce young people to aspects of world history, of their broader human 'heritage', need setting in especially clear structures, given the potentially bewildering richness of the subject matter. Content could, for example, be chosen to illustrate some of the themes suggested elsewhere in this section. It should make clear the common and contrasting experiences of a range of civilisations, the growing interdependence of societies and some major episodes and trends in European and world history such as the flourishing of culture in ancient Greece; the rise of Islam and the achievements of the Arabs; or the development of the American West.

h The location of the school

Local history is valuable not only in its own right but also as a source of inspiration and evidence, especially when it throws light on national and world developments. It is a sensible and


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practical starting point in the study of history by young children, and it can deepen the historical understanding of older pupils.

The organisation of content

12. Every syllabus which supports a course of history should respect chronology. By the end of the course, whether it is in a primary school or a secondary school, pupils should have a good grasp of chronology. They should have mastered the chronological conventions appropriate for their age group and by the end of their secondary education should have acquired a firm and clear overview of history. This proposition applies to all curricular arrangements, whether history is being offered as a course in its own right, or whether it is a contributory element in a series of topics, in a modular course, or in a broad humanities course. Although a course should respect chronology and seek to develop an understanding of it, there is no necessity for it to follow a chronological plan strictly and at all times. There are good reasons for arranging 'time travel' at particular points in a course of history; to move backwards or to skip spans of time when it is appropriate to do so. It is, for example, sensible for very young pupils to begin their study of history with the local and familiar, with stories about their own lives and about the times of older people well-known to them such as their parents or grandparents. This need not prevent teachers introducing these pupils to stories of people who lived in remoter times. The wisest approach is to design courses which are broadly, and over the long run, chronological, but which move about within that framework easily and sensibly. A knowledge of chronology and of some of the main episodes, developments and epochs by which it is understood should be an outcome of the study of history; it does not have to characterise the sequence and relationships of all lessons.

13. There are serious risks inherent in ignoring chronology: pupils can become confused, they can develop anachronistic impressions, and they can fail to appreciate the relationships of cause and effect. 'Time travel' can be taken when teachers are sure that their pupils have acquired a good chronological sense aided, for example, by the construction of 'time line' diagrams and by carefully and systematically locating all events in their correct places on them.


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14. A major problem arising from the need to respect chronology is that a chronological order, particularly if it is too strict, tends to set the point in their schooling when pupils learn about given topics of history. The difficulties which arise from linking given episodes or eras to given age groups can be mitigated by planned, intentional recapitulation; the repetition of given topics would be less of a problem if the development of the skills, concepts and insights associated with the study of history were planned systematically and if such plans were known and shared by different schools. This is particularly the case when most of the pupils from one primary school move on to a given secondary school. The National Curriculum offers an important way forward in this matter.

15. If pupils are to have a broad view of correctly sequenced historical events by the end of their course, it is essential that the syllabus should have a clear set of intentions regarding content which respects this general aim. There is a range of possible syllabus structures which might bring about this outcome - some examples are outlined in the publication History in the Primary and Secondary Years: An HMI View. These syllabuses should help young people to acquire a broad overview of history, but they should also embody and respect the other criteria which have been suggested for the selection of historical content.

16. The list which follows draws upon these various elements and attempts to bring them together. It needs to be approached with caution, however. It is a list of outcomes, not a step-by-step syllabus arranged term by term, particularly in the case of very young pupils who often begin to develop a sense of history by working back from their immediate and familiar present for one or two generations. The list suggests a body of content which might help to shape a syllabus. By outlining some major themes, and the principal subordinate topics which might support them, it offers only a basis which needs much more detailed refinement. For all its familiarity and clarity the list of outcomes presents hazards since, unless considerably expanded, particularly with regard to the development of concepts and skills, it could confine pupils' historical experience to the acquisition of unrelated facts.


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Some outcomes of a course of history, 5-16

By 16 pupils should know of:

Early civilisation: hunter-gatherer societies, the discovery of fire and the development of agriculture;

Mesopotamia and Egypt: irrigation, the development of writing, the religion and technical achievements of Egypt at the time of the pharaohs;

Greece and Rome: the culture and technical achievements of the classical world, Roman military conquests;

The fall of Rome, and the 'dark ages' in Europe: the great migrations, different societies in Britain, the flourishing of Celtic civilisation in Britain and Ireland, Anglo-Saxon England, the Vikings; the development of Islam and the achievements of the Arabs;

The Norman Conquest: effects on English and Welsh society and culture, the Norman settlement;

The Middle Ages: feudal society in Europe; England and her British neighbours and their relationships, religion and the crusades, peasant life, the contemporary civilisation of Japan and China, the Mongol conquests, medieval technology, printing;

The early modern period: the Renaissance, and the flowering of art and literature, the Reformation, Tudor times, voyages of the explorers, European encounters with other cultures - the Aztecs of Mexico, and the Incas of Peru, Benin, the Indian sub-continent; the power of Spain and the defeat of the Armada, politics, society and 'everyday life' in Tudor times, the 'expansion' of England and its effects on Wales and Ireland;

The Civil War and Revolution in England, Scotland and Wales and Ireland: the development of parliament, the development of civil and religious liberties, the beginnings of modern science;

Eighteenth-century Britain: the union of England and Scotland, the Jacobites, the slave trade, Britain as a trading nation, Methodism, the growth of colonies;

The American Revolution and the rise of the USA;

The French Revolution and the Napoleonic Wars;


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The first industrial revolution in Britain: changes in agriculture, the rapid growth in population, the new technology and Britain as the first industrial and urban country, internal migration, the growth of the working class, the factory system;

Victorian Britain: the 'workshop of the world', developments in welfare legislation and public health, railways and engineering: Chartism, imperialism, emigration and immigration, religion and belief, Victorian literature, art, architecture, and science;

Nationalism and the rivalry of the empires, the arms race, Edwardian Britain, the radical liberals, the women's movement and the suffragettes, militant trade unionism, Irish nationalism, the outbreak and course of the Great War, the development of modern science and technology in peace and war and their effects throughout the world;

The Russian Revolution: the victory of the Bolsheviks and the rise of the USSR;

The Twenties and the Great Depression: society, culture and the economy between the wars;

The Second World War;

The world after 1945: the superpowers, high technology societies, the welfare state, the Commonwealth, Britain as a multi-ethnic society, the accelerated development of the world economy, the 'third world'.

17. There are many ways in which such a list can be amplified so as to inform and illuminate the bare details of each era noted here by embodying the considerations outlined in paragraph 11.

Two examples may illustrate this:

Greece and Rome

- Pupils should be offered a broad view of classical history which features not only the political and military achievements of the Greeks and Romans, but also their cultural and technological attainments, their religions and mythologies, and the ways of life experienced by the broad mass of people. The dependence of Greece and Rome on preceding and on other contemporary civilisations should be made clear. A study of


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classical civilisations ought to clarify the concept of change not only over long periods, from the foundation of Rome to the Germanic invasions, but also in the short term as in the turmoil surrounding the death of Julius Caesar. Skills related to studying and comparing primary source materials can be developed through the use of artefacts, literature, buildings, landscape and place-names; good quality secondary sources are also available for this purpose.

- The effects of classical civilisation on our own lives can be made clear, including settlement patterns and some features of the English language, and of our political and religious beliefs. Courses should make contrasts with our era which emphasise the nature of very long-term change, for example Greek and Roman attitudes to slavery; and the perception of Rome as a multi-ethnic empire, but one which displayed very different attitudes to citizenship when compared with ours. Pupils can also learn about the relatively closed nature of the classical world - its lack of knowledge of the wider world and of the achievements of the contemporary Chinese or American civilisations. Nearer to home, some aspects of local history and the use of museum collections could supply evidence of Britain as a Roman province, and pupils can learn about the extent to which the native British absorbed, yielded to and resisted the culture of Rome.

The industrial revolution in Britain

- Taking a broad view of history, pupils should see the industrial revolution as a whole, as a transformation of British society from its largely agricultural and rural form to a densely populated, urban and industrial one - within a period of about a century. This dramatic medium-term change can be contrasted as a concept with some longer-term economic changes such as the development of agricultural from hunter-gatherer societies, or shorter-term changes such as those occurring during the canal or railway 'manias'. The broad relationships of cause and effect involving industry, science, technology, politics, social development and the quality of human life should be made clear. Some of the concepts illustrated by the industrial revolution are more specific to this period: urbanisation; the creation of a working class; the factory system, etc. Because the industrial revolution was so well and vividly recorded in primary sources it provides one of the finest


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fields for the development of historical skills. The sources are of many kinds: memoirs, reports, commentaries, pictures - including photographs - buildings, canals, railways, docks, and numerous artefacts inside and outside museums. The literature of authors such as Dickens and Disraeli supplies a further and important source of evidence; arguments about the supposed benefits and evils of industrialisation can be found in many good secondary sources which pupils should be encouraged to read.

- The effects of the industrial revolution on our present-day lives, and those of people in many other countries which have subsequently industrialised, should be studied. These include, for example, the effects of industrialisation on the nature of the family and the role of women; its effects on human migration into Britain, away from it and within it; the spur given to religious and political life and to the development of democracy; the promise of a better life for many people offered by industrialism; but also the threats to that life posed by ecological imbalances and by the squalor and brutality of early industrial conditions. Pupils may be encouraged to speculate as to why, with its historic lead in the process of industrialisation, Great Britain started to lag seriously behind its competitors. Nevertheless, the treatment of the industrial revolution should make clear that it was initially a British development and that it took place as much on Clydeside and in South Wales as it did in Lancashire or Shropshire. At the same time it is important to avoid cultural chauvinism: technology, upon which the industrial revolution depended heavily, is a cumulative human achievement and this should be made clear whenever appropriate, as should the dependence of Britain on overseas markets and sources of supply. Pupils should be led to understand the vital importance of trade, then and now, to the quality of British life. Because of the all-pervasive nature of the industrial revolution and its global effects, it supplies excellent opportunities for local history. This can be used to demonstrate not only the widely differing effects of industrialism in different parts of Britain but also how local history can be readily related to national and world history .

These two examples offer a brief guide to ways in which the framework outlined in paragraph 16 needs to be filled so as to embody the broader needs both of the course in history and of the school curriculum. In practical terms, teachers need to


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ensure that a history syllabus offers not only a broad course in the subject, but also one which can reinforce the work of other subjects.

18. This section has attempted to demonstrate how a course of history could be broad and relevant to the needs of society and pupils. Nevertheless, with so many considerations to bear in mind teachers may very properly become concerned whether the overall balance of their course is being maintained and that it is not becoming unduly skewed in order to meet one set of aims rather than another, or that it fails to connect concrete examples of the long-term themes which underlie the syllabus.

Continuity and progression

19. The design of history syllabuses presents problems regarding continuity of courses of study, especially at points of transfer. A related issue is that for about half the nation's children the study of history currently ceases at the age of 14 because of the 'options system' prevailing in many secondary schools, a problem which the National Curriculum is intended to solve.

20. Wherever possible teachers in primary, middle and secondary schools should come together and plan for continuity in history courses so as to mitigate the effects of the institutional break at the age of 11 (or at whatever age the interruption comes). This kind of activity is another which will be encouraged by the programmes of study and their related attainment targets arising out of the National Curriculum.

21. Schools can approach the issue of continuity in content in a number of ways:

a) by sharing the same chronological framework such as that suggested in paragraph 16 so that earlier periods are covered in primary schools (while still respecting their need to offer local and more modern history to young children) and later periods are covered in the secondary schools which they feed. As a necessary part of this strategy systematic recapitulation would be required so that older pupils would, for example, return to consider classical civilisation when they had acquired a firm chronological framework; and a stronger grasp of skills and concepts;


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b) by accepting a limited amount of repetition and yet trying to take advantage of it. For example, at different ages pupils might study different aspects of the Vikings' achievements, or a given focus on Viking life at the primary stage might be complemented at the secondary stage by the use of the Vikings to exemplify broader or deeper historical issues. By returning to given periods in this way, pupils can build up a picture of the past which is of greater depth and complexity, as they grow older;

c) by primary schools' concentrating on some broad lines of development (for example travel, work or settlement), placing these themes in a chronological framework and so laying foundations for secondary school history by drawing attention to some of the main events and developments to be dealt with there. Careful reference to a chronological framework, very possibly a 'time-line', would be necessary in such cases;

d) by adapting a history course spanning primary and early secondary years (ages 8-14) resting on a skills-based framework, cross-related to a chronologically framed body of content as found in History in the Primary and Secondary Years: An HMI View.

22. Progression in history courses is essential. Work undertaken ought to make increasing intellectual demands on pupils as they grow older. The skills being developed need to become more refilled and demanding, the concepts less concrete, and the content (and the relationships between given items of content) more complex. A table suggesting increasing levels of refinement in historical understanding can also be found in the publication cited in the preceding paragraph.

23. The abrupt conclusion to the historical education of many pupils at the age of 14 has a number of deleterious effects: courses can end 'in the air' at 1688 (the 'Glorious Revolution'), at 1815 (the end of the Napoleonic Wars) or 1914 (the outbreak of the Great War) - dates which themselves suggest a rather partial view of the nature of history. The need to cover so much material by the age of 14 often causes a congestion of content and - possibly most serious of all - pupils can be denied experience of history at the point when they are maturing and nearing adult citizenship. The position of history as a


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foundation subject in the National Curriculum for all pupils 5-16 will do much to alleviate these problems.

Schemes of work

24. The teaching and learning of history needs to rest on clear schemes of work. These should cover and make cross-references between the following:

- the aims of the course;
- its objectives: derived from the aims and specified in terms of knowledge, understanding, intellectual and other skills, and attitudes;
- content: detailing the main areas to be covered in which order, and for which age groups; the principal events or developments to be learned and the long-term themes to be exemplified by the study of any period; the concepts to be grasped by pupils, and at what stages in the course;
- teaching approaches and methods, paying particular attention to those which will ensure continuity of experience and progression;
- resources;
- assessment.
History and humanities syllabuses

25. One way in which some schools try to meet the curricular problems caused by the overlap, repetition and overcrowding of subjects, as well as by the gaps they can leave, is the adoption of 'humanities' schemes which relate history and geography (and occasionally other subjects) in various ways. These schemes are not uncommon in primary schools and in the early secondary years, and they are growing in popularity in years 4 and 5. With older pupils they offer the additional attraction of building some economics and social science into every pupil's curricular experience.

26. There are many arguments for and against these strategies. From the standpoint of the contributory subjects some important abiding principles need to be kept in sight by


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teachers. Although supportive of each other, history, geography and the social sciences do not necessarily mesh together easily and logically in topic-based, modular or integrated schemes of work. Good schemes require intensive and careful planning to bring about their intended outcomes, particularly if they are to ensure clear progression, stage by stage. When they are properly devised and monitored they may help pupils to recognise the relationships between history and other disciplines.

27. The 'heartlands' of history and other subjects, their unique qualities, need to be protected if it is claimed that 'humanities' schemes are a way of offering the essence of history, geography (and other subjects) in new and effective ways. The heartlands consist of the essential areas of substantive knowledge, the skills and the concepts which define the subjects.

28. This publication neither advocates nor dismisses 'humanities' schemes. They may be a helpful way to provide broad, balanced courses. They may also present the opportunity of offering history to all pupils up to the age of 16. But teachers need to be sure that any 'history' offered on such schemes is indeed history as normally defined and described in terms of the knowledge, skills, concepts and attitudes referred to in this publication, and that it will also be able to meet the attainment targets and the requirements of the programmes of study embodied in the National Curriculum.


5 Some principles of teaching and learning history

29. Story and narrative are central to history teaching. They are a natural way in which sequence, causation and change can be explored and, for younger pupils in particular, they can provide a vehicle for developing language, a chronological sense, environmental understanding, and for stimulating a range of work in art, craft, music and drama. There is an important and central place in history for 'good stories, well told', for narrative offered by teachers, and by pupils - and for pupils being taught to listen carefully and critically.


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30. A major concern of the subject is with evidence of human affairs and its interpretation. The teaching of history should seek to develop the particular attitude towards evidence which characterises historians. History teaching both in primary and secondary schools must constantly cause pupils to ask: 'how do we know?' and should give pupils the experience of working with varied forms of source materials: documents, maps, artefacts, oral testimony, videos - everything from 'flints to film', and (since one textbook account will not be sufficient) with a number of secondary interpretations.

31. Although history will not always be taught and learned in chronological sequence, pupils at all ages will need to have access to some kind of time-chart so that past events can be placed in correct sequence, and their relative distance from the present identified.

32. History is strongly rooted in written and spoken language, but information technology (IT) is a useful tool for the historian. When used it should be employed as historians need it: to store, retrieve and analyse information, for word processing and, under carefully controlled conditions which respect evidence, in historical simulations. Teachers should be on their guard against uses of IT which, while posing problems ostensibly set in past times, do not really stimulate pupils to ask historical questions or to think about historical issues.

33. Teaching should also encourage pupils to ask historical questions regularly and as a matter of course. For example, pupils might ask, in general terms, of a particular period:

- where, why and how did people settle and live? How many of them were there? (Migration, settlement, housing and population)
- how did the people of the time feed and clothe themselves? (Agriculture, manufacture and trade)
- what was the available technology? (Industry, transport, weapons, communications)
- what was their art, music and literature? (Cultural and aesthetic life)
- what differences and similarities are there between then and now, or between different civilisations of the same period?

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34. Other fundamental historical questions which pupils should be encouraged to ask of a period include those concerned with the ways people kept themselves alive and well; their social groupings; their lifestyles, ideas, values and beliefs; and their form of government - who governed whom, and how?

35. There are, in turn, more sharply focused questions which might relate to given, specific events, such as asking what happened, why and when it happened; and what were its immediate and long-term causes and outcomes.

36. An important set of historical questions implicit in all of the others relates to how people perceived whatever it is being studied at the time it occurred, and how we now perceive it, questions which remind pupils of the difficulties of establishing objective truth in history. If handled carefully, such questions will help pupils to understand that the standpoints of people in the past were no less valid in their time than those prevailing today, and that some values endure, while others do not.

37. Pupils should be encouraged to let their imaginations work on evidence, while respecting it scrupulously. They should be able to offer hypothetical explanations of past events, supported by carefully reasoned proof, and to test them by comparing sources, by discussion and argument. They should have some informed appreciation of the points of view of people living in the past when the evidence makes this possible.

38. History lends itself to, and benefits from, a wide range of teaching and learning modes. These include whole-class teaching when new or complex material is introduced; group work for the discussion of problems or their cooperative solution; seminar and debating styles of work; fieldwork; the pursuit of individual tasks, and games and simulations - where these are based on good historical evidence.

39. Through effective history teaching pupils should not only gain a good knowledge of history, but also acquire the insights and 'cast of mind' of the historian, and enjoy the range of tasks involved in attaining these ends.


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6 Implications for the assessment of history

40. Assessment is an integral part of the process of teaching and learning. In some form it should be a part of every history lesson. The teacher's questions and the pupils' responses provide an important means of gauging historical understanding, diagnosing strengths and weaknesses, and determining the extent of progress in learning. Many of the skills and understandings outlined in this publication can be assessed in this way. This informal day-to-day assessment ought to be as demanding and as informative as the more formal modes which should complement it.

41. Assessment practices which are directed towards improving pupils' performance need to identify lines of progression - to establish increasingly demanding tasks on the basis of which judgements can be made. As an example, knowledge and understanding of chronology can be identified progressively as:

- ability to use the vocabulary of time ('before', 'after', 'long ago', etc) and to put a given set of pictures or artefacts in the correct chronological sequence;
- knowledge and application of relevant terminology and conventions ('century', AD, BC, etc), and an awareness of the way in which historians divide the past into periods ('middle ages', 'modern', etc);
- knowledge of a broad chronological sequence;
- ability to use a broad and detailed chronological framework;
- ability to operate within a framework of time which contains a number of contemporary civilisations.
Within a broad progression such as this, setting tasks for either formal or informal assessment requires consideration of a number of factors which are discussed immediately below.

Focusing assessment precisely

42. A knowledge and understanding of past events, when they occurred and what might have been their causes and consequences, is certainly a necessary part of understanding


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history. But closely linked to a growing understanding of events of the past should be an increasing mastery of historical skills. These are inter-dependent activities which ought to develop together. Activities which, for example, require pupils to evaluate some source of evidence in the light of its historical setting or to link past events in a pattern of cause and effect are designed to assess their grasp of both the content and skills of history.

43. Often, however, and especially where the purpose is to identify a pupil's individual strengths or weaknesses, assessment may quite properly focus upon only some particular aspects of understanding - specific knowledge of an event, for example, or the ability to employ analytical skills. The more precisely focused assessment can be, the more likely it is to prove helpful. Testing for knowledge of content generally presents fewer difficulties in this respect; skills, however, may require considerable clarification and 'unpacking', a breaking down into specific categories in order for assessment to be sufficiently focused. Questions which, for instance, have as their overall aim the interpretation of written sources might have such specific objectives as: the ability to extract relevant information; to make inferences about the events described; to assess the possible intentions of the author; or to cross-refer between more than one source of evidence; and to evaluate the quality of the source as historical evidence.

Appropriate assessment

44. The questions asked of pupils should be designed to bring about responses which genuinely reflect specific objectives. Questions about why historical events occurred ought to be framed in such a way as to enable pupils to show how far they have acquired insight into cause and human motivation. Such questions should not be capable of being answered only by the recall of information, essential as this skill is. Similarly, they should be couched in language and in a form which pupils can readily understand and which encourages them to demonstrate what they know, understand and can do. For example, to ask pupils 'Why did William come to England in 1066?' is more comprehensible than asking them to 'assess and analyse the personal motives and underlying causes of the Norman invasion of 1066'. Pupils may be able to demonstrate orally skills and understanding that they are not able to show in a written


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exercise; or to convey ideas through practical work which do not emerge in other forms of activity. Given careful preparation, structure and briefing, higher-order thinking often results from collaborative group work - but assessment is usually limited to individual, written responses. Assessments which are not so confined need not be difficult to devise or administer, and may playa valuable role in improving pupils' performance.

Establishing criteria for assessment

45. Grades, marks or comments on pupils' responses should communicate what has been achieved in as helpful a way as possible. When the purpose of assessment is to measure and improve everyday classwork, it should be concerned with performance related to specific criteria, rather than to the performance of other pupils in the class. For example, pupils' responses to a question as to whether the reliability of two conflicting accounts of an event can be determined by studying a contemporary painting might be assessed by such criteria as: identifying ways in which the painting and other accounts do and do not agree; the weight given to these features; consideration of the necessarily impressionistic nature of a picture - and so on. The problems of establishing appropriate criteria of this kind are complex, particularly where questioning is open and encourages speculation and analysis.

Measuring different levels of performance

46. Only part of assessment should be concerned with questions to which there is one 'correct' answer - the date of the battle of El Alamein, the number of Luther's theses, the identity of the person in the photograph - important and necessary as this skill is in context. Judging the merit of answers to historical questions should more usually be concerned with the issue of context, with deciding how effectively a skill has been exercised, a problem analysed or an argument supported. It is concerned also with identifying positive achievement, rather than with measuring by how far it falls short of some predetermined model answer. It is assessment which seeks to establish levels, or degrees, of success in pupils' responses.

47. Determining levels which take account of progression in pupils' knowledge and understanding is problematic. This is because of the profound and complicated relationships involved in the nature of history and the capabilities of pupils. There may


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be quite properly differing views about the way in which levels of achievement should be ordered, whether one level does indeed represent a more developed stage than its predecessor.

48. In addition pupils may reveal insights and levels of speculative thought which are not anticipated by teachers and which cannot be adequately recognised by grading or marking schemes too precisely defined beforehand. Ideally, marking schemes based on identifying levels of achievement should, while ensuring consistency of standards, be subject to adjustment in the light of the actual responses provoked. They should be sufficiently open to allow for and to reward unanticipated originality or historical imagination. Although mastering a skill or concept usually involves steps of increasing difficulty, pupils can leapfrog, sometimes quite unpredictably, the intermediate processes so as to demonstrate historical understanding or competence of an advanced kind.


7 History and other areas of the curriculum

49. History is well placed to enrich the school curriculum, and to prepare young people for life in contemporary society. It can contribute for example to developing economic understanding in that a great deal of history is concerned with material questions of production, trade, the generation and distribution of wealth and the social consequences of these activities. History has traditionally been, and remains, one of the main sources of political and civic education. It should help pupils to learn about the development of our major political institutions (parliament, the monarchy, central and local government and the political parties) and practices (the franchise, pressure groups and free speech, for example). Pupils also need to know of the major past and recent political issues over which people have disagreed, and they should acquire the political skills and attitudes upon which democracy is based, such as debate and toleration. A well-conceived course of history should not only pay scrupulous attention to objectivity and avoid political bias - it will, by its very nature, give young people the means to identify and resist indoctrination.


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50. History has a particularly important role to play in preparing pupils to participate in a multi-ethnic society. There are some suggestions elsewhere in this document as to the kinds of skills, concepts, attitudes and substantive knowledge which are likely to counter ethnic stereotyping. The multi-ethnic nature of British society is a further reason why those people responsible for designing history courses need to be sensitive about the choice of course content. Similar considerations apply also to gender; history courses should ensure that women are not 'invisible', that their changing social roles are made clear and that interpretations of the past which demean or obscure their experiences are avoided.

51. Health education is another cross-curricular area where history can play a part. A study of the development of medical practice and public health initiatives can help young people to see that in medicine, as in democracy, the efforts and struggles of the past are embodied in arrangements which can all too easily be taken for granted if their historical perspective is missing. The study of the history of public health will also provide interesting insights into the assumptions, beliefs and organisation of societies in other places, at other times.

52. The Curriculum from 5 to 16: Curriculum Matters 2 lists nine areas of learning and experience. These areas have strong connections with history but, without systematic planning, history will neither be able to assist in their development nor be able to draw on them. In relation to the aesthetic and creative area pupils can appreciate that the immense store of artistic achievement which gives us insights into past societies is part of our common heritage and expresses many of the highest and finest feelings of humanity. History is centrally concerned with the human and social area because it is essentially concerned with people, either as identifiable individuals or as people in groups of varying sizes, from families to states, nations and beyond.

53. There are many connections between history and the linguistic and literary area; since history is largely a social activity it is essential that pupils can read, write, listen and talk clearly if they are to study it. History lessons should strengthen these skills according to a definite strategy. Story and narrative provide, for younger pupils in particular, effective vehicles for developing language. The use of history provides many


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opportunities for pupils to learn to adjust their style of talk or writing, for example to express degrees of uncertainty or of tentativeness about historical judgements, and to express approval or disapprobation, or irony. Pupils also need to make sense of a wide variety of styles employed by writers and speakers, past and present. In analysing documents from the past pupils need to compare conflicting sources of evidence, to detect loaded or incomplete evidence, and to distinguish rhetoric from substance. They also need to understand that not all words are 'neutral' in history: a given person can be a rebel, martyr, hero or villain depending on the standpoint of the commentator. Language has its own history; the origins of words, idioms and place-names provide interesting material for study. Literature is another invaluable source of evidence of the past, as is historical fiction, if properly used.

54. History should be involved with the mathematical area in that many historical events or developments cannot be fully understood unless specific aspects are quantified: for example how many ships were there in the Spanish Armada? How swiftly did the population of England grow during the industrial revolution? What are the modern equivalents of former weights, measures and prices? Historians often employ statistical techniques to describe past trends, for example movements of populations, of prices, of rises and falls in trade; chronology depends on strict numbering sequences and particular usages: AD, BC, century, decade, etc. The development of mathematics is itself an important aspect of human history.

55. Because history is essentially concerned with human actions and intentions it inevitably involves the making of judgements about people's actions. It therefore contributes importantly to the moral and spiritual areas of learning. It also demonstrates that the concept of morality is common to all societies, albeit differently perceived and interpreted. It enables schools to affirm our society's own values and attitudes, and helps to make clear to pupils that a defining human characteristic is the continuing search for ultimate meanings and purposes.

56. The skills of careful observation and properly controlled speculation central to the scientific area of learning and experience can be reinforced by the study of history. Equally


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important, the content of history courses should also help pupils to understand the importance of science by describing its development over long periods and noting its influence on social change and development and the interplay between science and religious or secular beliefs. The same applies to the technological area. Many history courses already describe some of the historical roots and effects of technology. However, they rarely do this in such a way as to encourage young people to consider technology objectively, as an underlying element of civilisation with advantages and disadvantages. History enables us to assess the dynamic impact of technological change, including both its intended and unintended consequences and how societies respond to these. History should therefore focus particularly on those aspects of technology concerned with its human origins and its effects on humanity.


8 Conclusion

57. School history courses need to be evaluated regularly since history, in all its senses, is ever on the move. Teachers should undertake a systematic and regular 'stock-taking' of a given course. They should ask: is it reaching its objectives? Does reaching its objectives fulfil its main aims? Is there superfluous material which should be removed? Do new themes need to be adopted? Are the teaching methods, resources and assessment systems effective?

58. The study of history should be enjoyable in its own right and should lay the foundations not only for informed citizenship, but also for an enriched use of leisure time. A successful course in history ought to contribute towards the development of broadly-educated people who are effective in their various roles as citizens, parents and contributors to the common good.