BRITONS of all ages regard changes to the teaching of history as an abomination and an insult to the soldiers who died fighting for their country.
UK Express As the centenary of the First World War approaches, a new poll shows there is outrage that defining moments and figures in British history can be relegated below the rise of Islam and civilisations of West Africa and South America.
Eight out of 10 Britons oppose moves allowing schools to stop teaching about Britain’s role in the World Wars to concentrate on “world history”. Fewer than one in 10 thinks schools should be allowed to duck lessons on the sacrifices of millions of soldiers.
An Ipsos Mori poll found 82 per cent want the First World War to be taught, while 84 per cent believe the Second World War should be compulsory.
In the survey of 973 Britons aged 15 or over, only seven per cent thought it right not to make the two conflicts required topics. The new curriculum begins in September, weeks after the centenary commemoration starts.
Under it, teachers are only compelled to teach one of three history subjects – Benin in West Africa, early Islamic civilisation in Baghdad or the history of the Mayans in South America.
Chris McGovern, chairman of the Campaign for Real Education, which commissioned the poll, said: “We have a responsibility to ensure that those who gave their lives in the World Wars are remembered.
“The decision about whether or not to teach about the two World Wars should not be left to the whim of individual teachers.”
He added: “There is a lot of history to cover. Whatever is not compulsory may be, at best, skimped over. It may be a toss-up between the suffragettes, World War One, or the history of the Labour party. It may come down to imagining what it was like in the trenches and writing a letter home about how awful it was.
“I am not saying we should not teach about West African history but we should not be giving World War One lower status.”
The two wars and Winston Churchill, once cornerstones of teaching, are relegated to “examples (non-statutory)” that teachers “could include” in lessons.
A Department for Education spokesman said: “The new curriculum lays down clearly that all pupils must be taught about the challenges Britain faced in the 20th century.
“No responsible teacher could do that without mentioning the World Wars or Churchill.
“By stripping out unnecessary guidelines we will allow teachers to deal with subjects like the trenches, the Battle of Britain and Churchill and with more rigour. The new curriculum is supported by eminent historians.”