The ss Great Britain in Bristol

Museums urge Gove to rethink history curriculum

Patrick Steel, 16.04.2013
Open letter flags up negative impact of proposals on young people
In an open letter to education secretary Michael Gove, representatives from the Museums Association, Association of Independent Museums, National Museum Directors' Council, and the Army Museums Ogilby Trust, have called for a change to the proposed new history curriculum.

“The new curriculum plan is in danger of excluding many primary school children from visiting a great museum or heritage site as part of their learning experience,” it reads. “Under the new curriculum all children up until the age of 11 will be taught almost nothing that happened after the year 1688.

“While some children will be in range of perhaps Roman ruins, or maybe a Tudor House, the majority of places that provide great learning experiences (eg some 75% of UK independent museums) are rooted in our rich and diverse history of the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries.

“These many places include for example the Imperial War Museum, London Transport Museum, the Ragged School Museum, Ironbridge Gorge, Brunel’s ss Great Britain, the D-Day Museum, the National Motor Museum, the Wordsworth Museum, or the Black Country Living Museum…

“We urge you to adjust the proposals so that we do not exclude young people from these inspirational learning experiences by clinging to too rigid a curriculum proposal.”

The letter echoes the Museums Association’s response to the proposals, which calls for more flexibility to be given to teachers to allow them to include more recent periods such as Victorian Britain or the First and Second World Wars in their teaching to younger pupils.