Using enquiry questions

Many history departments use enquiry questions as an essential device for structuring their planning. Enquiries – built on the basis of genuine, worthwhile historical questions that the students are ultimately required to answer – often form the basic units within schemes of work, with each enquiry lasting several lessons/weeks. A good question will make clear not only the substantive focus of the enquiry but also the particular second-order or disciplinary concept that the students are dealing with. This approach allows teachers to plan effectively across key stages, clearly identifying where and when they are focusing on particular concepts, making it easier to plan for progression; ensuring, for example, that a Year 9 enquiry question about similarity and difference across the British Empire builds on and extends the analytical framework used to explore similarity and difference in a Year 8 enquiry about the Mughal Empire.  The materials in this section include detailed examples of individual schemes of work built around different kinds of enquiry questions, along with examples of larger curriculum plans conceived of in terms of a series of well-designed enquiry questions. Read more

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  • Interpreting Agincourt: KS3 Scheme of Work

    Article

    2015 was a year of anniversaries. As part of our funded commemoration projects surrounding the 600th anniversary of the Battle of Agincourt, we have commissioned this scheme of work looking at interpretations of the battle and period, particularly aimed at pupils in Key Stage Three. It comes with a complete...

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  • Into the Key Stage 3 history garden: choosing and planting your enquiry questions

    Article

    Drawing upon a range of practice, Michael Riley analyses the characteristics of a good enquiry question. He explores the importance of careful wording of the question if it is genuinely to help the teacher to integrate areas of content into a purposeful learning journey and without distortion.He then moves on...

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  • Knowledge and the Draft NC

    Article

    Silk purse from a sow's ear? Why knowledge matters and why the draft History NC will not improve it Katie Hall and Christine Counsell attempt to construct a Key Stage 3 scheme of work out of the draft National Curriculum for history that was released for consultation in England in...

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  • Making history curious: Using Initial Stimulus Material (ISM) to promote enquiry, thinking and literacy

    Article

    The idea of gaining pupils’ attention, interest and curiosity at the start of the lesson with an intriguing image, story, analogy or puzzle has long been used by our best history teachers. Michael Riley, through writing and inset, popularised the term ‘hook’ and emphasised its special role at the start...

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  • Making rigour a departmental reality

    Article

    Faced with the introduction of a two-year key stage and a new whole-school assessment policy, Rachel Arscott and Tom Hinks decided to make a virtue out of necessity and reconsider their whole approach to planning, teaching and assessment at Key Stage 3. In this article they give an account of...

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  • Modelling the discipline

    Article

    David Hibbert and Zaiba Patel decided to work together after becoming concerned that school history curricula might not enable students to interrogate popular British mythologising about World War II. Building on these pre-existing concerns, their collaboration with the historian Yasmin Khan yielded an Interpretations enquiry which asked students to consider...

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  • Move Me On 140: Getting students to generate their own enquiry questions

    Article

    This Issue's Problem: Rafe Sadler has just started his second teaching placement and is worried about the very different ways of working and expectations of teachers in his new department. In his first school, where history was taught within a humanities programme, the Key Stage 3 scheme of work had...

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  • New, Novice or Nervous? 153: Good Enquiry Questions

    Article

    This page 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 in which...

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  • Politic, history and stories about the Cold War

    Article

    Interpretation of the Cold War is a fascinating area. Many students begin to study it certain pre-formed ideas – gleaned from their parents, perhaps, or from films or computer games. Historians have interpreted it in different ways – and those who believe in the ‘twenty-year rule’ that historical judgment is...

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  • Pupil-led historical enquiry: what might this actually be?

    Article

    The current National Curriculum for history requires pupils to ‘identify and investigate specific historical questions, making and testing hypotheses for themselves'. While Kate Hammond relished the encouragement that this gave to her pupils to engage in the process of historical enquiry, she was keen to develop a much clearer sense...

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  • Shaping the debate

    Article

    As history departments in England prepare for the introduction of new GCSE specifications, the question of how to prepare students to succeed in the examination while also ensuring that they are taught rigorous history remains as relevant as ever. Faced with preparing students to answer a question that seemingly precluded...

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  • What’s the wisdom on… enquiry questions

    Article

    What's the Wisdom On... is a short guide providing new history teachers with an overview of the ‘story so far’ of practice-based professional thinking about a particular aspect of history teaching. It draws on tried and tested approaches arising from teachers with years of experimenting, researching, practising, writing and debating their...

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  • Why go on a pilgrimage? Using a concluding enquiry to reinforce and assess earlier learning

    Article

    Jamie Byrom describes the learning activities within a final enquiry for a National Curriculum area of study - Britain 1066-1500. The strong message in this article is that the learning in each enquiry is only as good as the planning and teaching of the enquiries that precede it. Byrom's model...

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