Welsh history: Review ordered of place in curriculum

Owain Glyndwr
Image caption Owain Glyndwr: Should Welsh school children learn more about him and the rest of Wales' history?

A review of the way the history and culture of Wales is taught in school has been ordered by the education minister.

Leighton Andrews said interest in Welsh history had grown significantly over the last decade just as online resources to study it had boomed.

He said: "The time is right to look again at the place of Welsh history within the history curriculum."

A review group, led by historian Dr Elin Jones, will report in July 2013.

In a statement, Mr Andrews said the 13 members of the group had been picked for their range of academic, school and work-based expertise in heritage, local and national history, and black and ethnic minority history.

They will look also look at the Curriculum Cymreig - part of the school curriculum which Mr Andrews said helped pupils "understand and celebrate the distinctive quality of living and learning in Wales".

The review will consider whether those requirements are best taught in history lessons and whether there is enough emphasis on the history of Wales in classrooms.

Dr Jones told BBC Wales: "It's always been the case that the curriculum needs to be updated - we need to reflect the way the world has changed around us.

'Perspective changed'

"It used to be that you could tell pupils: 'You can ask your grandfather about the Second World War'; well, you can't do that any more as time has moved on, and our perspective has changed.

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Media captionSocial historian and former history teacher Val Williams spoke to Oliver Hides

"I don't see anything wrong with an emphasis on relevance. I used to work at the (National) Museum and we always used to say we should look for the 'me' in 'museum'. We've got to look for the 'me' in history, how does it touch me?

"Take Cardiff for instance; there are kids living in Cardiff whose families came from Somalia - what brought them here? What kept them here? How do they see the past of the city around them?"

Val Williams, a social historian and former teacher, said: "I think a lot of schools right across the board, primaries as well, do really try to make sure children are looking at Welsh history.

"It's improved a lot actually because in all honesty the resources available for Welsh history used to be really poor, and they've improved tremendously."

She told BBC Radio Wales that schools could still offer pupils a balanced view by, for example, teaching the Welsh experience of immigration or child labour.

"I don't mean everything you do has got to be from Wales, but if you're looking at the development of nursing in the Crimea why not actually look at Betsi Cadwaladr as well as Florence Nightingale?"

Betsi Cadwaladr, from Bala, worked alongside the more famous Nightingale as a nurse during the Crimean War in the nineteenth century. The local health board that runs the NHS in north Wales is named after her.

In England, Education Secretary Michael Gove has said children are growing up ignorant of UK history and "our island story".

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