The suggestion of Prime Minister Rishi Sunak that children should learn maths until the age of 18 was widely derided.

But perhaps the PM just got the wrong subject, maybe they should learn history.

Indeed, learning history really does need to be a lifelong process, not just ending at 18.

The teaching of this crucial subject has for so long centred on the kings and queens of England, rather than the plight of working people. Nor has the brutality of the British Empire across the world had much of an airing.

Things have improved over recent years, with the likes of the slave trade getting onto the curriculum, but there is still a long way to go.

Recently, reading accounts of life in the early part of the 20th century - the struggles of working people just to survive, the brutality meted out by a Liberal government to the suffragettes and Irish nationalists - it was striking to realise how hidden this history has become.

Everyone should know about the botched job made of Indian independence, ensuring a bloodbath ensued from the clumsy partition process. Indeed, the problems caused by British partitioning across the world.

If the true brutality of much that has gone on at home and abroad were taught, then the false shibboleths that have taken shape over the years may be more easily dismissed. These include the view that the British Empire was a good thing, a civilising force for humanity.

More recently this version of history had plucky Britain winning the Second World War, pretty much alone. The role of the US and Russia is relegated to the sidelines.

Unfortunately, many seem (and want) to believe this falsification of the past - it was something that the campaign to leave the EU was able to plug into. The truth that Britain was a declining country, whose power was magnified by it being part of the larger EU block, was lost. Now, we are all paying the price.

History is so important because it is only by understanding the past that the mistakes made then can be avoided in the future.

A proper teaching of history, beyond the fate of the privileged monarchs, would do much to ensure a better informed, so more progressive country.

  • Paul Donovan is a Redbridge Labour councillor for Wanstead village and blogger. See