History in the Balance: The Marginalisation of History in the Secondary School Curriculum in England

By Gary Clemitshaw.

Published by The Humanities Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

In the context of the United Kingdom, but with specific reference to England, the teaching of history in secondary schools has enjoyed a creative and vibrant energy in the last quarter of the 20th century. The ‘New History’ developed approaches which saw the learner as an active enquirer into the past, exploring not just the ‘what’, but also the ‘why’ and ‘how’ of historical knowledge, and the variety of ways it can be interpreted. A dynamic discourse within the subject community supported history regularly being identified as the best taught subject in the curriculum, and created a status for history teaching in England which had an international profile.
Given this, it is perhaps surprising to assert that history is in danger. Recent curriculum reform has tended to marginalise history, reducing time allocated to its teaching, integrating it with other subjects, or excluding it from the curriculum offered to many learners. Referring to Foucault’s analysis of neo-liberal governmentality, this article will analyse the rationale for these curriculum changes and assert the ‘cost’ of this marginalisation in terms of inequalities and citizenship.

Keywords: Education, Curriculum, History, Humanities, Citizenship, Neo-Liberalism, Governmentality

International Journal of the Humanities, Volume 7, Issue 9, pp.1-10. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.132MB).

Gary Clemitshaw

Lecturer In Education, PGCE History Course Tutor, School of Education, Faculty of Social Sciences, Sheffield Hallam University, Sheffield, South Yorkshire, UK

Secondary history teacher and subject leader 1977 - 2000. Lecturer in Education 2000 - on going. My research interests are in the field of the philosophy, ethics, policy and practice of the teaching of humanities, in particular history and citizenship. I am interested in the implications of post-structuralist philosophy for understanding this field. I am currently participating in small-scale collaborative research projects regarding training teachers’ thoughts about teaching ‘Britishness’ and ‘British values’, and into the current state of the humanities in English secondary schools. I am completing a doctoral thesis on a post-structuralist analysis of the current citizenship education project in England.


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