Progression & Assessment

A Level History is a challenging course. Students are required to develop their skills of primary and secondary source evaluation. They must also learn to produce persuasive, well-structured and evidenced extended written arguments in the form of essays. Enabling students to progress from GCSE level to A Level requires great skill from teachers, and timely and precise assessment with feedback is a key part. In this section you will find helpful articles, guides and resources to enable you to ensure and assess your students’ progress.

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  • 'I feel if I say this in my essay it’s not going to be as strong’

    Article

    Jim Carroll was concerned that A-level textbooks failed to provide his students with a model of the multi-voicedness that characterises written history. In order to show his students that historians constantly engage in argument as they write, Carroll turned to academic scholarship for models of multi-voiced history. Carroll explains here...

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  • Nurturing aspirations for Oxbridge

    Article

    An exploration of the impact of university preparation classes on sixth-form historians Frustrated by the low numbers of students from her comprehensive state school who expressed any interest in applying to Oxford or Cambridge to study history, Lucy Hemsley set out to explore ways in which she might both inspire...

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  • Historical scholarship and feedback

    Article

    In her introduction to this piece, Carolyn Massey describes history teachers as professionals who pride themselves on ‘a sophisticated understanding of change and continuity’. How often, though, do we bemoan change when it comes, as it so often has recently? Massey’s article provides an example of how to embrace change,...

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  • Does the grammatical ‘release the conceptual’?

    Article

    Jim Carroll noticed basic literacy errors in his Year 13s’ writing, but on closer examination decided that these were not best addressed purely as literacy issues. Through an intervention based on clauses, Carroll managed to enable his students to write better, but he did this by teasing out principles of...

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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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  • How do you construct an historical claim?

    Article

    How do you construct an historical claim? Examining how Year 12 coped with challenging historiography While preparing her Year 12 students for an International Baccalaureate paper on early Islam, Kirstie Murray became concerned that students' weaknesses in making claims would be particularly exposed by the challenging complexity of this topic's...

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  • Pipes's punctuation and making complex historical claims

    Article

    Improve students' historical thinking and written argument Long, unreadable sentences in her students' essays led Rachel Foster to improve her post-16 students' punctuation. Her journey resulted, however, in more than improved punctuation. It led her to theorise what historians are really doing in their ‘signpost sentences'. She found herself showing students how an academic historian anticipates a chunk of argument in a single,...

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  • 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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  • Move Me On 156: Assessment for Learning

    Article

    This issue's problem: Fred North treats ‘Assessment for Learning' as though it is a bolt-on extra unconnected to his learning objectives Fred is an enthusiastic trainee who has generally made a good impression on students and colleagues over the course of his first term. He has been determined to establish a...

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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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  • New, Novice or Nervous? 152: Describing Progression

    Article

    'New, Novice or Nervous?' is for those new to the published writings of history teachers. Every problem you wrestle with, other teachers have wrestled with too. Quick fixes don't exist. But if you discover others' writing, you'll soon find - and want to join - something better: an international conversation...

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  • Assessment of students' uses of evidence

    Article

    Assessment of students' uses of evidence: shifting the focus from processes to historical reasoning

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  • Why essay-writing remains central to learning history at AS level

    Article

    Richard Harris challenges those who play down the essay in their teaching of the new AS Level. He argues that essay-writing embodies historical thinking and that it is therefore an essential tool for developing students’ understanding of history as an opinion-forming, judgement making process. Students need to practise developed, evidential...

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