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Last Updated: Tuesday, 20 December 2005, 04:30 GMT
Empire history 'key to UK life'
Depiction of slave trade
Schools are being urged to study the history of the British Empire
School history lessons should focus more on the British Empire to explain modern UK life, a think tank says.

MPs and historians were among those who contributed to the Fabian Society's review on "Britishness".

John Denham MP said: "We need to learn to tell our history so that it explains why so many people have roots in other parts of the world."

The review comes in the wake of concern voiced by an education watchdog about the "narrowing" of school history.

The annual report by the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority (QCA) in February found GCSE and A-level history was dominated by the Tudors and 20th century dictatorships.

We need to learn to tell our history so that it explains why so many people have roots in other parts of the world
John Denham MP

Topics such as the British Empire were not treated with the significance they merited, the QCA said.

The Fabian Society review published on Tuesday comes ahead of the think tank's "Britishness" conference in January debating reforms to the history curriculum.

'Public debate'

Mr Denham said the teaching of history in UK schools needed "greater honesty".

Education Select Committee member Gordon Marsden said the British Empire was often regarded as "too divisive" to study in multi-ethnic Britain.

However, he said there was "a strong emerging consensus among history professionals for change" and called for a broader public debate about "the history that we think we should know and share".

HAVE YOUR SAY
There is a definite need to broaden the history syllabus to include more time periods
Lucy Jones, Manchester, UK

Mr Marsden has been chairing an informal advisory group to make recommendations about the history curriculum to education ministers and officials as part of the post-Tomlinson report review of 14-19 education.

As well as the teaching of a broader span of British history, the advisory group is proposing closer links between school and university teachers and "history Oscars" to celebrate the most imaginative use of archives, museums, oral history and heritage sites.




SEE ALSO:
Alarm at history 'Hitlerisation'
04 Feb 05 |  Education
Empire stays in honours shake-up
22 Feb 05 |  UK Politics
Black poet spurns OBE
27 Nov 03 |  UK
'Teach more about British Empire'
11 Jul 04 |  Education


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