Less intelligent pupils barred from taking history

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Rising numbers of teachers are barring less intelligent pupils from taking GCSEs in history amid fears they will damage the school’s league table ranking, according to research by The Historical Association.

Children in lower sets are being steered away from the subject between the age of 14 and 16 to prevent them dragging down the overall GCSE pass rate, it was claimed.

The survey by The Historical Association found that the number of schools barring some pupils from history had increased by around a quarter in the last 12 months and more than doubled over a two-year period.

The conclusions – published in the latest edition of the BBC History Magazine – come amid pressure on schools to boost their results in the face of tough new floor targets imposed by the Government.

But the Department for Education dismissed the findings as "simply not true", insisting that entries for GCSE history were actually at a 16-year high in 2013, with pupil numbers increasing by 17 per cent in 12 months.

The Historical Association surveyed 450 secondary schools in England – around one-in-seven of the total – as part of research into attitudes towards history.

It found that 39 per cent either turned down requests by some pupils to study history or prevented entire classes or sets from taking a GCSE.

This was almost two-and-a-half times the 16 per cent figure exposed in the association’s 2011 survey, it emerged. The number was also up on the 31 per cent recorded in 2012.

The study also showed that state comprehensives were far more likely to bar pupils than selective grammar schools. Some 14 per cent of grammars imposed restrictions compared with 38 per cent of comprehensives, it was claimed.

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