Inclusive approaches to teaching Elizabeth I at GCSE

Equality, Diversity and Inclusion at GCSE

Published: 19th October 2022

A crowd-sourced resource to support greater diversity of representation in history teaching at GCSE

The events of recent years led many to reflect upon the diversity of representation of their history curricula, what they teach and how they teach it. In the autumn of 2020 the Historical Association convened a diversity steering group of key stakeholders in history education. Over the course of the last century, historical research has continuously broadened the range and diversity of the people and forms of human behaviour it explores, and the content of GCSE and A-level specifications needs to be regularly reviewed and updated as the past is further debated and scholarship moves on. This is a focus of the steering group.

In 2020-21 a series of diversity network meetings were held bringing academic historians, examination boards and teachers together and in June of 2022, a full face to face meeting of stakeholders was held. The details and outcomes of this meeting are published here.

Examination boards are acutely aware of the speed at which reformed GCSE specifications had to be put together and the need for review of both content and structures. In the meantime, teachers have to work within existing specifications. Recognising this, and as one strand of a wider review, the HA began work on what we hope will become a crowd sourced resource taking popular GCSE topics across all of the major examination boards. In this first example on Elizabeth I, we have pulled out the common individuals, events and themes to units across all examination boards and where possible identifed alternative or complementary individuals, events or themes that could broaden out your teaching of these popular topics both in terms of representation, themes and type of history.

The resource that follows provides some case studies and suggestions to map to the indicative content of coverage in specifications covering the reign of Elizabeth I at GCSE. We know from the history teaching community that others are also carrying out great work and research to identify fresh perspectives and lesser-known stories to enrich their teaching of GCSE topics. This resource is by no means exhaustive and we would love to see it become a crowd sourced resource developed by and for the history teaching community. If through your own research you are able to add case studies and suggestions to this resource, we want to hear from you! Please submit case studies and suggestions to 

Of course, representation in GCSE teaching and specifications is just one aspect and there is a great deal of work to be done. Howver, we hope this resource will prove useful and we’d also love to hear your feedback. If you have suggestions for developments or improvements or you’d just like to tell us what you think, please use the email above. This first topic is a pilot and your feedback will let us know whether it will be useful to cover other GCSE topics in a similar way.

This resource is FREE to all registered users of the website

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  • Elizabeth and her court
  • Government
  • Domestic issues
  • Religion
  • Foreign policy and connections to the wider world
  • Society and culture

Case studies

  • Diego
  • Maria
  • Elizabeth ‘Bess’ Throckmorton
  • Bess of Hardwick
  • Lettice Knollys
  • Penelope Rich
  • Anne Percy
  • Jane Neville
  • Gelli Meyrick
  • John Penry