Browse the data

The research for the Project produced new original evidence about the development of history teaching in England over the past 80 or so years, which is accessible in this part of the site.

The surveys represent a large reservior of first-hand testimony about the teaching of history, from all age groups and from across the country. This is not, however, a representative collection across all types of schools. Despite the fact that approximately 20 per cent of schoolchildren went to grammar school between the late forties and the seventies, a significant majority of our respondents at secondary school then went to grammar schools. However, we received surveys from those born before the Second World War which gave insights into elementary school history and also other types of school which have now disappeared, such as central schools. Some of the respondents replied at length, others briefly. All of the responses have been included where they can be read clearly.

In terms of teacher respondents, we heard from teachers of all ages, even those newly-qualified. However, the bulk of our replies, not surprisingly, came from those advanced in their careers or those who had retired and could reflect on several decades of experience. Their recollections included their own history education and therefore add to the pupil evidence. They were also asked about their teacher training and career profile. These details have been anonymised in the survey digests included here. References to 'PS' and 'GS' signify 'primary school' and 'grammar school' respectively. They comment on the changes they have seen and give their opinions about the status (and state) of school history in the past and today.

The interviews represent a broader range of data about history education, since they include secretaries of state, curriculum innovators and teacher trainers, examiners and inspectors, as well as those in the classroom - the teachers and pupils. We looked to interview a range of educational backgrounds amongst pupils and 'compensated' for the lack of secondary modern school evidence by interviewing several teachers who had taught in secondary modern schools. Most of the pupil interviews are about half an hour and the teacher interviews about an hour and a standard set of questions was used, with adaptations depending on the individual's experience. For the politicians, advisers, inspectors and other 'experts', where an individual had played a prominent role in one development, for instance the creation of the first history National Curriculum, the interview largely focused on that aspect of their career, though broader issues were included. Many of these interviews lasted an hour and a half, or longer. An individualised set of questions was devised, though some common questions were included, e.g. on the relationship between history and national identity. Transcripts for all of the interviews are available to search for key words and to download. Under 'edited highlights' there is a set of digests of quotations from the interviews on particular topics of interest, e.g. the question of 'Britishness' or the 'moral role' of history.

The history school work has come to us mainly from survey respondents. We have photographed each person's school work as a collection with each book or project shown as a separate pdf file. They come from a variety of types of schools and periods and show how children learnt history, via their writing and drawing of historical subjects in class and for homework.

Finally, there are some statistics on examinations and syllabuses which were gathered for the research. These are of course available elsewhere, but are presented here for convenience, to assist those with an interest in the development of these topics.