History: Curriculum

Department for Education written question – answered on 22nd May 2019.

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Photo of Lord Pendry Lord Pendry Labour

To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the merits of revising the history curriculum to provide an honest and critical portrayal of the UK’s colonial history.

Photo of Lord Pendry Lord Pendry Labour

To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the merits of including the Opium Wars in the history curriculum in order to facilitate a greater understanding of (1) the UK’s colonial history, and (2) UK–Chinese relations.

Photo of Lord Agnew of Oulton Lord Agnew of Oulton The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Education

The current national curriculum programmes of study for history, which have been taught since September 2014, set the framework for the teaching of the subject in maintained schools in terms of the broad time periods and themes to be taught. Academies may design and follow their own curricula.

The government does not specify what the content of lessons on particular topics should be or how teachers should present information. We trust teachers, as professionals, to plan their own lessons and select their own resources.

However, the curriculum does aim to make sure that pupils know and understand how Britain has influenced and been influenced by the wider world. Therefore, Empire and colonialism is a significant theme, and a suggested topic within the ‘challenges for Britain, Europe and the wider world 1901 to the present day’ theme is ‘Indian independence and end of Empire’.

Programmes of study also require at least one study of a significant society or issue in world history and its interconnections with other world developments. While not mandatory, a suggested topic is ‘China’s Qing dynasty 1644-1911’, which encompasses the period within which the Opium Wars took place.

The national curriculum programmes of study for history for key stages 1-3 are attached and are available here: www.gov.uk/government/publications/national-curriculum-in-england-history-programmes-of-study.

We have no current plans to change the history curriculum. In order to provide a period of stability to schools, my right hon. Friend, the Secretary of State for Education has committed to making no new changes to the national curriculum during this Parliament.

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