A study by Ofsted found many secondary schools are condensing the curriculum, resulting in courses usually spread over three years being taught in two. The changes mean youngsters can give up some lessons to work on 'topics' rather than subject based timetables.
Ofsted's report on their findings states: 'In England, history is currently not compulsory for students beyond the age of 14 and those in schools offering a two-year Key Stage 3 (11-14-year-olds) course can stop studying history at the age of 13. England is unique in Europe in this respect. In almost all the countries of the European Union, it is compulsory to study history in some form in school until at least the ages of 15 or 16.'
The study, History For All, is based on inspections of history lessons in 83 primary and 83 secondary schools between April 2007 and March 2010.
Researchers found that in 14 of 58 secondary schools curriculum changes had a negative impact on the teaching of history:
'One of the most serious concerns about poor provision was the tendency for teachers to try to cover too much content and 'spoon-feed' students. As a result, teachers talked too much, lessons were rushed, opportunities for debate and reflection were missed, and students lost interest.'
Nick Gibb, the Schools Minister said the findings were 'worrying': 'It is worrying that Ofsted finds that many pupils lack a chronological understanding of history and are unable to make links between events. It is also a concern that secondary schools are squeezing history out of the curriculum or into general humanities courses.'
What do you think?
Should history be compulsory?
Or should children be choosing wider topics that are of interest to them?