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Publication date: Saturday 11th September 2010

Qualified History Teachers: A thing of the past?

The Historical Association publishes a major survey into the state of history teaching in English secondary schools today and reports some very worrying trends. A significant number of teachers report serious concerns that history is disappearing in their schools, with senior managers assuming that the study of the past has no value in its own right.

  • 60% of history teachers concerned by the growth of non-specialist teaching in Key Stage 3
  • 25% of academies merge history into other subjects to teach generic skills
  • And grammar schools and comprehensives report similar trends.  

Non-specialist teaching in history - i.e. teaching from those with no training in the subject and often with no qualification higher than a GCSE - is becoming increasingly common, particularly in Year 7 (11-12 year olds), but also throughout Key Stage 3. That means lessons tend to focus on skills not knowledge.

The schools leading this generalist trend are the academies but the other schools in the state sector are following and all groups are seeing the trend spread beyond year 7 into year 9.

In some school pupils will only receive one year of history by a specialist unless they take the GCSE. The lack of specialist teaching is compounded by an increase in schools ‘merging' humanities subjects so that many pupils don't have history lessons at all until year 8 - and then only for one or two years.

"Last year the Historical Association's survey raised the issue of the squeeze on time for history - this year the threat of time reduction is just one of many attacks happening to our subject - ministers talk about its importance and yet we see a completely different story happening in our schools - the rate of increase for limiting specialist teachers is particularly concerning". Rebecca Sullivan, CEO The Historical Association.   

You can download the full report below.

Report authors: Katharine Burn, Lecturer in History Education Institute of Education and Richard Harris, Lecturer History Education, Southampton University and Chair of the Historical Association's Committee for Secondary Education

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