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Last Updated: Thursday, 18 September, 2003, 15:22 GMT 16:22 UK
Plaid rejects imperial history call
Llywelyn the Last
Llywelyn the Last fought against English rule in the thirteenth century
An attempt to get Plaid Cymru to condemn an over emphasis on "imperialistic British history" in schools has failed.

But delegates at the party's annual conference in Cardiff on Thursday, accepted amendments to the motion - including more wide-ranging studies.

It was felt the history curriculum was "outdated" and should be replaced with one including Welsh, European and non-western cultures.

In addition, members agreed that in terms of history being taught in school around Wales they should develop "a specific and comprehensive National Curriculum for Wales".

Plaid's South Merthyr and Rhymni branch had attempted to secure support for a motion which condemned "the continued central role of imperialistic British history on the history curriculum and in our schools here in Wales".

What in fact we get is the history of England, not the history of Britain.
Owen John Thomas AM

And another branch, Dyffryn Ogwen, called for members to vote that "an equal emphasis be given to the negative aspects of Imperial British history" - an amendment which also failed to be adopted.

Backing the original motion, Phyl Griffiths, from Plaid's South Merthyr and Rhymni branch, said that Welsh schoolchildren were suffering from a "crisis of identity" as a result of being taught a British-orientated history.

He claimed the emphasis on British history in Welsh schools was "an act of treachery".

But opposing the motion, party member John Blackwood warned that it would attract ridicule from opposition parties and schoolteachers.

Earlier, South Wales Central AM, Owen John Thomas - the party's minister for culture, Welsh language and sport - told BBC Radio Wales that Welsh children were not taught enough about the country's history.

Storming of Srirangapatna, India
Some Plaid members claim emphasis is placed on the British Empire

He added: "I don't think the children of Wales get the opportunity to learn about the history of their country.

"Wales has a very rich history.

"What in fact we get really is that we are taught the history of England, not the history of Britain."

"People say to me, adults say, 'we were taught how Alfred burnt the cakes, but I wasn't taught anything about Owain Glyndwr'.

"We all know about Sir Walter Raleigh with his cape and the pool of water."

But historian and former teacher Val Williams said she thought Mr Thomas was making a "sweeping generalisation".

She said: "When I was teaching, I always had a strong focus on what was happening in Wales.

"Even if I was teaching something like the First World War, I looked at examples that came from Wales, people from Wales who were out there in the trenches."

In another amendement which was passed, members called to broaden and complement the history curriculum with the teaching of the history of visual arts in Wales.

An example of what that might include would be to look at the work of artists such as Ceri Richards, Thomas Jones, Richard Wilson and Kyffin Williams - putting them in an historical and European context.

The thinking behind this is to explore more of the social history of Wales through art.

The Plaid Cymru conference is due to run until Sunday at Cardiff's St David's Hall.

Plaid Cymru's new leadership team of Dafydd Iwan and Ieuan Wyn Jones are both due to speak, just days after being elected to the party's top jobs.

On Thursday, delegates discussed the low turnout in May's Welsh assembly elections and listened to speeches from AMs Owen John Thomas and Dai Lloyd.

On Friday, Mr Iwan is due to make his first conference speech as president of the party, before new assembly group leader Mr Jones speaks to delegates on Saturday.

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