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Last Updated: Friday, 9 December 2005, 21:09 GMT
Book helps change history lessons
Dr David Starkey reading to pupils
The historian has set out to bring battles back into the classroom
A historian has launched a crusade to bring battles back into the classroom.

Dr David Starkey, known for presenting historical TV programmes, launched his campaign to focus on "blood and guts" at Barham Primary, in east Kent.

It coincides with the relaunch of a children's book, Our Island Story, which had been out of print.

"A child is interested in the story and humans," Dr Starkey said. "All that has gone. Instead they are given a document and are expected to say 'it's biased'."

The Institute for the Study of Civil Society (Civitas) which has relaunched Henrietta Marshall's Our Island Story said the book represented "a return to a way of teaching history that has been out of fashion".

Key historical events

The charity claims that narrative history, where children are taught that things happened in a certain order and one thing grows out of another, has been largely abandoned.

"As a result, surveys have discovered that young people have little or no idea about such key events in our national story as Magna Carta, the Civil War or the Great Reform Bill," its website states.

This year, the Historical Association recommended a "complete overhaul" of secondary-level history, claiming that much of the curriculum was "speculative and unhistorical".

Our Island Story
The children's history book, Our Island Story, was out of print

And in February, a report by the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority found that history in secondary schools was dominated by the Tudors and 20th Century dictatorships.

But it found that standards in history had continued to rise, and compared well to those in many other subjects.

The report claimed schools had tended to "play safe" by opting for appealing and familiar topics.

Civitas has made free copies of Our Island Story available to primary schools.

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