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History in British Education

David Bates introduces a major conference exploring the place of history in our schools and colleges.

History is currently in the midst of a remarkable period of popularity among the British public. It is officially recognised to be well taught in schools and universities, and in general it proves both stimulating and popular with students. Yet, along with success and with changes in the way the subject is perceived have come a range of concerns which preoccupy professionals at all levels. Among these, arguably the most pressing are the reduction of history’s place in the school curriculum, the relationship between what is taught and learnt in schools and universities, the subject’s place in current discussions of citizenship and education and the role of museums, archives and heritage. In addition, long-running debates about what should be taught and learnt, and how, are also still very much with us.


In February 2005, a conference is being held to explore these questions at the Institute of Historical Research in London. It is organised by the Institute of Historical Research, the Historical Association, the Royal Historical Society and the History at the Universities Defence Group. It will set out not only to address the above issues, but to tackle them from a wider perspective. This will be achieved, for example, by including sessions in which school and university students present their observations on current debates and on the value of history, by featuring presentations on specific innovative projects, and by including professionals from museums, archives and the heritage-world in general.


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