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The importance of teaching history to younger children and the risks of its removal as a key subject from the primary curriculum

Most of us could name – or blame – an individual responsible for inspiring us with our love of history. One of my finest was the Cambridge University professor, Tim Blanning, who crowned a long line of entertaining, eccentric and exhilarating tutors who, for me, made the past a living and vibrant affair.

But what about one’s school days? Over the past decade, I have asked thousands of teachers to review the history they learned as pupils. Most recall characters (or boredom) from secondary school history, few muster clear memories from earlier. Does this mean that history with five to eleven year-olds is at best mere preparation for the ‘real stuff’ of later years; at worst, a waste of time? The answer is emphatically ‘no’, as shown by the glorious, but almost secret, 1990s revolution in the teaching of primary-school history.

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