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In Lessons from History: Freedom, Aspiration and the New Curriculum Robert Tombs argues that the school history curriculum as it currently stands fails pupils. In his pamphlet, he analyses the problems and proposes a new approach.
In the online appendices, three historian, Professor Tombs, Professor David Abulafia and Professor Jonathan Clark, each offer examplary curricular for history, to demonstrate how the principles in Lessons from History could be put into practice.
England’s school history is in a sorry state. Not only has it become a ‘minority’ subject at GCSE; but even among those who do choose it, too many leave school without a grasp of the sweep of their country’s past. So argue Robert Tombs and his co-authors in Lessons from History: Freedom, Aspiration and the New Curriculum.
The system fails to teach a broad range of British, or for that matter, European, history. The same few topics tend to be repeated over and over again. GCSE history demands too much specialization, with little attention paid to chronology or the context of change over time.
Pupils know little, and understand less, of the background to fundamental concepts. The exam system fails pupils by placing too much emphasis on ‘skills’ over knowledge, and a convoluted and erratic mark scheme often leaves candidates and teachers demoralised.
Magistrates have been at the heart of the justice system for over 600 years, dispensing justice at the local level and binding people to keep the peace. They do their work for free. The arrangement should be seen as a model for a 'big society' and the voluntary service which the Coalition seeks to promote.