Historical Association Secondary Survey 2021

How diversity is currently taught within the history curriculum in English and Scottish schools: getting better, but room for improvement

For the past 11 years we have been doing an annual survey into history teaching in secondary schools. This year our main focus was on the content of the history curriculum, examined with a particular focus on diversity.

It looks particularly at diversity understood in terms of race and ethnicity, reflecting specific concerns raised by several petitions to Parliament in 2020, but several questions relate to other kinds of diversity too, including gender and LGBTQ+ issues. We could not explore all these dimensions in depth within a single survey, but we will return in subsequent years to the other grounds on which the experience of particular people tends to be marginalised or dismissed. 

The survey was launched in May 2021 and ran until the end of July.  

We had learned from the 2019 survey that around one-third of schools were seeking to diversify or decolonise their history curriculum.  

This year, the vast majority of schools (83%) report having made substantial changes to their Key Stage 3 curriculum in recent years to address issues of inclusivity and diversity (which here include other dimensions of diversity – such as the inclusion of women, disabled people, LGBTQ+ histories and working-class history – as well as wider world history or the inclusion of Black and Asian British history). 

Where the progress slows is at GCSE where the lack of diverse options is limited, although this is slightly improved at A-level. We will be taking this issue up in conversations with the exam boards and the Department of Education.

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