The History Teachers' Association of Ireland
Cumann Múinteoirí Staire na hÉireann

Representing Teachers Throughout Ireland

Threat To School History

H.T.A.I. is very concerned that proposals outlined in the Framework Document, published by the Minister for Education and Skills, will result in the removal of History from the core of subjects for the Junior Cert., where it has been for the vast majority of students since the foundation of the state.

Latest News

Minister insists history won’t be forgotten
Katherine Donnelly Education Editor, Irish Independent – 19 September 2013

“Arising from the NCCA Report “Towards a Framework for the Junior Cycle” to ask  the Minster for Education to assure Seanad Éireann that History will be reinstated as a core subject for the Junior Certificate”[Independent Senators – Taoiseach’s Nominees]
Seanad Éireann Private Members Business, 16.45, 18th September, 2013
Transcript >>

Compulsory history, an anathema
Prof Tom Collins is former president of NUI Maynooth and chair of the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment, Irish Times, 18th September, 2013


Irish history- will it be understood in the future?

The Irish Post, 12th September, 2013


Don’t throw the stories of our past away
Doireann Ní Bhriain, Irish Times, 7th September, 2013

‘Lest we forget to ask hard questions
John Paul McCarthy, Sunday Independent, 26th August, 2013


The Future of History – Are we teaching the Kids to forget the Past?
Ciaran Brady, Professor of Early Modern History and Historiography, TCD, in conversation with Professor Diarmaid Ferriter, UCD (The Right Hook, Newstalk, 19th August, 2013
Listen to Interview >>

Removing history, as a compulsory subject from the proposed new junior cycle should be opposed
Patrick Nulty, TD, Dublin West, 14th August 2013


Dropping compulsory history is ‘a devastatingly bad’ idea
Patrick Wallace, former Director of the National Museum of Ireland, Parnell Summer School, 12th Augus, 2013

History students will no longer tolerate or believe grand narratives
Ireland has torn itself apart in the name of a single view of history a history filled with myth and prejudice, rather than scrutinised with irony and intelligence
Colm Tóibín,
The Guardian, Saturday 10 August 2013

Teaching of history is no longer stuck in the past, so let’s not leave it there
Ciaran Brady, Professor of Early Modern History and Historiography, TCD, Ir ish Independent, 7 August, 2013

Quinn takes aim at historians over Junior Cert criticism
Irish Independent, 2nd August, 2013


History must be valued but it also has to be taught well
Editorial, Irish Independent, 2nd August, 2013


Address by Ruairí Quinn, TD, Minister for Education and Skills at the MacGill Summer School, 1st August …
‘My view is that, wherever possible, choices need to be made by students and by schools. Those choices should be supported by the state. Much of the discourse in this space is dominated by supporters of one particular subject – history’. …
… ‘Historians owe a duty to the country to show why their domain of knowledge matters (and it does), and why 12 year olds and their parents should take heed. Historians must advocate, argue and defend. But the target of their discourse should not be the state.
Their conversations should be with the students who matter, and their parents.
They should seek to influence, not to coerce’.


Dáil Questions,4th July, Deputy Patrick Nulty to Deputy Ciarán Cannon (replying on behalf of the Minister for Education and Skills, Deputy Quinn). in his reply he stated … Curriculum choice is an important factor in motivating students to learn and in encouraging them to remain in school to the completion of the senior cycle. ….
The role of history in the new junior cycle will be balanced against the contribution of the other subjects in enabling students to engage with a new broad and enriched junior cycle programme that meets the requirements of the principle statements of learning and key skills.

Dáil Questions, 3rd July, Deputy Maureen O’Sullivan to Minister Ruairí Quinn. in his reply he stated …
‘I am sympathetic to the study of history right through to sixth year

‘What the History Teachers Association of Ireland should do is engage actively with the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment to discuss how their concerns can be addressed within the new curriculum’.

The History Teachers Association of Ireland certainly has articulated these concerns and all I would say to those teachers is to engage productively with the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment, NCCA, to work with it and to ensure the core values of an historical education are retained within the new curricular development. While I do not believe there is any conflict there at all, I recognise many teachers are fearful and I wish to address those fears’.

Joint Committee on Education and Skills

The Association made a very successful presentation to the  meeting of the Joint Committee on Education and Skills on Wednesday 12 June 2013 in Committee Room 3 at 1.00.p.m.
The Topic under discussion – New Changes to Junior Cert Curriculum [History Teachers Association of Ireland and Department of Education and Skills]

HTAI delegates: Gerard Hanlon,
Niamh Crowley, Granú Dwyer
together with Professor Diarmaid Ferriter, UCD and Ms Catriona Crowe, National Archives.

Media Coverage

Archived reports and recent researchthreattohistory

Decade of Commemorations … Seanad debate 7 June 2012

Presentation for Principals and Deputy Principals, Framework Document, Spring 2013

The following slide, ( p. 44) is an illustration of a timetabling option from the DES site, :

Example of Programme_ Student 2

8 Subjects + 4 short courses [different combinations possible]

Subjects: English, Irish, Maths, Science

Options: History or French or Business Studies ………. [other options]

Short Courses: Basic French or Local Studies or Programming / Coding .……… [other options]. READ MORE

A Framework Document for Junior Cycle, October, 2012in

The hardcopy of the document reached the schools March, 2013. The following are some of the relevant highlights:

English, Mathematics and Irish will feature … for all students ….

Schools will have flexibility when including other subjects in their programme ….

the amount of time devoted to a subject can vary from school to school ….

Schools will have flexibility regarding when they will offer junior cycle subjects and the sequence in which they will offer them. READ MORE.

Minister’s announcement, 3rd November, 2011

The report from the N.C.C.A., was accepted by the Minister. In the press release of (as published on the DES website), he alludes to the disquiet of History teachers….

  • I am also aware the History and Geography teachers have shown some disquiet about their subjects under the new dispensation, and I note the geographical and historical awareness skills have been included in the 24 statements of essential learning.  That is to say that these skills will be required in order to achieve the required outcomes.
  • Good and enthusiastic teachers in History and Geography have the opportunity to inspire a real interest in their subject and so ensure that pupils will want to sit the exam. READ MORE.

NCCA response, 3rd November, 2011

The NCCA also published their response to the Minister’s decision. This press releaes outlines the key features of the new proposals. In brief
Irish, English and Mathematics form a compulsory core.

A cap of eight subjects which can be taken for assessment for qualification purposes.

All students will be required to cover 24 statements of essential learning which are focused on such areas as communications, language, mathematical concepts, critical thinking, citizenship and sustainable values, environmental, economic and social knowledge, consumer skills, ICT, creating and appreciating art, valuing local and national heritage and recognising the relevance of the past to the current national and international issues, well being, and ethical and responsible decision-making.

Towards a Framework Document for Junior Cycle, 2011

NCCA document >>

HTAI Delegation meeting with Minister for Education and Skills, 4 April, 2012

HTAI National Seminar, Collins Barracks,Dublin, 23rd March 2013:
“Will School History survive the “Decade of Commemorations”?


National Seminar, Collins Barracks,Dublin, 23rd March 2013: Will School History survive the “Decade of Commemorations”?

Should we make kids learn History?
George Hook’s Interview with Christian O’Conchuir, history teacher, St. Mary’s Secondary School, Mallow, Co. Cork (Wed, May 8th, 2013)

George Hook’s Interview with Minister Quinn
The Right Hook (Thurs, May 9th, 2013):

Off the Shelf, Saturday, 30th November 2012: The Right Kind of History
Diarmaid Ferriter, Ciarán Brady and Deirdre MacMathúna discuss The Right Kind of History: Teaching the Past in Twentieth-Century England by David Cannadine (RTÉ podcast).

Conference 2011 Podcast
Keynote Address, Why History Matters – Gearóid Ó Tuathaigh, Emeritus Professor of History, NUI Galway.

Conference 2011: The History Show
Professor Diarmaid Ferriter interviews the Minister for Education and Skills, Ruairí Quinn, T.D, Sunday, 2nd October, 2011 (RTÉ podcast).

Press releases>>

‘The Historical Record’

In 1996, the then Mnister for Education, Niamh Breathnach, published a White Paper on education, Charting Our Educational Future.

These proposals would have resulted in history being removed as a core subject at Junior Certificate.

HTAI immediately initiated a campaign to reverse that decision and alert the public to the implications for our society.

A vigorous national discourse ensued which involved numerous letters to the newspapers, television and radio programmes, newspaper articles.

A landmark debate (spread over two sessions) took place in the Dáli.
The Minister reversed her decision and history remains a core subject in the Junior Certificate.

From our archives

Currently, we are publishing a short selection of articles from that period..

Click on link to read full articles:

The Dáil Debates, May 1996

Below is a representative selection of the views expressed in the sessions of Private Members’ Business on the 28th and 29th, May.

They said….
‘History is a broadly based subject. It is extremely important for any society to know about its past and to preserve its cultural and linguistic heritage. It is more important for countries such as Ireland where the preservation of cultural identity is very important given that to a certain degree we have lost our linguistic identity’
Micheál Martin, FF
Read full contribution
Creidim go bhfuil siad an-thábhachtach ó thaobh na saorántachta de agus ó thaobh na ndaoine óga atá ag fás suas inniu má tá freagracht le bheith sa saol poiblí agus i saol pearsanta an duine.
Trevor Sargent, Green Party
Read full contribution

Knowledge of the past is the key to unlocking the puzzles of the future. It enables us to understand — and at times of conflict understanding is important — and, perhaps, resolve conflicts. It gives an edge to our analysis of social, economics and political issues.
Kathleen Lynch, Labour Party
Read full contribution

Education is a discipline and I know of none that is better than the discipline of history well taught. What is the methodology of teaching history and what does history do for people? It teaches them to evaluate facts, to separate them from opinions and fiction and to make a judgment on what is true and what is false. Is that not one of the most [601] important gifts
Maureen Quill, PD
Read full contribution

The study of history and geography provides opportunities for pupils to develop the skills of researching, locating, storing and retrieving information …… the position of history and geography in the broader [605] second level curriculum will be copper-fastened and expanded.
Bernard Allen, FG, Minister Of State
Read full contribution

Dáil Éireann Debate 1996
Private Members’ Business. – Junior Certificate Curriculum: Motion.
Read full Debate, Wednesday, 29 May 1996

History as part of the compulsory core syllabus in high performing jurisdictions

Click on links below to read the full articles:

Literacy and Numeracy in History

Click on link below to read the full article:

‘Why History Matters’

The CHANCELLOR OF the National University of Ireland, Dr Maurice Manning chairs a group of leading authors and academics set up to advise the Government on centenary commemorations of major events from the period 1912-1916. Dr Manning said the principal role would be to advise the Government and the all-party Oireachtas group on the overall commemorative programme and many specific issues: “In particular, it will seek to set a tone that is inclusive and non-triumphalist, ensuring authenticity, proportionality and openness.” (Irish Times, 7th March, 2012)
Both An Taoiseach and the Minister for Education and Skills have commented on the importance and role of history in the life of the citizen.

Fintan O’Toole, the Irish Examiner articles and most recently, Professor Diarmaid Ferriter,reflect the concerns of teachers, regarding the uncertain status history in our schools

in the forthcoming proposals for the Junior Certificate. See Minister Quinn’s response.

Click on the links below to read the full articles.

“Historians must advocate, argue and defend. But the target of their discourse should not be the State. Their conversations should be with the students, who matter, and their parents. “They should seek to influence, not to coerce”.
Minister for Education and Skills, Ruairí Quinn, T.D, Irish Independent, 2nd August, 2013…”Historians are more apt to side with the French thinker Jacques Barzun, who said: “The student who learns history will unconsciously develop what is the highest value of history: judgment in worldly affairs.”
Editorial, Irish Independent, 2nd August, 2013‘Fearann cogaidh na staireIs den riachtanas é go mbeadh an stair mar ábhar oideachais’
Alan Titley, Ollamh Emeritus le Nua Ghaeilge, COC, Irish Times, 17 Iúil 2013‘Eamon de Valera? Did he play forBarcelona?’Teachers claim students will grow up ignorant of geography and history under Ruairi Quinn’s plans >>
Kim Bielenberg, Irish Independent, 1st May 2013‘In this golden age, let’s not throw away our history….. The new Junior Cert syllabus, mistakenly, is set to downgrade the study of our past’
Fintan O’Toole, Irish Times, 20th April, 2013‘WHAT RUAIRI QUINN DID NOT SAY!!’
Cork branch’s response , 19th April 2013 to Minister Quinn’s article

‘… History has a very bright future in our Junior Cert classrooms.Minister for Education and Skills, Ruairí Quinn, T.D, Irish Independent, 13th April 2013

‘Mr Quinn, please don’t be the one to bring about the end of history’Diarmaid Ferriter ,Professor of Modern Irish History, UCD, Irish Independent, 23rd March 2013

‘…Instead of removing history from the junior cycle, the Government should make it compulsory up to the end of secondary schooling…..’
Catriona Crowe, head of special projects at the National Archives of Ireland, Irish Times, June 9, 2012

‘A commitment to comprehensive, contextual treatment of the period means a casting aside of preconception and a fresh-eyed read of the events of that decade [1912 – 1922].’

Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Jimmy Deenihan, Launch of Irish Times supplement, 25th April, 2012No history, no future?

Elma Collins, History Ireland, Nov/Dec. 2011‘CULTURE SHOCK: HISTORY MATTERS IN IRELAND, not least because the past is so unsettled.’

Fintan O’Toole, Irish Times, 10th September, 2011‘Understanding history is how we try to reach the future without repeating the calamities of the past’

Irish Examiner editorial, 3rd September, 2011‘the more we understand the past, the more we understand ourselves and our neighbours.’ 

Minister for Education and Skills, Ruairí Quinn, T.D, Celtic Congress, 1st August, 2011‘As we move into the decade of commemorations that stretch before us, from the 100th anniversary of the Third Home Rule Bill ….. 1916, the Somme, and beyond it is imperative that the social, cultural, economic, administrative and political environments that shaped these events be understood.’




The Council of Europe and History

The Council of Europe has issued several reports on the significance and the learning of history.
They particularly emphasise the point ‘that historical awareness is an important civic skill’ and ‘that history teaching can be a tool to support peace and reconciliation’. Without these necessary skills, the individual is more vulnerable to political and other manipulation.’

Click on links below to read the full articles:

The European Schools – SCHOLA EUROPAEA

The European Schools are official educational establishments controlled jointly by the governments of the Member States of the European Union.
The secondary school course is validated by the European Baccalaureate examinations at the end of the seventh class , (c.18 years of age).
Classes 6 and 7 form a unit which leads to the European Baccalaureate. There is a core of compulsory subjects including mother tongue, Language 2, mathematics, a science, philosophy, physical education, history and geography. History syllabus >>

History for All ?: House of Commons Report, 2013

The report’s conclusions are based on the results of four separate evidence sessions, taken by the All Party Parliamentary Group on History and Archives. A wide range of history teachers and representatives from the historical community were consulted, as well as representatives from various exam boards.

The terms of reference for the inquiry were to examine the current state of History provision in schools, and to ask the question of whether History should be made compulsory for all pupils, up to the age of 16.

Some Key Recommendations
and Observations

2.we are concerned about the wide educational divide in this country when it comes to studying History, which is that in affluent areas History is studied well and widely, whereas in many more deprived areas it has been neglected and ignored. It is important that the Department for Education does not allow perverse incentives to develop, which might suppress the take-up of History in poorer areas.

6. There is also an issue in some schools of head teachers trimming the study of History to the absolute minimum, through poor understanding of how it differs from a core subject like Mathematics, in terms of National Curriculum levels. This can lead to an excessive focus on content, inhibiting understanding and maturity of thought.

7. We recommend investigating the development of a British history qualification at 16 that is based on a broad chronological framework across all periods, which could encompass local, national and international perspectives on British history

History for all? pdf

Ofsted Report, ‘History for All’, 2011

Since the publication of the report ( based on evidence from inspections of history between 2007 and March 2010) a debate has raged on the position of history in English schools. Certain trends have been noted, which may yet prove relevant to the Irish system, if history were to be removed as a core subject. The report noted:

‘In England, history is currently not compulsory for students beyond the age of 14 and those in schools offering a two-year Key Stage 3 course can stop studying history at the age of 13. In almost all the countries of the European Union, it is compulsory to study history in some form in school until at least the ages of 15 or 16. History is compulsory until the age of 14 in Northern Ireland, the Netherlands and Wales, and all pupils study history as part of their broad general education in Scotland until they are 15.”

History for all. pdf
Summary –
History for all. pdf

‘The study of History, a subject which should unite us as one nation, has now become the subject of two nations. In entire communities and schools, often in some of the most deprived areas of the country, the study of History has been shunned…… Compare this with our European counterparts, all of whom teach history in some form to 16, and it seems we sit isolated: Embarrassingly, Britain remains the only country apart from Albania where History is not compulsory beyond 14′. Chris Skidmore, M.P., March, 2012:

History in Schools- A School Report.pdf

The following newpaper articles and the Historical Association survey reflect many of the concerns highlighted in the report and pertinent to the current Irish debate:

Recent parliamentary debates in Britain on the role and importance of history in the curriculum

Click on links below to read the full articles:

UK Curriculum Review, 2011

Click on link below to read the full article: