Education Secretary Michael Gove is to ask English Heritage to draw up a list of local schoolchildren can visit them and be inspired by ‘our rich island shistorical sites so story’.
Mr Gove said the part that the local historic environment has played, century after century, would inspire pupils by ‘bringing history alive’.
He highlighted how, for instance, schoolchildren in King’s Lynn, Norfolk, could:
· see the remains of the Franciscan friary, shattered by the Reformation;
· visit the great Tudor pilgrimage chapel used as a gunpowder store during the Civil War;
· explore the opulent Restoration hotel, The Duke’s Head, built to register support for James, Duke of York, during the exclusion crisis; and
· visit the dock from which explorer George Vancouver sailed to Canada.
Mr Gove said: ‘All of these are the physical remains of the rich, controversial and thrilling story of England. All belong to the people locally, and local children who visit them will be inspired to delve further. We have a rich island story, which can be brought to life by seeing our historical and heritage sites.’
English Heritage, which will receive £2.7m over three years from the Department for Education, would work with heritage partners to deliver the project. The money will go on recruiting brokers – including experts in heritage education – to work with clusters of schools and help use local heritage to deliver the curriculum.
Simon Thurley, Chief Executive of English Heritage, said: ‘Outside every school there is a rich history. In the high street, the housing estate, the park, riverside and field, every town, city and village is full of places in which significant events have taken place. We want every child, their parents and teachers to enjoy and take pride in the heritage of their local area and to understand the part it played in the rich story of England. Our Heritage Schools initiative will bring history to life both in the classroom and out of it, weaving it into the life of the community and endowing present and future generations of children with a vivid understanding of the place in which they grew up.’
Both proposals could help to commemorate the 100th anniversary of World War 1, in 1914, by encouraging schools to link with historical organisations to identify servicemen who lived in their local area, or study local war memorials.
The proposals come as a major independent review of cultural education by Darren Henley, the managing director of Classic FM, is due to be published this week. Mr Henley was asked by the Department for Education and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport. Mr Henley also recommends that teachers – both newly qualified and experienced – are given more support so they can demonstrate the benefits and value of cultural education to children and young people.
Darren Henley said: ‘There are challenges fitting all the necessary aspects of teacher training into a relatively short period of time. So I believe more support should be given to newly qualified teachers in this area. Experienced teachers would also benefit from the availability of more wide-ranging Continuing Professional Development, allowing them to ensure that their skills in this area remain relevant and up-to-date. The impact great teachers and great teaching can have on a child’s engagement with cultural education should never be underestimated. Every day in schools across the country, life-changing moments happen for children because of the intervention of a dedicated teacher. It is vital that the schools have teachers who recognise the importance of cultural education within their schools and have the training, experience and tools to teach it to a high level.’
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