Diversity in the past

The materials in this section are all focused on the choices that teachers have to make about the substantive content of their curriculum. The diversity that all students encounter within the past – the range of specific individuals and groups of people about whom they learn – and the ways in which different topics are treated within the curriculum are known to impact on the extent to which young people engage with school history and on the connections that they see between past and present. The resources in this section illustrate different ways in which teachers have increased the diversity of their curriculum – paying more attention, for example, to women other than monarchs in the early modern period; examining the work of  Black British civil rights campaigners; or questioning the stereotype of the English ‘Tommy’ in examining who fought for Britain on the Western Front. Teachers will need to develop their own subject knowledge if they are to teach more diverse pasts and many of these resources help to provide some of that new knowledge or show where it can be found.

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  • How diverse is your history curriculum?

    Article

    The past was full of diverse people and our students are entitled to learn about this diverse past. History lessons should enable students to see their connection to the past and to understand the world today. Here are a list of questions for history teachers to use to support a...

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  • Year 7 challenge stereotypes about the Mexica

    Article

    After discussing a new book about the Mexica (Aztecs) during a routine meeting with a trainee teacher, Niamh Jennings decided to construct a sequence of lessons around the history of the Mexica Empire. Struck by the vivid storytelling of historian Camilla Townsend in her book Fifth Sun, and fascinated by...

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  • Move Me On 192: analytical focus with diverse histories

    Article

    Move Me On is designed to build critical, informed debate about the character of teacher training, teacher education and professional development. It is also designed to offer practical help to all involved in training new history teachers. Each issue presents a situation in initial teacher education/training with an emphasis upon...

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  • What Have Historians Been Arguing About... gender and sexuality

    Article

    Although they overlap, gender and sexuality are each a distinctive field of historical research. Researching in these fields involves cross-disciplinary work and a range of media and methods. One of the greatest challenges is that of terminology: how to refer to the gender identity or sexuality of a subject in...

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  • ‘But they just sit there’: using objects as material culture with Year 8

    Article

    Having specialised in the history of material culture during her degree, Gabriella West was struck by the dismissive attitude of her pupils towards the study of material objects from the past. She therefore set out to find the perfect object through which to induct her Year 8 pupils into the history...

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  • Cunning Plan 191: diving deep into ‘history from below’ with Year 8

    Article

    Can the ‘subaltern’ speak, Year 8s? When the Indian scholar and literary theorist Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak asked this question in 1988, she wasn’t asking Year 8s on a Monday morning. What she wanted to explore was whether those marginalised people written out of the archive – ‘the subaltern’ – could...

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  • Decolonising sources: helping Year 9 pupils critically evaluate colonial sources

    Article

    Danielle Donaldson’s history department was already working within a professional culture that sought opportunities for making the history curriculum diverse and representative. Responding to wider debates within and beyond the history education community, however, the department began to ask fresh questions about what it meant to decolonise a curriculum. Donaldson...

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  • Inclusive approaches to teaching Elizabeth I at GCSE

    Multipage Article

    The events of recent years led many to reflect upon the diversity of representation of their history curricula, what they teach and how they teach it. In the autumn of 2020 the Historical Association convened a diversity steering group of key stakeholders in history education. Over the course of the...

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  • Ensuring Gypsy, Roma and Traveller children do not feel unseen in the history classroom

    Article

    Richard Kerridge and Helen Snelson present a brief sequence of lessons using the life of the Gypsy woman Mary Squires as a way into the changes of industrialising Britain. More significantly, they also present a compelling rationale for why history teachers should be slotting in the stories of Gypsy, Roma...

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  • Telling difficult stories about the creation of Bangladesh

    Article

    Nathanael Davies recognised that previous efforts to diversify the history taught at his school by weaving new stories into the curriculum had made little impression on his students’ assumptions about what really counted as history. Planning a new enquiry on the creation of Bangladesh was intended both to bridge a...

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  • Reimagining the ‘Aba Riots’

    Article

    As an Early Career Teacher, Eleri Hedley-Carter set out to make the history she teaches in school more reflective of her undergraduate study of history – a discipline that strives to uncover a diverse past through various lenses and historical methods. In addition to expanding her school’s curriculum to include an...

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  • Do Gypsy, Roma and Traveller children see themselves in your history classroom?

    Multipage Article

    Gypsy, Roma and Traveller people are the largest minority ethnic group in some communities (and therefore in some schools) in the UK.  Richard Kerridge and Helen Snelson have worked with the historian Professor Becky Taylor to produce a range of teaching resources for teaching the history of Gypsy, Roma and Traveller...

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  • Cunning Plan 186: teaching Samurai Japan in Key Stage 3

    Article

    Like many history departments we have been seeking to develop schemes of work that are more outward-looking, and, as the National Curriculum describes, ‘enable pupils to know and understand significant aspects of world history’.  To my mind, Samurai Japan offers students the opportunity to explore a time and place that is...

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  • Bringing school into the classroom

    Article

    The Secondary Education and Social Change (SESC) research project team at the University of Cambridge collaborated with four secondary school history teachers to produce resource packs for teaching Key Stage 3 pupils about post-war British social history through the history of secondary education. In this article, Chris Jeppesen explains the...

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  • Cunning Plan 185… for building difference into GCSE curriculum design

    Article

    Many history teachers have been busy making space in their curriculum plans for different sorts of histories. This process, as Priyamavda Gopal has argued (in response to claims that moves to decolonise the curriculum constitute an attempt to censor history by editing out those bits viewed as ‘stains’ on the nation’s...

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  • Illuminating the possibilities of the past

    Article

    Claire Holliss reports here on the ways in which she has responded over time to the call to ‘do justice’ to the histories of those long neglected within the school curriculum.  Reflection on the need to ensure that the discipline of history remained central to any reform prompted her to...

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  • Teaching Britain’s ‘civil rights’ history

    Article

    Hannah Elias and Martin Spafford begin this article by explaining why they believe it is essential for young people to learn about the ‘heterogeneous, rich and complex’ history of the struggle for civil rights in Britain. Drawing on their diverse experiences of researching, writing and teaching history at school and university...

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  • Diversity resources and links for secondary history

    Article

    Categories Diversity: general | Race and ethnicity | Empire and decolonisation | Transatlantic slavery | Non-European | Migration and immigration | Women's history | Working-class history | LGBTQI+ | Disability & accessibility | Gypsy, Roma & Traveller history | Teaching controversial issues | Inclusion and SEND Please note that this is a...

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  • West Indian Soldier: Learning resources from the National Army Museum

    8th October 2021

    The National Army Museum is a leading authority on the British Army, exploring its role from the British Civil Wars to the present day. Through its collections, the Museum preserves and shares stories of ordinary people with extraordinary responsibilities. The Museum’s Learning team is committed to providing engaging and curriculum-driven...

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  • Year 7 use oral traditions to make claims about the rise and fall of the Inka empire

    Article

    As part of her department’s effort to diversify the history curriculum, Paula Worth began a quest to research and then shape a lesson sequence around the Inkas. Her article shows how she allowed the new topic and its historiography to challenge and extend her own use of sources, particularly oral tradition....

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