Planning

Planning at A level takes several forms. Awarding bodies offer quite different specifications, and choices within these specifications. However, there are also strict requirements common to all, including the teaching of material that covers a minimum of 200 years and the teaching of British history. The decision about which specification and which topics to teach will require consultation, careful attention to the resources available, and a clear timetable for implementation. There are then decisions to be made, some of them in consultation with senior leadership, about AS and A Level, and the scheduling and balance of time given to the different components of the specification. Individual teachers will need to plan to teach the topics in ways that enable their students to meet the assessment criteria and develop their historical thinking.  In this section you will find helpful articles, guides and resources to enable you to plan your A Level teaching.

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  • Developing transferable knowledge at A-level

    Article

    From a compartmentalised to a complicated past: developing transferable knowledge at A-level Students find it difficult to join up the different things they study into a complex account of the past. Examination specifications do not necessarily help with this because of the way in which history is divided up into...

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  • Distant voices, familiar echoes: exploiting the reosurces to which we all have access - from Essex, England to Masindi, Uganda!

    Article

    As an Advanced Skills Teacher, Denise Thompson has often been at the forefront of experimental developments. Five years ago, she reported on trials of an online discussion forum used to sharpen A level students' historical thinking. Two years later she shared her department's experiences as one of the first to...

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  • Duffy's devices: teaching Year 13 to read and write

    Article

    Rachel Ward’s intriguing title seems a little out of place in an edition on teaching the most able. The point she makes, though, is that even our very brightest post-16 students need to be encouraged both to engage with the historiography surrounding their course and to learn to write with...

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  • Exploring pupils' difficulties when arguing about a diverse past

    Article

    Wrestling with diversity: exploring pupils' difficulties when arguing about a diverse pastHow can we develop students' ability to argue about diversity? Sarah Black explores this question through classroom research that set out to help students think in complex ways about diversity, drawing on Burbules' work on conceptualising difference and diversity....

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  • Gladstone spiritual or Gladstone material? A rationale for using documents at AS and A2

    Article

    Rather than taking a sledgehammer approach to planning for the new AS and A2 courses Gary Howells has used the opportunity to reflect on characteristics of students' historical learning in the post-16 phase. He argues for a much fuller rationale for using documents than mere preparation for exams or coursework....

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  • Historical consciousness in sixth-form students

    Article

    Moving forwards while looking back: historical consciousness in sixth-form students A key concern driving debates about curriculum reform in England is anxiety that young people's knowledge of the past is too episodic - that they lack a coherent ‘narrative' or ‘map' of the past. While recent debate focused on what...

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  • Historiography - an Introduction Roger Spalding and Christopher Parker

    Article

    Historiography - an Introduction Roger Spalding and Christopher Parker Manchester University Press, ISBN 978 0 7190 7285 7 Pub 2007. £9.99 Although aimed at Undergraduates, this book will be immensely useful  to students at AS and A2. It is a readable and stimulating introduction to the topic, clearing away much...

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  • How does history shape our perceptions of national identity?

    Multipage Article

    A series of podcasts of British students and their peers around the world discussing how a study of history has influenced their perceptions of their national identity and how it has influenced their perceptions of each other. This project has been started by The Mount and Millthorpe Schools in York and Philipp Melanchthon Gymnasium...

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  • It's a lot harder than politics'...students' experience of history at Advanced Level

    Article

    Does the experience of studying history in the sixth form prepare students adequately for study at university? There is plenty of attention given to the issue of continuity across the Key Stages but much less attention given to the transition from school into higher education. It is largely assumed that...

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  • Learning to love linear?

    Article

    This workshop took place at the HA Annual Conference May 2016 in Harrogate. Some ideas for the successful introduction of the new A-levels. Diana Laffin, The Sixth Form College Farnborough This workshop provided some ideas for meeting the challenge of the new linear A-Levels.  It included strategies for tackling the...

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  • Life by sources A to F: really using sources to teach AS history

    Article

    The work of Gary Howells will be familiar to many readers of Teaching History—indeed, his last article is heavily cited elsewhere in this edition. He presents here the case in favour of using sources at AS level (16-17 years old). Clearly, historians need to have some form of acquaintance with...

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  • Liz Kellaway's Top Tips

    Article

    " If you are close enough to a university library and the university is willing, try to take A level students there for research on their individual assignments and general extended reading. Often sixth formers are allowed to use the university library as a reference library. This is really useful...

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  • Marr: magpie or marsh harrier?

    Article

    The quest for the common characteristics of the genus ‘historian' with 16- to 19-year-olds Diana Laffin writes about historical language and explores how understanding different historians' use of language can help sixth form students refine and deepen both their understanding of the discipline of history and their abilities to practise...

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  • Move Me On 154: Mixed Ability Groups

    Article

    This issue's problem:Joe Priestley is having problems providing sufficient challenge for the higher attainers within his mixed ability groups Joe Priestley has settled into his training placement very well and has impressed other members of the history department with his lively and engaging ideas. In his early teaching he was...

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  • Mushrooms and snake-oil: using film as AS/A level

    Article

    In this article, Seán Lang examines the power of film to shape AS/A students’ perception and even understanding of the past. He argues that teachers of Years 12 and 13 underestimate at their peril the impact film can have on how students shape their perception of history. Although, as he...

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  • New, Novice or Nervous? 172: Curriculum planning

    Article

    This page is for those new to the published writings of history teachers. Each problem you wrestle with, other teachers have wrestled with too. Quick fixes don’t exist. But in others’ writing, you’ll find something better: conversations in which history teachers have debated or tackled your problems – conversations which...

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  • OCR History A Level History: Democracy and Dictatorship in Germany 1919-63

    Article

    Professor Mary Fulbrook and David Williamson with Nick Fellows and Mike Wells Review by Barbara Hibbert This resource is one of a series produced by Heinemann to support the new OCR History A AS course.  It claims that it ‘exactly reflects the key issues and skills in the specification topics'. ...

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  • Placing history: territory, story, identity - and historical consciousness

    Article

    How do we relate to the past? Does it tell us who we are? Is it a source of examples to follow and mistakes to avoid? Or can we go beyond that to something genuinely historical? Arthur Chapman and Jane Facey argue that as history teachers we have a responsibility...

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  • Polychronicon 142: 'instructive reversals' - (re)interpreting the 1857 events in Northern India

    Article

    The dramatic, chaotic and violent events that took place in Northern India in 1857/8 have been interpreted in many ways, as, for example, the ‘Indian Mutiny', the ‘Sepoy War' and the ‘First Indian War of Independence'. The tales that have been told about these events have been profoundly shaped, however,...

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  • Polychronicon 148: The Wars of the Roses

    Article

    There are few periods in our history from which we turn with such weariness and disgust as from the Wars of the Roses. Their savage battles, their ruthless executions, their shameless treasons seem all the more terrible from the pure selfishness of the ends for which men fought, the utter...

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