History "not everybody's cup of tea": UK high school drops history, geography in favour of integrated humanities GCSE





A school in the Liverpool suburb of Crosby has axed history and geography from its curriculum. St Michael's Church of England High will stop teaching history from September, with geography dropped one year later. An integrated humanities GCSE will combine elements of both subjects with aspects of sociology and economics.

The school, which has 819 pupils on its books, has denied it ditched the traditional subjects as a means of improving its GCSE pass rate. The school said a decline in students wishing to study the subjects to examination level was behind the move.

Parents are understood to be concerned with the timing of the announcement – which came after Year 9 pupils had submitted 'options' forms – lessons to continue studying to examination level. Students wishing to study GCSE history have been told they will be unable to do so in school hours.

Headteacher Yvonne Sharples admitted history, taken at GCSE level by only a third of teenagers nationally,"was not everybody's cup of tea".

She said:"We take every opportunity to ensure there is a balance of academic and vocational subjects on offer. Inevitably, not every student will get their first choice. This year one particular subject only had six students wishing to study it. We would be heavily criticised by the local authority for allowing such a small group to be part of our curriculum. However, such is the commitment of the school and the teacher concerned [that] we are prepared to offer these young people the opportunity to study their chosen subject as an extra-curricular option."

A source close to the school told the Crosby Herald the decision to axe subjects could be a way of"massaging" A-C grades. In 2007 only 23% of students achieved five A* to C grades including Maths and English, rising to 43% last year.

The source said:"All the kids got their options sheets and filled in what subjects they wanted to study to GCSE. The forms were returned but now the school has pulled subjects. It's really bad management – you can't just tell the kids that they can't study their chosen subjects. A lot of parents are fuming. They think of history as a traditional subject. There is a national trend of axing harder subjects from the curriculum as a way of massaging a school's GCSE A-C grades."

Under the proposed humanities syllabus, students could study aspects of politics and history, such as student tuition fees reform. Aspects of geography would emerge in issues such as consumer waste and citizenship.


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