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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  • Polychronicon 166: The ‘new’ historiography of the Cold War

    Article

    A great deal of new writing on the Cold War sits at the crossroads of national, transnational and global perspectives. Such studies can be so self-consciously multi-archival and multipolar, methodologically pluralist in approach and often ‘decentring’ in aim, that some scholars now worry that the Cold War risks losing its coherence as a distinct object of...

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  • Polychronicon 170: The Becket Dispute

    Article

    ‘The Becket Dispute’ (or ‘Controversy’) refers to the quarrel between Henry II and Thomas Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury, which dominated English ecclesiastical politics in the 1160s. It was a conflict with multiple dimensions: a clash of Church and State; a prolonged struggle between two prominent individuals; a close friendship turned...

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  • Reading and enquiring in Years 12 and 13

    Article

    Historical enquiry is blooming at Key Stage 3. Thanks to a rich array of source materials available on the web and in textbooks, superb history-specific training courses and genuinely innovative practice in schools, pupils can increasingly be found wrestling with demanding and often lengthy sources. They do this in order...

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  • Strategies for A-Level marking to motivate and enable

    Article

    "A is for Assessment"...Strategies for A-Level marking to motivate and enable students of all abilities to progressJane Facey was unsatisfied with the way in which her A-Level students responded to typical assessment practice. This would normally involve their teacher marking their work and then providing them with written feedback. In...

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  • Stretching the straight jacket of assessment: use of role play and practical demonstration to enrich pupils' experience of history at GCSE and beyond

    Article

    As in his previous, popular and influential Teaching History articles, Ian Luff has once again provided us with a wide range of high-quality, practical activities informed by a rigorous and persuasive rationale. This time, he has turned his attention to the use of role play and active demonstration at GCSE...

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  • Teaching History 147: Curriculum Architecture

    Article

    Editorial 02 HA Secondary News 03 HA update 04 08 Beth Baker and Steven Mastin - Did Alexander really ask, ‘Do I appear to you to be a bastard?' Using ancient texts to improve pupils' critical thinking 14 Cunning Plan Beth Baker 16 Robin Whitburn and Sharon Yemoh ‘My people...

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  • Teaching students to argue for themselves - KS3

    Article

    Avoiding a din at dinner or, teaching students to argue for themselves: Year 13 plan a historians' dinner party Keeley Richards secured a fundamental shift in some of her Year 13 students' ability to argue. She did it by getting them to engage more fully with the practice of argument...

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  • Teaching, learning and sharing medieval history for all

    Article

    Medieval history is on the rise. Among the many recent reforms in the history curriculum is a requirement for medieval themes at GCSE and across the country the new   linear A-level offers fresh opportunities for teachers to look beyond the traditional diet of Tudors and modern history. The huge divide...

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  • The Harkness Method: achieving higher-order thinking with sixth-form

    Article

    Hark the herald tables sing! Achieving higher-order thinking with a chorus of sixth-form pupils On 9 April 1930, a philanthropist called Edward Harkness donated millions of dollars to the Phillips Exeter Academy in the USA. He hoped that his donation could be used to find a new way for students to sit around a table...

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  • The new history 'AS-Level': principles for planning a scheme of work

    Article

    The new AS and A2 specifications have led to paperwork, headaches and late nights for teachers. Rachael Rudham recognises the fresh demands that the new AS-level presents – not least of which is the opening up of post-16 history to a broader range of ability. Clearly it is not possible...

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  • Transforming historical understanding through scripted drama

    Article

    ‘The best way for students to remember history is to experience it!' Transforming historical understanding through scripted dramaAn article on scripted drama might seem an unlikely choice for an edition devoted to getting students talking. Surely the point about a script is that the words used are chosen and prescribed...

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  • Triumphs Show 150.1: meeting the challenges of the A2 synoptic unit

    Article

    A collaborative project between Richard Rose Central Academy and University of Cumbria PGCE History trainees to meet the challenges of the A2 synoptic unit. "If I tell you to eat, you will eat! You wanted cake! You stole cake! And now you've got cake! What's more, you're going to eat...

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  • Triumphs Show 150.2: Year 13 game for reaching substantiated judgements

    Article

    Year 13 play a competitive game to help them arrive at strong and substantiated judgements. Year 13 were in the library again, sinking under tomes of weighty works on the German Reformation. James was feverishly rifling through a book on the ‘Reformation World' for something (anything!) to do with Luther's...

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  • Triumphs Show 164: interpretations at A Level

    Article

    Julia Huber and Katherine Turner found that their A-level students struggled to identify the line of argument in a passage of historical scholarship, an essential prerequisite for answering their coursework question. They devised an activity that helped students to unpick and visually contrast historians’ interpretations of the relative importance of...

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  • Using databases to explore the real depth in the data

    Article

    Is it a good thing to have a lot of evidence? Surely the historian would answer that yes, it is: the more evidence that can be used, the better. The problem with this approach, though, is that too much data can be overwhelming for the history student - and, in...

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  • Using nominalisation to develop written causal arguments

    Article

    How nominalisation might develop students’ written causal arguments Frustrated that previously taught writing frames seemed to impede his A-level students’ historical arguments, James Edward Carroll theorised that the inadequacies he identified in their writing were as much disciplinary as stylistic. Drawing on two discourses that are often largely isolated from...

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  • Waking up to complexity

    Article

    Waking up to complexity: using Christopher Clark's The Sleepwalkers to challenge over-determined causal explanations Teaching student to construct causal argument is a staple of history teaching and, in this year, questions about the causes of the First World War are particularly pertinent and once again the public eye. Claire Holliss,...

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  • What made your essay successful? I ‘T.A.C.K.L.E.D' the essay question!

    Article

    Teaching in Singapore, Tze Kwang Teo cannot conceive of a history teacher unfamiliar with the mnemonic ‘PEE' (or ‘PEEL') used to structure students' essays. Its ubiquity is testimony to its power, reminding students both to explain and to substantiate their claims. Yet, as Foster and Gadd have argued, its neat formulation can restrict and distort historical thinking. Building on their critique, Teo argues that the focus of PEE/L...

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  • ‘If you had told me before that these students were Russians, I would not have believed it’

    Article

    Bjorn Wansink and his co-authors have aligned their teaching of a recent and controversial historical issue – the Cold War – in the light of a contemporary incident. This article demonstrates a means of ensuring that students understand that different cultures’ views of their shared past are nuanced, rather than monolithic – a different concept in philosophy as well as in...

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