The emergence of history as a subject within the primary curriculum during the twentieth century and its implementation in schools in the late 1990s.
The EInergence of History as a Subject within the PriInary Curricuhun during
the Twentieth Century and its ImpleInentation in Schools in the late 1990s.
The central concern of this thesis is that of curriculum change in relation to history
as a subject within the primary school curriculum. The thesis documents changes
which have occurred in the history curriculum during the last hundred years, and
explores issues of curriculum control and teacher autonomy: who selects
curriculum knowledge and on what basis is this selection made?
Goodson's (1994) view that subjects are not' monolithic entities', is explored and
changes and continuities within the primary history curriculum during the
twentieth century are investigated. The thesis analyses official documents relating
to the primary history discourse and situates them within prevailing educational
ideologies and developments in historiography.
U sing methodologies developed from the work of policy sociologists (Ozga: 1987,
Ball: 1990, 1994), the thesis studies three contexts of policy creation and
implementation relating to the history National Curriculum (Bowe & Ball: 1992).
a) Within the context of influence, the thesis analyses the primary history
discourse prior to the National Curriculum contextualising it within the political
and educational debates relating to curriculum construction. A framework for the
analysis of policy texts is developed which is used to trace the development of
history as a curriculum subject throughout the twentieth century. The thesis
explores Goodson' s (1994) claims that curriculum subjects have their origins in
utilitarian concerns, which then move onto pedagogic and more academic
justifications. Rationales for teaching history are analysed and located within
different educational ideologies. The impact of changing rationales on the
'knowledge drift' of the content of the history curriculum and the developing
pedagogy for history are also investigated.
b) The context of text production evaluates the debates relating to the creation of
the history National Curriculum and subsequent versions. The structure of the
National Curriculum and its implications for primary school curriculum
organisation is considered. The work of the History Working Group and its
recommendations for primary school history are discussed. The History Final
Report is analysed in detail as a source of evidence of official views on the history
curriculum and also in terms of the earlier traditions of history education,
identified in the preceding chapters.
Modifications to the history National Curriculum are considered, alongside
interpretations from different agencies which reveal the dynamic relationship
between policy construction and implementation. The roles of agencies such as the
National Curriculum Council (NCC), Schools Examination and Assessment
Council (SEAC), Schools Curriculum and Assessment Authority (SCAA) and
Qualifications and Curriculum Authority (QCA) are considered and their influenceon the National Curriculum analysed, alongside the roles played by commercial
publishers and the Historical Association. In addition, the production of history
texts is also investigated within broader educational contexts such as the Report of
the Three Wise Men (Alexander, Rose & Woodhead: 1992), the curriculum review
led by Lord Dearing (DFE: 1995) and the development of the Labour party's
educational policies following their election victory in 1997 (DfEE: 1997a).
c) Within the context of practice the thesis investigates the ways in which primary
school teachers interpret the history National Curriculum within their own beliefs
and values, and the impact of their different interpretations within the classroom.
Interview data provide evidence of the variety of experiences which influence
teachers' views of history. Different emphases which individual teachers place on
various aspects of history are analysed within Evans' (1994) model of history
teachers, which categorises teachers as storytellers, scientists and relativist
reformers. Primary teachers' management of history as a subject within the
primary curriculum is also explored and considered alongside the range of
competing interests present in primary schools.
The thesis combines documentary data with accounts by teachers of their beliefs
and practices. In this way, links between the macro and micro spheres of policy
making are identified. Thus the thesis provides insights into the extent to which
central policy can be imposed on compliant teachers and the extent to which
primary teachers mediate change, becoming 'policy makers in practice'
This study of curriculum history provides illuminative insights into contemporary
educational concerns as they are contextualised through a broader timespan. It also
contributes one example of the continuing evolution of a school subject within the
primary curriculum and provides an interesting case study which might be used to
analyse developments in other subject areas.