Lords debates the teaching of history in UK schools

20 October 2011

The House of Lords debated how history is currently taught in UK schools on Thursday 20 October. Could teaching history chronologically be a sensible way to help UK schoolchildren to make sense of the world?

Among the Members of the Lords taking part were a former secondary school teacher and history academics.

A House of Lords Library Note summarises theoretical arguments about the reasons for studying history, whether history as a discipline and a subject in schools is in decline, before describing the way history is currently taught in the school curriculum and how this might develop in future.

Lord Luke (Conservative), who tabled and opened the debate, said:

“This is the third debate I have tabled on the teaching of history in our schools because, although it is true that general interest in the subject is increasing and there is certainly more history on our televisions than ever before, I am concerned that not every youngster is given the chance to study history throughout their time at school.

“For the younger generation to understand who they are, they must learn where they have come from and the issues and events that underpin where we are today.  And teaching them history chronologically is the most sensible way of helping them to map current events onto the past.  It will give them a sense of cause and effect; that the cities known for industry today were at the forefront of the industrial revolution and that others have grown because of the advent of the railway.

“I hope that this debate will re-ignite the issue of the relevance and importance of teaching history in schools, ensuring it is taught in a logical way that will help children to make better sense of the world they find themselves living in today.”  

Other Members who contributed to the debate included (use the links to watch/listen to their contributions):

Baroness Benjamin (Liberal Democrat), Viscount Younger of Leckie (Conservative), Lord Addington (Liberal Democrat), Baroness Bakewell (Labour), Baroness Berridge (Conservative), and Baroness Walmsley (Liberal Democrat) are also took part in the debate.

Lord Hill of Oareford (Conservative) responded on behalf of the government.

Further information

Members of the public can attend House of Lords debates and follow proceedings from the public gallery.

Image: PA

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