History survey

Further to your report (8 April) on a speech in Canada by the education secretary, Michael Russell, new online materials for Scottish history in schools are to be welcomed, but, whatever its merits, Curriculum for Excellence (CfE) seems unlikely to end the patchy coverage of Scottish and other areas of history.

The guidelines on coverage and balance in CfE’s “Planning for the Scottish Dimension” do not recommend any particular number of topics to be covered.

This leaves history teachers open to pressure from hard-pressed headteachers – for staffing and time-tabling reasons – to cover as many of the required “experiences and outcomes” as possible within a very limited number of historical themes and/or cross-curricular topics, and increasingly as part of an integrated social subjects course sometimes taught by someone with little knowledge of or enthusiasm for history.

Hide Ad

In addition, CfE’s “experiences and outcomes” are imbalanced with seven general references to Scottish history and only four in total to wider British, European and world contexts.

A comprehensive chronological coverage of prescribed Scottish and other historical topics is neither possible nor desirable within the limited teaching time available, but clearer requirements are needed in terms of time and number of topics to achieve a more systematic coverage of Scottish historical periods within a balance of wider international contexts.

To this end, it would very useful if Learning Teaching Scotland was to conduct a survey of schools to establish exactly what history is currently being taught at primary and junior secondary.


Whitton Drive