Page last updated at 13:11 GMT, Tuesday, 9 March 2010

David Dimbleby says TV fills in for history lessons

David Dimbleby
David Dimbleby says the curriculum has neglected history

History programmes on television are filling in the gaps in children's knowledge of the subject, says veteran BBC presenter David Dimbleby.

In an interview in the Radio Times he said the treatment of history in the curriculum had been "less impressive".

Dimbleby said the popularity of TV history documentaries showed people had a genuine interest in the cultural heritage of the country.

Dimbleby is currently presenting the Seven Ages of Britain on BBC One.

The series is a story of Britain's past 2,000 years through its art and treasure.

The problem is less the teaching, but the time
Melanie Jones, Historical Association

In a question and answer interview in the Radio Times, the broadcaster said: "The success of Seven Ages and and other programmes - by Andrew Marr, Simon Schama and David Starkey - suggests to me that there is a great and perhaps growing interest in our history.

"Maybe we are filling in the gaps left by the less impressive treatment of history in the school curriculum."

Dimbleby also defended the presentation of history programming by non-academics.

"There is a place for the specialist, of course, but there is a place too for the broadcaster with a general layman's curiosity and interest," he said.

"Neither should exclude the other."

History 'well taught'

The Historical Association said the teaching of history in schools was judged by inspectors to be very good, but it said too little time was made available to the subject in the national curriculum.

In a survey of 700 UK schools in September last year, the association found three out of 10 schools no longer taught history as a stand alone subject at Key Stage 3 (the first three years of secondary school).

Melanie Jones, education manager for the association, said: "We regard history as being very well taught, but far too little curriculum time is devoted to it.

"The problem is less the teaching, but the time, the teaching time devoted to history."

History was an important subject because it taught pupils essential skills such as decision making and analytical expertise, she added.

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