History in Schools - Present and Future

Conference Report

Last updated: 5th April 2016

History in Schools - Present and future: Event report This one day conference was organised by the sponsors to raise awareness of the changes in the 14-19 curriculum and initiate discussion on how history, taught from Key Stage 3 to HE level, could be best served and enhanced by the collective History community.

The discipline was widely supported at the event, with 37 delegates representing subject associations, HEIs, secondary schools and Ofsted: providing vigorous debate following each presentation, culminating in the round table discussion at the end of the day. The sequence of the talks reflected the progression of the study of history through school to HE level, and a focus soon emerged concerning the need to improve the level of dialogue between secondary school and HE teachers, not least to acknowledge the cyclical effects of teaching practice: good teaching, at all levels, benefits each stage of learning history, and we therefore all have a role to play.

Ben Walsh‟s (Historical Association) opening presentation offered a thought provoking insight and flavour of the „History Classroom‟. Beginning with a video clip (from the Teachers TV website) of a less-than inspired pupil in a history class, Ben addressed the key point of engagement: why does history matter? With reference to a QCA report by Terry Haydn on student perceptions of history1, it was noted that in a survey of 1700 children, two thirds gave up history aged fourteen, even though half of those giving up liked the subject and rated their teachers well: the problem is relevance. School initiatives are generally driven by the idea that education has to be „relevant‟, and academic subjects such as history are not perceived to be as relevant as maths or science. In asking a group of historians "... when was the last time you used Pythagoras? ...", Ben attacked the question of relevance head on: the study of history is not solely about the content, but getting students to think and engage with the world...Read the full report below!