“Welsh pupils know more about Nazi Germany than they do Wales”

Cardiff University historian, Dr Marion Löffler believes new curriculum will be a step towards a more inclusive Wales.

Cardiff Castle boasts 2000 years of history, in the heart of the Welsh capital.

Welsh students know more about Stalin’s Russia and Nazi Germany than their own history, according to a Cardiff academic.  

Cardiff University historian Dr Marion Löffler says that recently introduced plans to make Welsh history mandatory in the school will allow students to know more about their own country and heritage. 

“In Cardiff University we have students who have studied Stalin, Nazi Germany, and Apartheid, but they know nothing of the history of Wales as a nation, and this new curriculum seeks to remedy this,” said Dr. Löffler 

The new curriculum, developed  by Plaid Cymru, the Welsh Nationalist party, in tandem with the Welsh government, will provide a diverse history that moves away from the colonial British syllabus.

It will examine Welsh history objectively, giving a voice to minorities: Irish immigrants in the mining areas, Welsh Roma and people who migrated from the colonies.

Dr Marion Löffler, believes the new diverse all-inclusive Welsh history curriculum is a positive.

“We must also look at decolonising our own Welsh history internally to make it a diverse history for everyone,” said Dr Löffler. 

“Absolutely it is a good thing, it must be a good thing for the children of Ireland to learn about their history, or the children of Sri Lanka, as opposed to learning about British imperialist history,” she said.

“You have to look at your past, and think where have we gone wrong, to build a better more inclusive future and I think that is what this new curriculum is trying to achieve,” she explained.

Dr Löffler referenced one element of the curriculum, being “cynefin”, which refers to the locality where one fits in. It is a concept that she believes will connect students to their own history.

Last year she ran a civic mission, where she brought 17 students from the Valleys to the National Library, where they held an exhibition of documents from the Merthyr Tydfil riots of the 1800s.

Betty Campbell was Wales’ first black headmaster and a champion of multiculturalism.

“This gave the pupils an insight into their own community, their own history,  which they had never had before and that’s what the new Welsh curriculum attempts to do for schools,” she explained. 

The demise of Welsh history and language in schools began under the 1870 education reform act in which education was to be carried out purely through the medium of English and speaking Welsh was met with punishment.

The curriculum change has been accelerated by the BLM movement, as well as the work of heritage consultant Marion Gwyn, who collected material about Wales’ connection to the slave trade, which influenced the government’s anti-racism plan.

“This history curriculum is trying to contribute to a Wales that is inclusive, that is open to everyone, where learning Welsh and learning about Wales is a right for every child,” Dr. Löffler said.