Curriculum for Cohesion

The July 2013 Revised History Curriculum

On Monday 8 July 2013 the Department for Education responded to the submissions that it had received during the National Curriculum consultation process, including that of Curriculum for Cohesion.

Curriculum for Cohesion made a detailed response to this new draft.

In brief, the July draft was greatly improved and showed that the DfE had taken on board the key points that Curriculum for Cohesion and other stakeholders made in our responses to the February draft:

  1. The July draft was far less prescriptive for teachers. While everything set out in the February draft would have been mandatory, the July version comprised a high level structure in black text which is mandatory, and then proceeded to list a number of items in grey text that teachers may wish to teach but which would not be mandatory.  This structure, while sticking to a basic chronological approach, leaves scope for more interesting teaching that will prepare pupils for multi-cultural Britain, including of the material that Curriculum for Cohesion is developing.
  2. The July draft was much more age-appropriate. The absurdly abstract conceptual language at Key Stages 1 and 2 of the February draft had been made more age-appropriate and the detail of the suggested content at all the Key Stages was much more teachable and learnable. This will help pupils derive benefit from their history education.
  3. The July draft was more culturally inclusive including statutory mention of some history of Islamic civilisation.  For example, 10th century Baghdad and Mughal India were mentioned in statutory sections. However diversity was, in our opinion, still treated in a rather bolt-on and tokenistic way as separate world histories.  This is an antiquated approach which does not keep in touch with modern historiography.
  4. There was still plenty of room for improvement. More thought was needed as to how the national British history relates to the world history and how to create a ‘broader, truer history for all.’

    • At Key Stage 1. The list of grey, non-mandatory individuals was still too parochial and not representative of humanity’s different types of achievement. We suggested the inclusion of the pairing of the pioneers of medical science, Avicenna and Louis Pasteur. Doing so would illustrate the contribution of different cultures to shared knowledge in different periods whose benefit is enjoyed by all today.
    • At Key Stage 2. We suggested that Cordoba, c. AD800-1200 be added to Baghdad as an exemplar of early Islamic civilisation. This would link the study of early Islamic civilisation at Key Stage 2 coherently with the proposed study of the Renaissance in Key Stage 3 and provide an important counterpoint with ‘Dark Age’ Britain and northern Europe.
    • At Key Stage 3. In order to bring out the force of ‘interconnections’ in the unit title, we suggested that the Ottoman Empire, 1490-1922 be added as a world history option. Study of the Ottoman Empire is highly relevant to the study of Britain and Europe in both the early modern and modern periods. It would also consolidate and extend knowledge of the British Empire and it is essential for understanding developments in the contemporary Middle East.

For the convenience of readers, we have:

  1. Extracted the History pages from the Framework document, as a separate History document at this link.
  2. Our full response to the Draft can be found at this link.

The consultation response deadline closed on 8 August 2013. Afterwards the Department for Education published its final version of the History Curriculum that will be taught by English schools from September 2014. For the convenience of readers, we have copied the History pages at this link. The final version is essentially unchanged from the July 2013 version discussed above. Despite not taking on board the points we made in July, it is a great improvement on the draft issued in February 2013, and we consider that teachers will be perfectly capable of following the mandatory curriculum while teaching in the manner proposed by us.