Owain Glyndwr, not Henry VIII as Wales plans a history shake-up

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The history of Wales rather than England should be the focus of lessons for Welsh GCSE students, according to a panel commissioned by the Welsh government.

The curriculum is too dominated by “Anglo-centric British history” and pupils should instead study the history of Wales including some revolutionaries like Owain Glyndwr as part of their GCSEs, it was concluded.

In its report, the panel said the history of Wales should not be treated as something to be “attached” to the history of England and, as Wales is the home of its learners, “a map of their past should be as familiar to them as the way home from school”.

The group, chaired by historian Dr Elin Jones, recommends an element of Welsh history should be integrated into GCSE history specifications and there should be a compulsory historical element in the Welsh Baccalaureate qualification.

The report states that although there was never any obligation on them to do so, many teachers choose to teach a form of British history that is almost entirely dominated by England.

It adds: “The programme of study for history has from its inception given appropriate attention to local and Welsh history, and good practice also indicates starting with the local and the familiar, developing into consideration of the unfamiliar and the wider world.

“Nevertheless, the panel’s experience suggests that many learners in Wales learn far more about the history of England than that of their own area and country. The task group also believes that not enough attention is paid to the other countries of Britain, and that there is also a tendency to concentrate on a narrow range of topics in the history of Europe and the world.”

The panel said the standard of history teaching could be raised and made more consistent across Wales, while the lack of teaching resources suitable for schools had been a matter of concern for many years.

And the group stressed that the Wales-specific “Cwricwlwm Cymreig” should not be confined to history – and all subjects should be given a Welsh perspective.

It said it should become compulsory for all qualifications offered in Wales to include a “Welsh dimension” and calls for all course specifications to be reviewed.

The Welsh government has launched a consultation on the group’s findings, which will feed into a wider review of the national curriculum.

Education minister Leighton Andrews, who commissioned the study, said: “The time is now right to look again at the place of Welsh history within the history curriculum, at how the story of Wales can be developed in schools, and at the future of Cwricwlwm Cymreig within this changing landscape.”

Teachers can comment on the report via the Learning Wales website at http://learning.wales.gov.uk/


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