Saturday, November 11, 2006


Feeling under the weather? Be careful who you tell. Health Service Journal (Nov 2) reports on plans by the Scottish Executive to quarantine anyone with a serious infectious disease in their own home. A consultation document also proposes that, under revamped public health laws, people could be compelled to undergo examination or treatment against their will.

Tim Brett, the director of Health Protection Scotland, says that the measures would help in a flu pandemic. “I’m sure the vast majority of people would accept any such requirement.” The plans recognise the significant human rights issues raised by such measures but Scotland’s Chief Medical Officer says that it is time public health laws were updated. They date from 1897.


"Persistent standing" incorrect

British weirdness extends even to football

A club in trouble needs all the backing it can get from its own supporters. So, what does West Ham do? It punishes its fans for standing up too much. Last week, 20 season ticket holders received letters from the club saying: `You have ignored repeated requests to remain seated and are therefore placing the club in jeopardy of losing capacity. As a result you are banned from attending Upton Park for two matches.' Don't you just love traditional cockney hospitality?

There are a lot of stupid, petty regulations at football these days. There's a law, for example, that prohibits spectators from drinking alcohol within sight of the pitch. Why? Well, God knows what might happen? A tantalising glimpse of luscious green turf, the heady scent of freshly mown's enough to drive an Englishman stark raving bonkers. There are all sorts of silly edicts about what you're not allowed to take through the turnstiles - I remember a blind caller to Danny Baker's radio phone-in show recounting how his white stick had been confiscated by stewards.

But the ban on persistent standing at football match has got to be one of the most asinine rules ever invented. The Football Licensing Authority says that persistent standing is a health and safety hazard. Run that past me again? I can see how setting off fireworks or hurling missiles might be dangerous. But persistent standing? It's got to be one of the most unthreatening, innocuous activities known to mankind. Persistent standing isn't considered hazardous in any other social context. People persistently stand all the time - at bus stops, on railway platforms, in banks, at supermarket checkouts - and nobody bats an eyelid. But stand up at a Premiership football match and you're a hooligan. Ridiculous! Persistent standing isn't even proscribed under Sharia law - a measure of how draconian this ban is.

The Football Licensing Authority claims that persistent standing could lead to fans toppling like dominoes or else falling off the upper tier of a football stand. Have these things ever happened? No. How many football spectators have been killed our seriously injured as a result of persistent standing in all-seater stadiums? None. `What about Hillsborough?' say the football authorities. It's a tired old refrain. Invoking Hillsborough is not so much an argument as a dishonest method of closing down any debate about standing. But did anyone die at Hillsborough because of persistent standing? No. The overcrowding which led to 96 Liverpool fans been crushed to death was caused by what Lord Justice Taylor's official report described as the `failure of police control'.

West Ham fans have waged a protracted battle with the club over their right to stand during games. A group of enterprising fans have set up the Stand Up Sit Down campaign which is calling for `safe standing' sections at football grounds. Now, I'm all in favour of fans standing up if that's how they prefer to follow their team. And yes, dishing out bans for persistent standing is a very shabby way to treat your own season ticket holders. But I'm not sure I want licensed standing sections either.

Stand Up Sit Down argue that enforced seating is responsible for the muted atmosphere at many Premiership stadiums. Excuse the pun but I don't think their argument stands up. The minority of fans who prefer to stand up are usually the ones making all the noise anyway. Give them their own safe standing enclosures and they'll still be vocal but it doesn't follow that everyone else will join in. Enforced seating is just one of a number of factors that have contributed to the deathly hush at football grounds. The restrictions on alcohol consumption, the rules governing obscene chanting, the piped music blasting out over PA systems: these measures have all contributed to the pacification of football crowds.

What I object to isn't so much being forced to sit down but no longer being free to support my team as I see fit. It's not just enforced seating; it's the broader regimentation of fan conduct that's the problem. I don't want official permission to stand any more than I want to be forced to sit down. But nor do I want a raft of rules circumscribing drinking, chanting, swearing, and smoking. And it's the unshackling of fans from all these killjoy constraints that we should be standing up for.


Forget race, we have prejudices you haven't dreamt of

Roland White attended a diversity training class that revealed how fed up we are becoming with enforced cultural sensitivity

In our modern multiracial world, it is no picnic being called Mr White. People do tend to make such assumptions. Which is why I am sitting in a rather dreary hotel in the Midlands, staring at a flip chart and waiting to receive my very first dose of diversity training.

The first thing you notice is that we’re not particularly diverse. My classmates all work for an NHS team that looks after drug addicts. There are 14 white people, and just one black woman. Our instructor is also a white male, Laurence Harvey. He is certainly not the stereotypical diversity trainer. A former salesman and drummer in a small-time rock band, he became interested in the world of equality and diversity while working as a police constable in Northampton. But while he might be an unusual teacher, I suspect that we are a very typical class. All of us have been sent here by our employers, and very few of us look grateful.

“What do you expect from today’s course?” asks Harvey brightly. “Why did you come here?” “Because we’ve been told we have to,” says one woman with brutal honesty. A male colleague is even more frank. He is bald and stocky, and looks — by his own description – like a thug. “I’ve been on lots of these before,” he says, tucking a pencil behind his ear, “and I’m interested to see which racial group is fashionably more equal these days.”

Later in the morning we will be asked to tick off our own prejudices from a list of 36 possible targets. These include men with ginger hair, women with tattoos, Germans on holiday and caravan drivers. If you are a ginger-haired German on a caravanning holiday this might be an uncomfortable moment. But there is something missing. Because I’d bet that right at the top of many people’s list of dislikes is diversity training itself.

We are all supposed to be embracing diversity, but the evidence suggests we’re not embracing it all that warmly. According to the Migrationwatch pressure group, around 726,000 immigrants arrived in London in the 10 years up to 2005. In response, 606,000 Londoners seem to have packed up and moved to other parts of the country. We have an example right here on our course. She is a secretary who arrived in the Midlands three years ago from north London. “I was beginning to feel that I was the foreigner,” she says.

“I couldn’t actually say that I was proud to be English because that wasn’t acceptable.” Some people go even further. According to figures released last week, nearly 200,000 Britons emigrated last year.

The Orwellian attitude adopted by parts of the race relations industry has not helped. When Oona King wanted to adopt a child, a social worker queried her application form. The former Labour MP had described herself as “mixed race”. The white social worker, after taking advice from a black colleague, insisted the correct term was now “dual heritage”.

Just last week two workers on the London Underground were hauled before a court — and quickly cleared — over an incident involving a bag of black jelly babies. Station manager Victor Cooney told the court: “One time I gave him a bag of jelly babies and he called me a racist because there were too many black ones in the bag.”

It was also reported last week that Kirklees council in West Yorkshire has just reversed a long-term equality policy that — among other things — banned the phrase “political correctness”. Council leader Robert Light explained: “Nowadays we all live in a diverse community and we realise that this sort of simplistic approach belittles the concept of equality.”

It’s a change that is long overdue, especially in the world of diversity training. Under the old-fashioned approach, people — usually white people — were often forced to role play so that they could explore the depths of their supposed bigotry. “On a previous course I was asked how I wanted my coffee,” says my stocky male classmate. “When I said black I was told that was not acceptable and I should have asked for coffee without milk.” On another course he listened resentfully as a black tutor explained how white people could never truly understand discrimination.

Perhaps the most controversial diversity specialist is an American called Jane Elliott, who divides her classes into “blue-eyed” and “brown-eyed”. The brown-eyed classmates then get to mock their blue-eyed workmates. According to Elliott, this gives them a feeling of what it is like to be black. Elliott, by the way, is white.

Critics of this approach say it creates bitterness and resentment. They also insist that it doesn’t work. In a report published in September, Harvard professor Frank Dobbin said diversity training simply wasn’t worth the money. “For the past 40 years companies have tried to increase diversity, spending millions of dollars without actually stopping to determine whether or not their efforts have been worth it. Certainly in the case of diversity training the answer is no.”

Yet it’s still big business. It was recently reported that Scotland Yard alone had spent £450m on equality and diversity in the past three years. And in that time, race discrimination claims have risen by 24%.

Harvey and his company, Actuate Learning and Development, have a completely different approach. In fact he hardly mentions race at all. Don’t look at people as members of any racial group, he advises, but approach them as individuals. “Previous courses have told people about taking their shoes off when visiting a Muslim’s house,” he says. “The trouble is, not all Muslims will ask you to take off your shoes. On the other hand, I might ask you to remove your shoes if I have a new carpet put in. It’s just a question of common sense.”


Prime suspect

Lifelong Labour supporter Maureen Freely has been at the thick of family policy for a decade as an author, academic and political commentator — and as a mother of four. But she can take no more. The government, she argues, has killed family life. And all the evidence points to Tony Blair being the main culprit

Let me begin with a confession. For the past 10 years I have led a double life. The first was with my family, my colleagues, my students, my neighbours and my friends. The second I spent with those who set the rules by which we live. These are the politicians, civil servants, academics and activists who gathered together after new Labour’s landslide victory to transform family policy. Their brief was to formalise the relationship between government and parents: in bald terms, to turn parents into a new breed of line managers. For if families were right to expect the government to provide proper public services, then the government was right to expect families to turn out proper children. And if they didn’t, well, it was only right that the government step in to sort them out.Did I ever buy this? No. I had my doubts from the beginning. I feared that the people at the top were interested in families only because they saw in them a source of cheap labour. No, let me correct that. A source of unpaid labour. Slave labour. They weren’t very happy with these substandard children we were producing: we were now to be improved. As alarmed as I was by that prospect, I was more alarmed by the factory imagery in which it was couched. Taken literally, the future of Blair’s and Straw’s and Blunkett’s dreams was an assembly line, along which we, the parent line managers, would impose company discipline to produce the highest-quality product at the lowest possible cost.For 10 years, I tried hard to convince myself it was wrong to read too much into a metaphor. This couldn’t be what they really meant. Committed Labourite that I was, I had to believe they were castigating parents in the press so they could fob off the Daily Mail. But it wasn’t just blind faith that lulled me. At the conferences, seminars and panel discussions I attended, the talk was very different. Here I found many others who lived double lives like mine. Whatever their professional titles, they had first-hand experience of the hell that is working parenthood. Like me, many had lived through separation and divorce. Married or unmarried, they’d had to care for their parents as well as their children. They had concluded – as I had – that the way we lived today was mad and unworkable. Which was why they were here. Why we were all here. But, reader, we were conned.I’ll begin as the villains of this piece so often do, by naming and shaming: Harriet Harman, who brokered the new deal for single mothers so they could know the “dignity of work” and give their children a future, but forgot to join the dots; Jack Straw, who dazzled the nation with his bright new package of joined-up policies that promised not just to support families, but to treat them as partners in the enterprise, only to swan off to the Foreign Office, after which nothing ever joined up again; Gordon Brown, who tried but failed to end child poverty; David Blunkett, who, having found lazy teachers, feckless parents and their wayward children to be the source of all social ills, went on to hector and punish them; and last but not least, Tony Blair, the man at the top, who did not just neglect to join up his own policies, but sometimes seemed to go out of his way to make sure they failed. He has not just turned parents into line managers, but vastly augmented our job description: never before have we been expected to work to such high standards or faced such an array of legal sanctions should we fail to make the grade. Never before have we been expected to do so much with our children in so little time. For we are less and less likely to be at home with them, and more and more likely to be in paid employment – which is, I think, just where Blair wants us. But he has failed to honour his side of the bargain. Though he set up systems that might have made it possible to square the circle, he has starved most of them of funds, making it impossible for them to deliver. He has also refused to heed the messages coming from his own experts, whose studies consistently show that parent support only works if it is respectful, responsive and non-punitive. Instead he has encouraged his disciples to take a fire-and-brimstone approach with failing families. His definitions of failure have become so broad that the day cannot be far off when they subsume us all.If families are worse off today than they were 10 years ago, it’s Tony Blair who has the most to answer for. So, in the spirit of fair play, let me acknowledge the ways his government has helped many families, at least in some small way. Of course you’ll know about these already. Whenever a new one is introduced, his spin machine ensures maximum coverage.The government has increased child benefit and introduced a working families’ tax credit and a childcare tax credit that has been taken up by 6m families. The 12.5 hours’ weekly free entitlement to childcare now covers 38 weeks of the year. It has opened 1,000 Sure Start Children’s Centres, all in underprivileged urban areas, offering comprehensive and integrated services to almost 1m children and their families. It has extended paid maternity leave and introduced two whole weeks of paternity leave for new fathers, and given all parents with children under six and the parents of disabled children under 18 the right to ask for flexible working hours. It has significantly increased childcare provision, largely in the private sector, and offered special assistance to lone parents wishing to return to work. In 2004 it launched a nationwide policy called Every Child Matters, which pledges to provide greatly extended parent and child services, using schools as the hub, by the end of the decade. But it has failed to create a level playing field for women at work, or men at home. Why? Because it’s afraid. Afraid of what Business Might Say. This despite the fact that the business case for work-life balance is well rehearsed. Blair could declare it a national priority, suggest to business and other concerned parties that working together to figure out a better way of integrating work and domestic responsibilities would benefit us all, and even (as research has shown) increase productivity. What nation can prosper if it sends well over half its population to work dog-tired?Instead of addressing the central contradiction of our time, Tony Blair has pretended it isn’t there. Though he’s put more pressure, much more pressure, on mothers to go into paid employment, he has done next to nothing to address the discrimination against mothers in the workplace. After nine years of lip service to equality, 20% of women still face dismissal or financial loss because of a pregnancy. If they choose to work part-time while their children are young, they will earn 40% less per hour than men doing the same job full-time. If they return to full employment after only one year in part-time work, they will still be earning 10% less 15 years on. Some losses they will never recover: despite recent tinkering, pensions are still designed for people who work full-time all their working lives, thus discriminating against those who take time off to care for their families.But what about men? Shouldn’t they shoulder some of the responsibility? Increasingly, they are. After three decades of arguing about where a woman’s place really was, a recent EOC (Equal Opportunities Commission) poll found that only 15% of women and 20% of men in this country think women should stay at home. Fathers, meanwhile, are spending more time with their children, undertaking about one-third of their care. Where mothers have jobs, one-third cite fathers as the main carer. So it should make a difference that they now have the right to ask their employers for flexible work. Sadly, it doesn’t. Since 2003, 19% of eligible mothers and 10% of eligible fathers have requested flexible hours, but employers (who have the right to say no) still view men’s requests less favourably. This reflects and reinforces the idea that women should put their children first and accept second-class status at work. It also dooms men, especially family men, to work the longest hours in Europe. And for what? According to calculations by the accountants Grant Thornton, many middle-class households can expect to see half their income disappear in taxes, either when they earn it or when they spend it. According to Ernst & Young, rises in income have not matched rising energy costs and council taxes, making Britain’s families 10% worse off than they were four years ago. So even if some can afford flexible work and the penalties it brings, reducing working hours is not an option for most of us. And still the government bangs on about parenting standards. When, I ask, are we to practise what they preach? How dare they preach at all? Their own record on childcare – I’m sorry, but this makes me angry – is a disgrace. Almost a decade after the glittering launch of its National Childcare Strategy, there is still only one registered place for every four children under eight. Most of those places are private businesses, and half of all nurseries fail. As the government’s own inspectors have found, most existing nurseries offer substandard care.Childcare costs continue to be prohibitive. The Daycare Trust’s 2005 survey found that the typical cost of a full-time place with a childminder was £127 a week, or over £6,600 a year. A full-time nursery place for a child under two was £141 a week in England, or £7,300 annually. In some parts of the country it was £18,000. This may explain why 42% of lone parents actively seeking work say the scarcity or cost of childcare prevents them getting a job.Though Gordon Brown has seemed to offer generous support to Sure Start (integrated child centres), the people on the ground say it doesn’t begin to cover its expansion costs. There are, in addition, concerns about his emphasis on urban areas, which means there is very little help on offer for the also deserving rural poor. And though Brown’s much-vaunted tax credits have made a real difference for many lower-income families, they are so complicated and so hard to calculate, even the Treasury seems to have trouble understanding how they work. There have been serious cockups, with the Treasury’s computers overpaying almost 2m families an average of £1,000 in tax credits, then, without prior notice, clawing the money back, forcing many of those families to live on food parcels. The Child Support Agency (CSA), founded under Thatcher to make nonresident fathers pay for their children’s support, was this year announced to be “under review” for the third time in its 13-year existence, having clocked up £3.4 billion in unrecovered payments. We are now assured it is to be scrapped and replaced with a more “streamlined” body. But yet again, the details are still to be disclosed.Which brings us to the D-word – yet another abject failure. Though officially committed to shared parenting after separation and divorce, and fully aware that our family court system is a disaster – exacerbating conflicts between parents, creating conflicts where none existed, and often permanently excluding one parent, generally the father, for reasons anybody who was not a judge or a family court welfare officer would call capricious – the government has changed nothing. It has commissioned a few reports and pilot projects and left it at that. Meanwhile, families continue to travel through this discredited system at the rate of 80,000 a year. If we calculate that the average family includes two children, we can see that family courts affect the lives of a quarter of a million men, women and children annually, and often adversely. Not a very good deal, then, this family business. In a poll of over 2,000 adults last October, the EOC found that nearly three out of five thought it was harder for working women to balance work and family life than 30 years ago. Over half of men aged 35-44 thought it was harder for men. This may explain why our birth rate is falling. At 1.8 per woman, it is not at its lowest point ever, and is by no means the lowest in Europe (that honour goes to Germany, where only 700,000 babies were born last year, in a population of around 80m), but is well below replacement rate. Half a century ago, only 10% of women reached the end of their fertile lives without bearing children. Now that has doubled. It is sure to rise.A recent Guardian/ICM poll found that 64% of men and 51% of women thought that it was more important for women to “enjoy themselves” than to have children. Only 32% said bringing up children was more important than material success. Sixty-one per cent of men and women said that living comfortably was more important than having children. When asked what put them off the idea of having children, 63% cited the career demands and the difficulty of balancing these with family life, and 54% cited the high and rising costs. These views are in line with those measured in other European countries with declining birth rates. Wherever it is hard for parents to combine work and family, fewer and fewer even want to try.But even the men and women who decide to forgo families may find themselves obliged to care for their parents. And if they don’t? For one thing, they should give up all hope of inheriting the family home. The government will want it sold to pay for the substandard care it will provide in their stead. The government’s record on elder-care is even worse than it is on childcare. But if you asked me where its greatest failure is, I would have to say education.I say this even though two of my children went through the system during the 1980s and 90s, and were not (in my view) well served by the Tories. But I have two younger children who started school around the same time Blair came into office. And I teach at Warwick University, where for 10 years now I have been asked to bend and twist as the government exercises its will from on high. I see the same patterns in my children’s schools. Blair inherited a system fraught with problems, and his policies have exacerbated all of them, first by bombarding teachers at every level of the system with targets that do not take into account what we actually do, then by forcing us to assess our students and ourselves by quality-assurance standards that were designed – and I mean it literally this time – for factories. If we fail to fashion ourselves into the right sort of worker, turning out the right sort of product, we are severely punished.But at least I’m never asked to turn around and punish my students’ parents. This is what teachers at primary and secondary level are now expected to do. It began in the late 1990s with home-school contracts. Before long, parents were being prosecuted and even jailed for failing to stop their children playing truant. Under the new education bill, parents who fail to keep children excluded for five days or less, under lock and key at home, even if they are single and in employment, will face the same sanctions.This government has vastly expanded its repertoire of punishments for parents it deems to be substandard. It has at the same time convinced people that such parents must be dealt with harshly because they refused earlier offers of help. In fact, and contrary to the spin generated by an endless parade of initiatives, pilots and taskforces, there are huge swathes of the country where there is no help whatsover for parents struggling with difficult or distressed children.Here we come to new Labour’s strangest and most fatal flaw: it trashes its own programmes. By this I mean it sets up or underwrites parent-support organisations which it presents to the nation at glitzy launches, then forgets. Or if it doesn’t forget them, it grossly underfunds them, so all they can do is operate a modest website. Let me describe a few of these for you. Since its inception seven years ago, the government-funded National Family and Parenting Institute (NFPI) has been working hard to gather together all academics, professionals, and activists concerned with family policy to discuss best practice. It has fostered and disseminated research, so anything the government does, it can do on the basis of solid evidence. It has also engaged with parents, reflecting their views back to government, and arguing for policies that meet parents’ needs. During the same period, the EOC has campaigned tirelessly for an end to the pay gap, mothers’ and fathers’ rights at home as well as in the workplace, and pension reform.



Final year history undergraduates at the University of Bristol have complained after learning that they will have only two hours of lecture time a week. The students who paid 1,200 pounds each in tuition fees claim that they are not getting value for money as each class they attend will cost the equivalent of 20 pounds an hour.

With students who started courses this year now paying fees of 3,000 pounds, universities are bracing themselves for similar complaints from students and parents, who want to see the extra fee income spent on increased contact time with lecturers and smaller class sizes.

Huge variations in the number of teaching hours of academics in different disciplines were revealed in a report last week by the Higher Education Policy Institute. Students in medicine and dentistry have the highest number of contact hours at 21.4 hours a week, but teaching time is as low as eight hours a week in subjects such as history and philosophical studies.

The University of Bristol claims its new history timetable has been designed to allow time for "independent learning" and says students should be doing independent research rather than sitting in class. But Steven Hayes, 20, from Birmingham, said: "When I saw the two hours on my timetable I was shocked. It really does make one wonder whether to commute for those two hours a week." Another student told the university's newspaper Epigram: "I thought I was paying to be educated by leading academics, not for a library membership and a reading list."

When the 100 students applied for the history degree course they were told there would be a minimum of six hours a week tuition in the final year. They found out that had been reduced by two-thirds when they were handed their timetables last month. In the first two years they received between seven and nine hours of class time but the third year was designated as being "research led".

Teachers at the department claim the changes were made after "considerable consideration with students, staff and leading historians from other universities". Dr Brendan Smith, head of history, said: "The new syllabus has been introduced at a time when pressures on resources are incredible and we have to make decisions about which forms of teaching will be most stimulating and effective."

Students say they chose the University of Bristol because it offered more structured teaching than Oxford or Cambridge.


U.K.: Exams watchdogs bid to remove World Wars from curriculum sparks outrage

Exams watchdogs have been accused of drawing up plans to allow schools to drop the two world wars from history lessons. They want teachers to cut back on world history in a drive to improve pupils' performance in the three Rs. But Government exams chiefs stood accused yesterday of indicating to schools they will be allowed to ditch the first and second world wars altogether.

The proposal from the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority, which emerged just three days before Remembrance Sunday, provoked furious and widespread condemnation from war veterans, historians and politicians from all parties. Education Secretary Alan Johnson said the plan must be "stamped on" immediately. He said he had heard reports that the QCA intended to allow teachers to drop the wars from the syllabus. He went on: "If it is an idea anywhere - and I have heard the same rumours - it needs to be squashed pretty quickly and I will make sure I do that."

However the Government itself faced criticism for ordering the secondary school curriculum to be slimmed down in the first place. Ministers had asked the QCA to trim the content of crucial subjects to give teachers more time to run catch-up classes for pupils still lacking basic skills. Planned changes for history involve specifically highlighting the British Empire to try to reverse years of neglect of the subject. But guidance on other British, European and world events would be slashed.

According to drafts produced earlier this year, studies on six compulsory periods of time would be replaced with an emphasis on themes running throughout time. Pupils currently study mandatory units including one headed "The World after 1900", which covers World War I, World War II, the Holocaust, the Cold War and the Vietnam War. But the planned guidance shown to some schools failed to specifically mention the world wars. One teacher said: "It is very British-centric. It does not mention world and European history at all."

In designing the shake-up of lessons for 11 to 14-year-olds, the QCA is acting on ministers' concerns that teachers are not left enough time to ensure pupils are mastering English and maths. The QCA has previously said that schools are concentrating too much on teaching about "Hitler and Henry" and should broaden their pupils' knowledge in history.

But now Mr Johnson has moved to slap down the QCA for apparently going too far. Asked about the reports at a Westminster lunch, he said: "I've heard the same thing and if this is an idea that the QCA are developing or anyone else we should make sure that it is stamped on very quickly. "We need to have the two 20th century world wars as part of our curriculum. "We need it not just because we are wearing poppies and coming up to Remembrance Sunday and they need to know what they are remembering, which I think is crucial and very important. "But I think also because it is a crucial part of where we are now...if you think of how the European Union developed out of the conflict of two world wars of the 20th century and it is so relevant to everything that we do in this country now. "If it is an idea anywhere - and I have heard the same rumours - it needs to be squashed pretty quickly and I will make sure I do that."

However veterans' groups expressed dismay and outrage that dropping the two world wars from compulsory studies was even being considered. Bill Bond, founder of the Battle of Britain Historical Society, said: "This is really very, very sad and also very dangerous. You can't learn from mistakes if you don't know about them. "If young people are not taught about mistakes that were made these mistakes will get made again. For example, the rise of fascism. Young people may not even know what the word means. "History is an easy target when it comes to cutting down but this is nonsense. We should be teaching the basics as a matter of course but history with it."

The QCA last night denied planning to drop the world wars from the curriculum. In a statement, it said: "The QCA has not given advice to the Secretary of State on this matter. "The two world wars are a significant part of the curriculum in history and they will always be an important part of classroom teaching. There are no plans to change this. It appears some people have been misinformed." A spokesman added: "The world wars will be in there but it is premature to say exactly where in programmes of study." New draft syllabuses are due out early next year.


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