Fewer Than a Quarter of UK Pupils Take History as GCSE

In a report that examines more than half of state secondary schools, less than a third of eligible pupils take History as a GCSE, writes Nick Collins at the Telegraph.

The report noted that over 150 comprehensives failed to enter a single pupil in GCSE history exams last year, with many seeing the subject as becoming marginalized as a vestige of private and grammar schools.

The figures suggest that pupils in areas in working class comprehensives are 46 times less likely to gain A-level history than more affluent places like Cambridge.

Ministers are increasingly concerned about the pupils' level of historical knowledge when they leave school, with academics believing that children in the UK today take more historical notes from Hollywood and video games rather than the classroom.

The report, produced by the Commons All-Party Group on History, showed that fewer than 30 per cent of 16 year old state school pupils took GCSE History exams last year.

Chris Skidmore, a Conservative MP and member of the group, will argue in the House of Commons this week that history should be made compulsory until the age of 16, removing the right for pupils to have the option of dropping it at the end of Key Stage Three when they are 14.

He said:

"These figures reveal that the study of history in schools beyond 14 is at an all-time low.

"Not only is an educational divide opening up between comprehensives and the independent and selective sector, there are now swathes of the country where history is becoming a forgotten subject."

It comes as an independent review of the national curriculum publishes evidence of how far standards in England have fallen behind other countries.

Ministers are planning an overhaul of educational goals which could include children being required to learn their times tables by the age of nine rather than 11, and study the work of Homer, Sophocles alongside the likes of John Steinbeck and Shakespeare.

"There has never been a more compelling moment to consider making history a compulsory subject to 16 in order to tackle this," said Skidmore.

12 22, 2011
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