Charles History Lesson for Balls; Prince Fights to Save Traditional Subjects in Schools; Pupils Will Study Blogging Instead of Geography

The Evening Standard (London, England), November 19, 2009 | Go to article overview

Charles History Lesson for Balls; Prince Fights to Save Traditional Subjects in Schools; Pupils Will Study Blogging Instead of Geography


Byline: Tim Ross Education Correspondent

THE Prince of Wales is on a collision course with ministers over plans to axe traditional history and geography teaching in primary schools.

Bernice McCabe, one of the Prince's closest advisers, said Charles was "passionate" about protecting the jewels of English literature and preserving lessons in British history.

Mrs McCabe, a leading headmistress, condemned reforms to education that she said had reduced schools to "globalised theme parks". In an interview with the Standard, she said too many children are taught skills instead of historical dates, basic science and classic books.

The remarks come on the day Children's Secretary Ed Balls announces that he is abolishing established subject headings in primary schools.

Under the Government's plan, pupils as young as five will study blogging and Google Earth, while history and geography will be rolled into themed lessons on social issues such as global warming.

Traditional subjects on the national curriculum will be replaced with six new areas of learning, such as "historical, geographical and social understanding" and "understanding physical development, health and wellbeing".

Mrs McCabe, co-director of the Prince's Teaching Institute, said Charles believed the rigorous teaching of subject knowledge was the foundation of a good education .

"He is very passionate about the fact that children need a good grasp of literature and that all children need to understand the history of our country," she said. "He is passionate that these subjects should remain there in the curriculum. I would hope that the vast majority of people in our society would think that."

Pupils "might be excited" by spending a week on a project about global warming in which they are supposed to learn a combination of history, science and geography. But they would probably not remember the science or geography behind climate change, she said .

"Sometimes there are too many shortcuts into theme-based teaching. That's not what gets children learning. It's not what gives them a sense of selfrespect."

Mrs McCabe is headmistress of North London Collegiate School in Stanmore, one of the most successful independent girls' schools. She was headhunted to run the Prince of Wales's education summer schools and then to lead the Prince's Teaching Institute.

Charles has said that he set up his training programmes for English and history teachers "to put a stop to what might be termed the 'cultural disinheritance' that has gone on for too long" in state schools. …

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