Next month in Worcester there’s a Practitioners Forum on Prehistory and the National Curriculum. It is “An initial meeting open to everyone who is interested in supporting schools in delivering the the National Curriculum topic of Prehistory for Key Stage 2. This is a big leap for schools, especially since most teachers will never have learned prehistory themselves.” More prehistory in schools is a theme we’ve been banging on about since the day we were formed (see Reclaiming Prehistory which pretty much comprises our founding statement, written by one of our members in May 2004, almost 10 years ago) so it’s great to see some of the developments that have come about in the past few years (excluding PAS’s reprehensible resource showing kids how they can use a metal detector to grab stuff of course).

A few years ago in our Inside the Mind series we asked Julian Richards what he’d say to Parliament if he could address them for 30 seconds and he said “I would ask why school pupils in this country are taught nothing about their pre-Roman heritage”. At about the same time English Heritage’s draft Research Strategy for Prehistory explained how education about sites is key to their preservation ….

The Heritage Cycle

The Heritage Cycle

The same document also quoted the All Party Parliamentary Archaeology Group which noted that prehistory didn’t feature in the English school national curriculum and remarked that the UK is the only European state to neglect prehistory in this way”.  But now thank goodness things are changing and there are a number of initiatives connected with educating children about their local prehistory. It was interesting to see there were children amongst the attendees at Oswestry Town Council’s recent meeting about Oswestry Hill Fort and even the Council welcomed the fact. Maybe the Heritage Cycle is working!

There are also some great Prehistory teaching resources out there, things to excite kids of any age, including us. Perhaps the best is “a Teachers Index on Prehistory” called “Show Me”  which says “We show you the FUN stuff from the UK’s museums and galleries”. Who could resist some of their news stories – “Woolly Rhino Skull Found In A Digger Bucket”, “Could Hobbits Have Been Real After All?” and “Should the setting of Oswestry Hill Fort be messed up?”.

That last one’s a lie of course, but it does beg the question, just how political should education about local prehistory be? English Heritage says education promotes preservation  (“by understanding the historic environment people care for it”) so should the National Curriculum be actively promoting preservation or coyly skirting round the issue of whether building houses close to monuments is damaging them? Maybe the Worcester Forum will issue a closing statement on the question!