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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  • 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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  • 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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  • Cultivating curiosity about complexity

    Article

    A great deal has been written recently about the importance of encouraging and enabling all students to read beyond their comfort zones, beyond the textbook and certainly beyond the obvious requirements of an examination specification. Inspired by reading Orlando Figes' The Whisperers, Laura Bellinger chose to base her PGCE dissertation...

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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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  • 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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  • Carr, Evans, Oakshott and Rudge: the benefits of AEA history

    Article

    Sometimes the only way to go beyond the exam is to take another, more difficult, test. For the top—the very top—A2 students, there is such a test available. The Advanced Extension Award [AEA] is a history paper which encourages students finishing their school careers to think about history in a...

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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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  • 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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  • Are you ready for your close-up?

    Article

    We are often reminded that we remember little of what we hear and read but much of what we teach. The very act of teaching forces us to clarify our understanding and to process it so that it can be communicated in a structured, clear and accessible way. Here, Heather...

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  • Circles, anchors and finger puppets: how visual learning in 'A' level history can improve memory and conceptual understanding

    Article

    Steve Garnett shares some the techniques that he uses to involve different kinds of learner in his post-16 lessons and explains how he arrived at these approaches after reflecting on problems in his own early practice. Drawing upon the visual dimension in learning, he makes the case for including as...

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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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  • 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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  • 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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  • 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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  • Basket weaving in Advanced level history...how to plan and teach the 100 year study

    Article

    The current specifications for AS/A2 history require students to study change over a period of at least 100 years. Given that the 100 year study represents just one module out of six and also that it may not complement any of the other modules selected and may therefore be wholly...

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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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  • 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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  • A poodle with bite: Using ICT to make AS level more rigorous

    Article

    Diana Laffin describes two substantial ICT activities designed to strengthen both motivation and rigour in Year 12. In her first activity, she uses the power of ICT to develop a critical sense of audience. She shows how this can have a direct impact on improving performance in relation to examination...

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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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