GCSE students are to be taught that some of our nation’s earliest inhabitants were Africans who arrived here long before the English.
The Mail on Sunday has discovered that the extraordinary rewriting of our island’s history – the politically correct work of a Marxist academic – will be offered to thousands of history students throughout England from September.
Its creators claim the course addresses the ‘white male-dominated’ view of history – but it has outraged some of Britain’s most eminent thinkers.
Booker and Nobel prize-winning novelist V.S. Naipaul said: ‘Once again political correctness is distorting our history and the education of our children.’
And historian Sir Roy Strong, author of The Story Of Britain, said: ‘This stands history on its head, projecting back on to the past something that isn’t true.’
The ‘Africans in Britain’ quotation is the opening line of a key book on the course reading list by a Marxist historian and refers to a Roman legion of North Africans briefly stationed on Hadrian’s Wall in the 3rd Century, before the arrival of Anglo-Saxons.
Up to 500 ‘Aurelian’ Moors – named in honour of Emperor Marcus Aurelius, popularised in the film Gladiator – manned a fort near Carlisle.
But there is no evidence they ever settled there.
Offered by the Oxford and Cambridge examination board (OCR) and approved for use in schools, the course literature states: ‘This course will enable students to learn how the movement of people – European, African, Asian – to and from these islands has shaped the story of this nation for thousands of years.
‘The history of migration is the story of Britain: in 1984, Peter Fryer wrote, “There were Africans in Britain before the English came.” ’
The course – Migration To Britain c. 1,000 to c. 2010 – was created with academics from the Black and Asian Studies Association but has been condemned as ‘pro-immigration propaganda’ at a time when the subject is especially sensitive.
Last night, eminent military historian and author Antony Beevor said: ‘Migration is a very valid area to study, but if it’s a question of rewriting history to bolster the morale of certain sections of the population, rather than a scrupulous attitude towards facts, then that is a total distortion and it’s outrageous.’
It’s projecting back on to the past something that isn’t true
SIR ROY STRONG, HISTORIAN
Sir Roy Strong said: ‘The only Africans who came here were a few with the Romans who came and then left! I find it disturbing that our children should be taught something that is clearly designed to feed into contemporary problems rather than tell our island’s story properly.’
V. S. Naipaul added: ‘This absurd supposition of Africans inhabiting Britain before the English only goes to show how our once esteemed centres of learning, Oxford and Cambridge, have been insidiously eroded by a dangerous dogma that, very like IS today, wrought misery and havoc in Russia, China and the Eastern bloc, where for all practical purposes it has failed.’
Although the new course takes its starting point as the Middle Ages, one section is headed ‘Population diversity in England before 1066’.
Professor Alan Smithers, of Buckingham University, a specialist adviser to the Commons Education Committee, said: ‘This seems to be aimed more at indoctrination than education. It is dangerous because a cohesive society depends on an authentic shared view of history.’
And Campaign for Real Education chairman Chris McGovern said: ‘The country is being sold down the river by the politically correct brigade and national identity sacrificed for minority groups to feel included. It’s pro-immigration propaganda.’
But Professor Mark Ormrod, of York University, one of the historians researching the new topic, said: ‘It is an outstanding example of how a long view of history helps us to understand and to find a place for ourselves in contemporary society.
‘Our research project shows how, for example, in the late Middle Ages, no one was more than ten miles from an immigrant.’
Mike Goddard, head of history at OCR, said: ‘There is no political bias. The GCSE will present facts. It is not pushing any particular argument.’
And Martin Spafford, of BASA’s education committee, stressed that ‘students will hear both positive and negative views about migration. It’s been a controversial subject and we don’t shy away from that’.
The Department for Education said: ‘The law is crystal clear – all political discussions in schools should be unbiased and balanced.’