Was King Aethelstan the first king of England, or has the National Curriculum got it wrong?

And come to that, does it really matter?

Certainly accuracy in history  matters in the sense that it is important that 1000 years ago England became united under one ruler: the start of the long journey ultimately to the United Kingdom and what we now call “British Values”.

But when the National Curriculum speaks at KS2 of “King Aethelstan, the first king of England” one might start to ask: is this really right?

Aethelstan ruled the whole of Britain for a brief period, but usage of the name “England” wouldn’t appear for another 100 years – and, before then, the land would again be split up amongst several Saxon/Viking kings.

Not only that, but Aethelstan wasn’t the first king to rule the entirety of the land now called England either – that accolade goes to the Saxon King Egbert, Aethelstan’s great-great-grandfather.

So when the National Curriculum is being a little less than fulsome with the story, one is forced to ask, do the exact details of the story matter?

When working with children, the answer is generally yes, because most of us find that children care a lot more about details and issues when they encounter them through engaging in stories – and the foundation of England is indeed an engaging story.

So it is generally a good idea to get the stories right – such as with the creation of a unified England in 1017.  What’s more, where it is quite possibly a story that the child’s parents don’t know, then the power of the story will be ever greater. For children love nothing more than educating their parents!

This is why we have developed a programme that sensitively highlights the issues of today by exploring them in the context of the very beginning of England, 1,000 years ago.

Storytellers from Snail Tales are travelling the country sharing the legends of the Anglo-Viking period, from Alfred’s burnt cakes to Knut’s wet feet – tales which reveal how England was forged by the great Anglo-Saxon and Viking leaders.

The storytellers will also run workshops on life in Anglo-Viking England to help your children understand how Knut united the various tribes that made up the country.

We’ll also supply an activities pack to help you run a birthday party marking England’s 1,000th, including: recommended music; Who Made England? book from The History Press; a special commemorative coin from the Royal Mint; and a special discount on tickets to your nearest performance of our theatre tour celebrating Knut, The First King of England in a Dress.

If you would like one of our storytellers to come to your school to engage in the activities above, please do click here to find out more.  Alternatively you can email us at stories@snailtales.org or phone us at 020 328 76245.

Two of the best dual power calculators for KS 3, 4 and GCSE maths exams ……

The Casio FX 85GT+ and the Logik LK 83XP are excellent choices for your GCSE maths students.  They both benefit from battery power with solar power back-up  to provide extra reassurance for your students  in exams. Both calcs have a “natural display” function which enables students to enter expressions and data as shown in textbooks.

The LK 83XP has similar features to the FX 85GT+ but without the “verify” and “recurring decimal” functions. Both calcs have a three year warranty and are available at short notice from Signpost Educational Ltd.,

In addition,  with orders for 100 or more of either  calc  (or a combination of both) you have the option of obtaining the popular “Trident geometry set”   for  just 95p (ex vat) instead of the usual price of £ 1.39 (ex vat) or more.

For more details & prices please see:


 or email to: info@signposteducational.co.uk    or phone: 020 7515 1797

Signpost Educational Ltd  PO Box 999  London E14 6SH