Concern over school history syllabus


As history students around the country revise for their upcoming exams, this week’s headlines have highlighted concerns over the current teaching of the topic. 


Niall Ferguson is to be involved with the Conservatives’ overhaul of the school syllabus. The Harvard-based historian, who specialises in economic and colonial history, has argued that children should be taught history as part of a grand narrative with a Eurocentric focus.

The appointment has raised questions about the role of history education, and spawned debate over the importance of the subject. Meanwhile, Terry Deary, writer of the bestselling children’s Horrible Histories series, has launched an attack on the ‘lies’ taught in schools, and historians’ lack of objectivity. 

Elsewhere, ancient relics taken from Libya in the 1950s by two British soldiers have been returned. The items, which include the bronze prow of a Greek ship and a Roman terracotta lamp, are now on display in Tripoli Museum.

Back at home, one of the largest collections of Winston Churchill memorabilia sold at auction for almost £600,000 this week. Among the 150 items sold was an unsmoked Havana cigar and a letter from the wartime leader. 

Alternatively there is still the chance to bid for a James Bond-style gun formerly owned by Lord Mountbatten, uncle of the Duke of Edinburgh and the last Viceroy of India. The gun, disguised as a pencil, is to be sold alongside other personal sidearms in London this June, a collection that is expected to raise up to £8,000.

A local history society has used recently released government documents to uncover the history of a site at Rhydymwyn Valley near Mold. The Flintshire site, built before the Second World War, would have been the secret storage site for the UK’s gold reserve if the Cold War had turned nuclear. 

A new online development will allow internet users to ‘pin’ their historic photos to Google Streetview. HistoryPin, developed in partnership with Google, will show the changing face of local streets and landmarks over the years.

A darker use of the internet has also hit the news this week as gangs of thieves target historic homes around the country. The gangs are believed to use the internet to identify valuable goods within the properties and then sell them at online auction sites. They are thought to have carried out at least 21 major burglaries, one of which resulted in the disappearance of £500,000 worth of porcelain antiques.


Finally, it has recently been revealed that civil servants are being paid more than the Prime Minister. While some may see this as disproportional, it is worth taking a look back over the last few centuries to see how Cameron’s predecessors made ends meet.