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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  • 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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  • 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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  • Developing awareness of the need to select evidence

    Article

    Let's play Supermarket ‘Evidential' Sweep: developing students' awareness of the need to select evidence Despite having built a sustained focus on historical thinking into their planning for progression across Years 7 to 13, Rachel Foster and Sarah Gadd remained frustrated with stubborn weaknesses in the evidential thinking of students in...

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  • Developing students' thinking about change and continuity

    Article

    The more things change, the more they stay the same: developing students' thinking about change and continuity Finding ways to characterise the nature of change and continuity is an important part of the historian's task, yet students find it particularly challenging to do. Building on her previous work on change, Rachel...

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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 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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  • 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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  • 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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  • 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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  • 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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  • 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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  • 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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  • 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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  • Creating confident historical readers at A Level

    Article

    Why was Pitt not a mince pie? Enjoying argument without end: creating confident historical readers at A Level How can we help pupils learn to read historically? Gary Howells explores this question by explaining how he builds reading challenges into the course of his pupils' post-16 studies and by describing...

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  • Developing sixth-form students' thinking about historical interpretation

    Article

    Twist and shout? Developing sixth-form students' thinking about historical interpretation

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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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  • Deepening post-16 students' historical engagement with the Holocaust

    Article

    How can we deepen and broaden post-16 students' historical engagement with the Holocaust? Developing a rationale and methods for using filmPeter Morgan represents what is best about the reflective practitioner - an experienced teacher of some 15 years' standing, he continues to challenge himself and to seek ways to improve...

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  • Chatting about the sixties

    Article

    Chatting about the sixties: using on-line chat discussion to improve historical reasoning in essay-writing An article about essay writing may not seem the most obvious choice for an issue of Teaching History devoted to creative thinking. Yet, as Christine Counsell so richly demonstrated in her work on analytical and discursive...

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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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  • 'If everyone's got to vote then, obviously ... everyone's got to think': Using remote voting to involve everyone in classroom thinking at AS and A2

    Article

    Diana Laffin shares her findings on an action research project into the use of remote voting systems in the AS and A2 classroom. She was particularly interested in examining the impact of such devices on inclusion. For Laffin's students, participation in lessons was nothing new. Starting from a baseline of...

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