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Title: 'The opportunity to study History' : curriculum politics and school pupils' subject choice in the General Certificate of Secondary Education
Author: McMahon, Patrick J.
ISNI:       0000 0001 3625 780X
Awarding Body: University of Huddersfield
Current Institution: University of Huddersfield
Date of Award: 2008
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This study investigates (a) the existence of changes in pupils' perceptions of Key Stage 3 (KS3) History as they move from Year 8 (Y8) to Year 9 (Y9), when they make choices about which subjects they will study for General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE) during Key Stage 4 (KS4), and (b) whether any changes might influence their choices. The study adopts a qualitative approach involving 500 pupils and more than 60 teachers in 10 schools over two years. The place and usage of History in contemporary society are explored. The origins of History as a educational issue are reviewed from the late 18th Century to the late 20th Century when there was considerable debate as to what information should be taught, what skills should be developed and which teaching methodologies should be employed. These aspects were at times polarised when 'traditional' teaching seemed to be at odds with the 'new' Schools Council History Project, against a background of an evolving national examination system. With the compulsory inclusion of Citizenship within schools' curricula, the role and methodology of History are subject to further debate. The origins of the current situation, where school History is a non-compulsory subject in the compulsory state-maintained sector, is outlined with reference to issues and debates which led to comprehensive schools delivering History as an element of the National Curriculum as initially presented in the Education Reform Act (ERA) of 1988, which has since been subject to review and amendment. The study deals with the introduction, implementation and development of the ERA (1987 –2000) and focuses on the proposals for the subject of History, responses from teachers, administrators and Government as well as amendments proposed by the Dearing reviews leading towards Curriculum 2000. The background to the current GCSE examination scheme is reviewed along with the requirements for compulsory and non-compulsory subjects, and the rationales employed by individual schools when constructing ‘GCSE option choice schemes’. Factors that may affect pupils’ perceptions of History in their Y8 and Y9 are discussed. The sets of data collected reveal ways in which pupils may be influenced by (i) personal perceptions of interest, enjoyment, demands of work and usefulness in later life and (ii) externally-controlled issues such as socio-economic circumstances, access to Special Educational Needs (SEN) or language support, and the nature of the KS3 History curriculum they experience
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ed.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: LB2361 Curriculum ; LB1603 Secondary Education. High schools ; L Education (General)