My essays could go on forever: using Key Stage 3 to improve performance at GCSE.


By Diana Laffin, published 11th February 2000

History teachers are waking up to the fact that you cannot raise standards in GCSE by very much if you leave this work until Year 10. To leave it that late is to resort to surface, tactical moves rather than to address the deep reasons why so many pupils find Grade C or above prohibitively difficult. Diana Laffin draws on a range of well-known existing practice and published work to place in a wider context her distinctive approach to progression from Years 7 to 11. Her central message is a tonic to the department wanting to review its Key Stage 3 workschemes in line with National Curriculum 2000. She argues for the need to examine in a very detailed way how the work of training pupils to select, classify and organise (Key Element 5) must be linked with their work in framing and analysing different types of historical question (Key Element 4). She offers countless practical activities with learning objectives derived from the link between these two ideas. Regularly taught and assessed, pupils will acquire the focus, precision and relevance necessary to argue a case. Diana argues that to see this as ‘examination technique' as opposed to routine good history at Key Stage 3 is to miss the point of progression completely. In addition, notice how she integrates very purposeful use of ICT at every stage. Trainee teachers and their mentors, trying to implement the new curriculum for ICT in history initial teaching training, will find here plenty of examples of the use of ICT that shuns gimmick and puts history, learning and the intellectual effort of thinking, first.

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