Gove: Schools will ‘stop trashing our past’
By Peter Wozniak
Michael Gove has announced a revamp of history education so that children learn “our island story”.
The education secretary has brought the historian Simon Schama on board to adapt the national curriculum to emphasise ‘narrative British history’.
Announcing the change at the Conservative conference in Birmingham, Mr Gove said: “One of the under-appreciated tragedies of our time has been the sundering of our society from its past. Children are growing up ignorant of one of the most inspiring stories I know – the history of our United Kingdom.
“Our history has moments of pride, and shame, but unless we fully understand the struggles of the past we will not properly value the liberties of the present.
The education secretary lamented the current approach – what he called a “cursory run through Henry the Eighth and Hitler”.
He vowed, in a statement likely to send the Tory grassroots into rapture: “This trashing of our past has to stop.”
Mr Gove’s famous new advisor, Professor Schama, echoed the government’s sentiments with glowing praise.
“It represents a moment of cultural and educational rediscovery. Without this renewed sense of our common story – one full of contention not self-congratulation – we will be a poorer and weaker Britain.
“With a rebirth of history in our curriculum we will be richer and stronger.”
Among other measures announced in Mr Gove’s speech to conference – again likely to please the Tory frontline – were plans to allow headteachers powers to discipline misbehaving pupils outside the grounds of the school.
The education secretary will be glad of the warm reception in the conference hall, but will also be concerned with the news that three councils have started legal action to overturn his decision to scrap the school-building programme in July.