Guidance Pack: Building a Local Teacher Network

Published: 6th May 2022

We know that it is difficult for teachers to get to events too far from school. As a national charity, the HA recognises the importance and need to build strong regional networks for the history teaching community. Many of these are already existing or organically growing across the country at grass roots level. The HA is here to support our members whether you are already part of an existing network or you are interested in creating a local teacher network.

The information in this guidance pack will provide some key pointers for those wishing to set up their own local networks as well as guidance on what the HA can do to support members who set up their own local teacher networks.

Why build a history teacher network?

If you are a teacher, you’ll understand the importance of networks. Perhaps you are already part of a network of mentors for example? Being part of a network allows teachers to build knowledge, reflect on practice, share ideas, thinking and resources, gain support and advice as well as feeling part of a community of like-minded people at local level where conversations and sharing practice can happen much more quickly. There may be more similarities of experience and context to tap into. Networks that contain both primary and secondary phase colleagues are also able to foster greater understanding of how each phase supports development and progress as well as the swapping of knowledge and ideas to smooth transition between phases.

Building such a network at local level means that you’ll build a strong local community that can also feed in to a strong national community through the HA.

What are the key things to think about?

If you are thinking of setting up a local teacher network there are a number of things to consider before you start:

  • What do I want from a network? Teacher networks adopt many different formats, so it’s important to think about what your goals are. Is it collaboratively produced work? Is it about sharing resources and ideas?
  • Is there an appetite for a network locally? It’s no good being a network of one – you need to put feelers out at local level and find out if there are others willing to get involved. What do they want from a network? Is there consensus?
  • Will the network be primary or secondary only or mixed?
  • How much time do I have to devote to this? Building a network can take a considerable amount of time and effort depending upon the number of people involved and the extent of it.
  • Do I have others willing to take on roles/organisation?
  • Do I have support of my SLT? Supportive senior leaders can provide a great support in getting things off the ground from allowing you time to work on the network to provision of meeting space and possibly even a small amount of funding for tea/coffee!
  • What resources do I have at my disposal? Do you have a meeting venue? Zoom/Teams account?
  • What other resources can I draw upon? Do you have a local HA branch in the area? Local museums or archives? Do you have any ITE networks to hook into?
  • What would sustain and nourish the network? It can be all to easy to focus on the very important topics, such as exam results for secondary and Ofsted for both primary and secondary but successful local networks are often those that enable people to rekindle their own love for history and nourish their enthusiasm and ability to make space for the best parts of their job.

First meeting

A first meeting might typically be a small group of those who have expressed interest in helping to set up a network. At your first meeting the core group might want to consider:

  • The remit and scope of the network – what is the main purpose/focus? How far will it stretch?
  • The type of presence you’ll have – will it be online or face to face? Or both? Will your network have a social media presence?
  • What roles need to be a part of developing the network and who will undertake these?

Developing the network

What your teacher network could include...

Networks will vary in size and composition and in the activities and initiatives they choose to undertake. Here are a few ideas of what your network might need or could feature:

  • A name – this sounds obvious, but you’ll need to think of a name for your network that resonates locally and will let people know what you are about. One example is YorkClio.
  • A core organising group of 4-6 people, including one person who will take overall lead. It will also be a good idea for all on the core committee to have a role in the function of the network as well as the development. This may include members who take responsibility for attracting local network members, publicity, finance if you are funding activities and liaison with local partners such as universities and museums.
  • Somewhere to meet or hold CPD training in the area. It could be a host school from one of the organising core group but wherever the venue, it should be cheap or preferably free.
  • A virtual meeting platform – possibly a Zoom, Teams (or other similar platform) licence
  • A programme of activities – This may be talks, teachmeets, CPD training, discussion sessions or it may also include visits, walks, workshops or other social events. It may also include attendance at HA local branch lectures or collaborative events with HA local branches.
  • A web presence. This could be a blog (Wordpress is inexpensive and works well) or if expertise and funds allow, a small website (again Wordpress is an inexpensive way to set this up). Google Sites has less functionality but has the advantage of being free. While details of local teacher network training events could be submitted to the HA events calendar on the HA main website, the local networks’ own web presence could provide a space for members to contribute resources/articles/recommended reading/think pieces plus provide a schedule of network fixtures plus other events going on in the region of interest. Here is an example of a Wordpress blog and here is an example of a regional network website: 
  • A social media presence. This can be on any platform that you choose; however, Facebook and Twitter both appear to have strong teacher presence. If your network is cross-phase, it may be a good idea to use more than one channel as there tend to be more primary teachers on Facebook and more secondary teachers on Twitter as a general rule. Here is an example of an existing regional network social media presence: 

What can the HA do to support you?

If you are interested in setting up your own local/regional network, the HA can support you through:

  • A supportive first virtual meeting with a member of the HA education team to provide initial guidance and discuss your needs
  • Sending of HA journals and merchandise for meetings and regional dissemination. This can include official HA headed note paper if you are formally writing to a local university or museum partner to request support or collaboration.
  • Support with access to speakers
  • Support in making contact with your nearest HA branch where possible
  • Dissemination of any regional network meetings through the HA events and CPD calendars
  • Support with an initial communication to member schools in your area
  • Putting you in touch with others who are already members of existing networks
  • Opportunities through HA events (e.g. forums) to share projects and work undertaken by networks

Getting started

The organising group needs to devise the shape of the network and a programme of activities/initiatives to support that. This will develop over time in the initial phase and the organising group should put together a suitable timescale in which to achieve these goals.

Useful contacts

  • You can navigate the list of HA branches to find your nearest here.
  • You can locate your nearest PGCE partnerships and SCITTS offering history here.
  • A simple Google search will help you to find museums and archives in your local area.
  • You can find a list of local history societies grouped by area here.

Other history networks

When thinking of setting up a network in your locality, it’s always a good idea to speak to others who have already been involved in setting up their own local networks.

Some examples might be:

  • YorkClio - 
  • HASW History Network - 
  • Bristol History Teacher Network: @kate_smee. This is a very informal group who meet from time to time.
  • Oxford History Teacher Network - 
  • GloucesterClio – led by Rebecca Rose at Ribston Hall school.
  • EuroClio – A network of history educators across Europe - @EuroClio or website: 
  • HullClio: @HullClio
  • Cambridge History Teacher Network – led by Rachel Foster
  • @BoltonHistory and @CanterburyHA are the Bolton and Canterbury branches of the HA which are 2 examples of HA branches with a good teacher presence. It’s worth checking what links you can make with your local branch or what your local branch already offers for teachers. See above to locate your nearest branch.
  • Many of the larger MATS also run their own localised networks for both primary and secondary colleagues.
  • Many larger museums also run teacher networks that it may be worth hooking into. These are not necessarily localised and not all will be history focused, but if you are in the geographical area of a larger museum or archive, it may be worth signing up to receive education news and hook into events for teachers.
  • Primary History Matters - run by Bev Forrest has a Facebook page and Twitter presence: @HistoryPrimary
  • Hampshire History network – primary and secondary - 
  • Lancashire Professional Development Service offers networks – led by Steve Kenyon - @SGK74
  • Kiklees - Local authority has a strong primary network – worth investigating for contacts.

Further questions

If you have questions that this guidance pack has not answered, please don’t hesitate to contact us. You can contact Mel Jones on or on 020 7820 5988.