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Keep Isambard Kingdom Brunel on the primary school curriculum say Gloucestershire historians

By Gloucestershire Echo  |  Posted: February 07, 2013

Isambard Kingdom Brunel

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KEEP Brunel in the classroom, say Gloucestershire history enthusiasts – and children.

History teaching in primary schools is currently being reviewed by the Government.

Fears have been voiced that Victorian icons such as Isambard Kingdom Brunel could be dropped from the curriculum.

The Victorian engineer and designer played a large part in the county's fortunes in the early 20th century. And he is a great role model for youngsters, said Stroud historian Ian Mackintosh.

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"He's the archetype of a brilliant engineer," said Mr Mackintosh, of Stroudwater Textile Trust.

"With the Government planning to raise awareness of the importance of industry and engineering, we surely should be encouraging something that stimulates young people's minds in that field."

Gloucestershire has a special interest in the achievements of Brunel, which include the construction of the Great Western Railway branch line to Cheltenham, and stations at Stroud and Cirencester.

"I do very much hope that teachers are not being pointed in the direction of teaching about kings and queens, when it comes to learning about history, but are encouraged to teach awareness about the ways wealth was created in this country," said Mr Mackintosh.

Torin Dunn, seven, has been learning about Isambard Kingdom Brunel with his class at Rodborough Primary School in Stroud as part of a Travel and Trade history project.

"It's great to find out new things and about who made them," he said.

Torin's class visited Brunel's steamship, the SS Great Britain in Bristol.

"If you go to the SS Great Britain, along the river gorge you can see the suspension bridge Brunel built," said Torin. "I like learning about Brunel because there's always another thing to learn about him. There's so much detail in all the things he made and always something else to notice."

A leaked draft of the new history curriculum reportedly does not include Victorian figures, although it is likely schools will be able to choose their own history topics.

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  • Justica  |  February 07 2013, 6:48PM

    Brunel was a fascinating man and was voted amongst the top 10 Britons. His achievements have lived on as an inspiration and besides learning about him at school, frequent visits to SS Great Britain in Bristol during renovation carried it on. I'm sure schoolchildren today would also find him a great example of British engineering skill.

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  • Coingrass  |  February 07 2013, 6:41PM

    Or they could be inspired by someone something more modern such as Sir Frank Whittle and Concorde and take a trip around Rolls Royce at Filton and if you want bridges, check out either of the Severn bridges. Or the legendary Sir Frank Williams and the Grand Prix racing car with a visit to one of the eight Formula One teams based in the UK. Or they could just concentrate on mastering the three Rs to give themselves the best chance of achieving their dreams.

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