History matters. Most intelligent adults, no matter how limited their education, understand that. Even if they have never formally studied the subject, they are likely to take an interest in historical topics. Historians on television – notably Simon Schama and David Starkey – draw big audiences (the book of Schama’s History of Britain sold more than a million copies). Military historians who have become household names in recent years include Richard Holmes and Anthony Beevor. And journalists such as Andrew Marr, Jeremy Paxman and David Dimbleby have also been highly successful in reaching a mass audience with historical material.
History, it might be said, has never been more popular. Yet there is a painful paradox at the very same time: that it has never been less popular in British schools.