HA Conference 2021 round-up

Published: 1st July 2021

HA Conference 2021 – a virtual event which was a very real success!

So, we didn’t all get to pack into a room together and chat loudly and sort through our new canvas HA bag this year, but we did still have a conference. A second year done using digital technology rather than meeting up face-to-face – and a second success. We built on the formula developed for our virtual conference in 2020, combining pre-recorded lectures and workshops with live keynote talks and interactive sessions.

This meant that people could attend all the sessions that we put on if they really wanted to – and why wouldn’t you want to?

The Presidential Lecture given for the first time by Peter Mandler addressed the birth studies of 1946, 1958 and 1970, and now 2000. These studies, which have served as models for researchers around the world, have developed into eclectic combinations of medical research, sociological research and, now, historical research. They can tell us in extraordinary detail and vividness about the lives of a representative sample of British people and how those lives have changed over the past 70 years, giving a different kind of narrative to one punctuated by political benchmarks. 

Another keynote was by Kennetta Hammond Perry who is Director of the Stephen Lawrence Research Centre at De Montfort University. She spoke with powerful effect about ‘Teaching to transform: why history teaching is essential to building an anti-racist classroom’.

Finally, the traditional HA Saturday morning keynote slot was filled by the ever-popular and brilliant Michael Wood. Turning away from Early English history on this occasion, his lecture was on some of his more recent research on the ‘Transformation of Modern China’.

For teachers there was the usual mix of workshops to improve subject knowledge and those to develop pedagogy. There were also important talks and Q&As from Ofsted representatives and the exam boards.

For the general member we once more provided excellent historical talks from academics who were based around the country and abroad (one of the benefits of a virtual conference), whose subjects ranged from Women of the Crusades to a History of Pan-Africanism.

All in all it was an excellent virtual conference with over 500 attendees, who were able at times to have a chat with each other in the discussion groups and breakout rooms. Not as satisfying perhaps as a meeting in a real room, but certainly better than working in isolation.

The pre-recorded sessions and the live keynotes are available to watch until 6 September to those who registered for conference. And if you didn’t register then you will just have to wait until next year’s conference.

For 2022 we hope to be back to a face-to-face conference in Bristol and we are exploring some blended approaches as well. However, we will all have to wait and see if that happens, but either way we will certainly see many of you for HA conference 2022 and it will be as brilliant as ever.