Cunning Plan 177: teaching about life in Elizabethan England by looking at death

Teaching History feature

By Robin Conway, published 16th December 2019

‘We already did the Tudors in primary school’ was the most frequent comment made by students about our Year 7 scheme of learning in our annual review. Students reported covering the Tudors at least once, sometimes twice, before reaching secondary school and they had clearly not faced extensive further study of the period in Year 7 with great enthusiasm. One simple solution suggested itself: we had so much to cover and so little time, we could cut the Tudors and move on without a hint of regret. As we were switching to a two-year Key Stage 3 the timing was perfect; we were looking for things to ‘drop’.

However, as we began to develop the new Year 7 scheme of learning and thought more about curriculum coherence, this plan increasingly began to feel very alarming. As we wrapped up the Middle Ages, could we really just drop in the reminder ‘Then there were the Tudors. Most of you did them in primary school. So, moving on…’? What about the third of students who hadn’t ‘done’ the Tudors? The more we discussed it, the more we began to question what having ‘done’ them really meant...

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