Headmaster’s Notes: Learning the past to prepare for the future 

25th March 22

I have been following with interest the tour of Belize and Jamaica by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, where Prince William expressed his profound sorrow over the slave trade.

As a former Head of History, I am aware that any controversy surrounding history and its teaching is not new. The Duke of Cambridge has reminded us that there is a need for realism about some of the iniquities of a colonial past but we equally recognise that there is much to be proud of in our nation’s history.

Enjoying the flexibility in our History curriculum at Prince’s Mead allows us to go beyond traditional ‘units of work’ to offer a significantly broader view of the Anglo-Saxons, the Romans and the abolition of slavery, to name but a few, and to encourage a wider understanding of different peoples and cultures. Exploring the past, as Year 4 pupils with such flair in Friday Prayers this morning, is valuable in itself for our children, not for purposes of admission of guilt or indeed celebration, but for knowledge. Year 6 have learned with their visit to the Imperial War Museum today that history is no longer that permanent body of knowledge to simply learn but, taught properly, it offers our young historians a method of inquiry and a set of skills for analysing and interpreting evidence to answer those critical questions related to the past.

The questions that societies want to ask of today will inevitably continue to evolve over the 100 years we anticipate our children will live. Equipped with the essential skills learned through the study of History, our ambition is that children at Prince’s Mead will grow up more tolerant and understanding of different perspectives and prepared to debate the issues not dissimilar to those raised by the Duke of Cambridge this week.

Wishing you all a most relaxing weekend, particularly to our mothers this Sunday.