The importance of subject-specific training

Jason Todd, History Tutor on the Oxford University PGCE programme

It is my passion for history and interest in young people that has sustained me both as a teacher and latterly as a PGCE history tutor.

Last term a number of seemingly unrelated issues began to coalesce in my mind. Over the summer I met a number of teachers that had completed their training in previous years within our PGCE partnership. Many of them expressed fatigue with  the relentless exam-focused nature of the teaching that they felt they had been forced to adopt – described by, many as an ‘exam factory’ approach, that served to reduce their history teaching to the most instrumental of elements. A related concern was the feeling of a lack of creativity in their role. In October, as the HA was responding to a government consultation on Continuing Professional Development (CPD), I asked for feedback, once again from ex-trainees. While this was hardly rigorous research, their overall conclusion echoed the findings of the HA’s annual surveys: very little history-specific training is being offered – a critical omission given the high profile given to increased subject knowledge at GCSE and A-level. The final issue was my experience of the chaotic...

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