Supporting professional learning

History specific CPD is very important if individual teachers and departments are to thrive. The best history departments have a culture of always learning together.  They are constantly discussing how children learn in history and they are always updating their subject knowledge.  It can be a lot of fun to learn together and to take advantage of opportunities to ‘do history’ as a team.  Despite the admin pressures that beset all schools, it is vital that most departmental meeting time is given over to subject specific CPD.  In this section you will find helpful articles, guides, resources, and information about opportunities, to enable your department to undertake effective CPD.

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  • Adventures in assessment

    Article

    In Teaching History 157, Assessment Edition, a number of different teachers shared the ways in which their departments were approaching the assessment and reporting of students’ progress in a ‘post-levels’ world. This article adds to those examples, first by illustrating how teachers from different schools in the Bristol area are...

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  • Assessment after levels

    Article

    Ten years ago, two heads of department in contrasting schools presented a powerfully-argued case for resisting the use of level descriptions within their assessment regimes. Influenced both by research into the nature of children's historical thinking and by principles of assessment for learning, Sally Burnham and Geraint Brown argued that...

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  • Cunning Plan 163: Developing an A-level course in medieval history

    Article

    Medieval history has always been a Cinderella era for post-16 students. Some schools offer A-levels in classical civilisation, but most A-level history courses focus on the early-modern and modern periods. A few schools teach an A-level medieval module, with the Crusades being a popular choice. I was therefore excited at...

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  • Engaging with each other: how interactions between teachers inform professional practice

    Article

    What kinds of interaction take place in a history department? What might be their value? Between 1999 and 2003, Simon Letman, then history teacher and Director of Studies at The Royal Hospital School in Ipswich, set out to discover how the rich variety of between-teacher- interactions, so much a feature...

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  • From the history of maths to the history of greatness

    Article

    Readers of Teaching History will be familiar with the benefits and difficulties of cross-curricular planning, and the pages of this journal have often carried analysis of successful collaborations with the English department, or music, or geography. Harry Fletcher-Wood describes in this article a collaboration involving maths, providing for us the...

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  • Making rigour a departmental reality

    Article

    Faced with the introduction of a two-year key stage and a new whole-school assessment policy, Rachel Arscott and Tom Hinks decided to make a virtue out of necessity and reconsider their whole approach to planning, teaching and assessment at Key Stage 3. In this article they give an account of...

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  • Move Me On 159: Writing Frames

    Article

    This issue's problem: Hannah Mitchell would like to wean pupils off the use of writing frames. Hannah Mitchell has embarked on her PGCE training after a year spent working as a Teaching Assistant. Her varied experiences in that role - sometimes working one-to-one with young people, within a targeted intervention...

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  • Move Me On: Knowledge

    Article

    Move Me On 157  This issue's problem: Rose Valognes feels she hasn't got enough ways of getting knowledge across to the students before they can do something with it. After a positive start to her training year, Rose Valognes seems to have got stuck in a rut in her thinking,...

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  • Move Me On: Reading.

    Article

    This issue’s problem: James Connolly is finding it difficult to judge how much or what kind of reading he should expect of his students. James Connolly, an eager and knowledgeable historian, has frequently struggled to pitch things appropriately for students. This applies particularly to his expectations of their reading, but...

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  • New, Novice or Nervous? Writing history essays

    Article

    Until the 1990s, it was unusual for the majority of England's secondary school students to write history essays. The traditional essay was a staple of the old History O Level examinations, but fewer than 20% of pupils did these history exams. In the 1980s, various history teachers became increasingly concerned...

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  • New, Novice, Nervous: Historical significance

    Article

    Historical significance first appeared in England’s National Curriculum for history in 1995. It entered the assessment framework (Level Descriptions) in 2008. In 2014, it became part of the History NC ‘Aims’. One thing never changes, however: it is hard. But history teachers have written a great deal about historical significance...

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  • Passive receivers or constructive readers?

    Article

    Passive receivers or constructive readers? Pupils' experiences of an encounter with academic history Rachel Foster reports here on research that she conducted into how students engage with academic texts. Unhappy with the usual range of texts that students encounter, often truncated and ‘simplified' in the name of accessibility, she designed...

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  • Promoting rigorous historical scholarship

    Article

    The history department at Cottenham Village College has one more member than you might expect. Ruth Brown is a teaching assistant (TA) and one of the longest-standingmembers of the department, and this article is about how her work has an impact on specific pupils, whole classes and teachers. The key...

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  • So, what exactly does an AST do?

    Article

    Professional development lies at the heart of any thriving, forward-thinking profession. In teaching, however, despite the government’s recent drive to ‘modernise’ the profession, it can still be a bit hit and miss. What are the opportunities for ambitious and successful teachers of history to widen their horizons and engage in...

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  • The importance of subject specific training

    Article

    It is my passion for history and interest in young people that has sustained me both as a teacher and latterly as a PGCE history tutor. Last term a number of seemingly unrelated issues began to coalesce in my mind. Over the summer I met a number of teachers that...

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  • Thinking makes it so: cognitive psychology and history teaching

    Article

    What, exactly, is learned knowledge - and why does it matter in history teaching? Michael Fordham seeks to use the general tenets of cognitive psychology to inform the debate about how history teachers might get the best from their students, in particular in considering the role of memory. Fordham surveys the latest research concerning memory while also arguing that remembering does matter in history...

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  • Using causation diagrams to empower

    Article

    Alex Alcoe was concerned that mastery of certain keywords and question formulae at GCSE perhaps obscured fundamental gaps in his students’ understanding of the nature of causation. These gaps were revealed when he invited Year 12 students to make explicit, by annotating a diagram, their understanding of the relationship between...

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  • Year 8 interpretations of WW1

    Article

    Dan Smith was concerned that his pupils were drawing on over-simplified generalisations about different periods of the past when they were considering why interpretations change over time. This led him to consider how pupils’ contextual knowledge and chronological fluency might be used more explicitly in order to avoid weak generalisations...

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