History should be a compulsory school subject until the age of 16, a leading academic has claimed.
Sir David Cannadine, a professor of history at Princeton University, New Jersey, believes that failing to make pupils study history to GCSE level is causing Britain to fall behind Europe.
The author makes his claims in The Right Kind of History - a book outlining a series of recommendations about the teaching of history and its future.
In the book, Sir David writes that making history compulsory "would place our nation for the first time on an equal footing with most others in Europe, and it should also help ensure that history is studied for an appropriate amount of time in schools where it is at present hard-pressed".
"Making history compulsory to the age of 16 would also ensure that a fully integrated curriculum could be devised across Key Stages 3 and 4, which would lessen the likelihood of repetition, uncrowd the syllabus, and ensure all boys and girls were able to study history at a relatively advanced age."
The author also argues that the National Curriculum should not be revised, as the current curriculum for history is well-balanced and broad.
Sir David said: "Although governments cannot help but tinker with the National Curriculum, it is not the main problem and the solution does not lie in redesigning it yet again. I would urge the Secretary of State for Education to focus his attentions elsewhere."
This year more than five million GCSEs were taken. Of these, 218,588 (4.2%) were history, making it the eighth most popular subject, behind design and technology, religious studies, English language, English literature, maths, science and additional science.
In an attempt to turn around a fall in pupils studying traditional GCSEs such as history, in 2010 the Government introduced an English baccalaureate which is awarded to pupils who gain grades A*-C in English, maths, two sciences, a foreign language and history or geography.