Long-term knowledge plans

While the retention of historical knowledge is obviously important for students who face public examinations at the end of two or three year courses, the retention of different kinds of historical knowledge matters at all stages of young people’s education. Specific details that lend colour and interest to particular topics (and often play a vital role in explaining why events played out as they did) may well be forgotten; but teachers need to think carefully about the kind of ‘residue’ that they want to remain. What broader contextual knowledge will support the next specific study on which students are going to embark? What kind of summaries or essential reference points will help to anchor the over-arching framework that they are constructing?  The materials in this section deal with ways in which teachers can plan in the longer-term, across whole key stages and across the whole-school curriculum, to support the retention, retrieval, re-use and refinement of students’ knowledge over time. 

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  • Anything but brief: Year 8 students encounter the longue durée

    Article

    Inspired by The History Manifesto, Suzanne Powell describes in this article her rationale for expanding her students’ horizons by asking them to think about change, similarity and difference on a grand scale. She sets ‘big history’ into its curricular context, and shows the way in which her students could, and...

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  • Managing the scope of study

    Article

    Anna Dickson and her department sought a solution to the challenges posed to their pupils by the expanded curricular scope of the new GCSE. In particular, they wanted to address the difficulties their pupils experienced in understanding the Cold War. Dickson outlines here how she drew on the work of...

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  • New, Novice or Nervous? 167: Confidence with substantive knowledge

    Article

    This page is for those new to the published writings of history teachers. Each problem you wrestle with, other teachers have wrestled with too...   History is a complex enterprise. In order to produce sophisticated arguments, pupils need firm foundations. One foundation is knowledge of the argumentative structures that historians...

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  • Move Me On 167: Frames of reference

    Article

    This feature is designed to build critical, informed debate about the character of teacher training, teacher education and professional development. This issue’s problem: Eleanor Franks doesn’t really understand her students’ frames of reference and the difficulties that many of them have in making sense of the particular historical phenomena she is teaching them about. Eleanor Franks,...

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  • Of the many significant things that have ever happened, what should we teach?

    Article

    There are three basic strands to our lessons. How should we teach? What skills should we enable our students to build? What content should we use to deliver those skills? In this article Tony McConnell, who has been re-designing the curriculum in his school in response to a changed examination regimen, considers the issue of subject...

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  • New, Novice or Nervous? 162: GCSE Thematic Study

    Article

    Thematic studies have been a long-standing feature of the Schools History Project (SHP) GCSE specifications in England and Wales; but for teachers of ‘Modern World’ GCSE specifications, the thematic study in the new GCSE specifications for teaching in England from September 2016 is unfamiliar territory. Perhaps you are entirely new...

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  • Cunning Plan 162: Transferring knowledge from Key Stage 3 to 4

    Article

    Planning to deliver the new GCSE specifications presents a challenge and an opportunity to any history department, whatever their previous specification. The sweep of history that students will now study at GCSE is much broader than ‘Modern World’ departments are used to; including a medieval or early modern depth study...

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  • Adventures in assessment

    Article

    In Teaching History 157, Assessment Edition, a number of different teachers shared the ways in which their departments were approaching the assessment and reporting of students’ progress in a ‘post-levels’ world. This article adds to those examples, first by illustrating how teachers from different schools in the Bristol area are...

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  • New, Novice or Nervous? 161: Teaching substantive concepts

    Article

    It’s worrying when pupils reach Year 9 or 10 unable to properly interpret or find fluency in major abstract nouns that crop up again and again in history. They should have bumped into ‘empire’, ‘republic’, ‘federation’, ‘peasantry’, ‘commons’ and ‘communism’, many times by Year 10, so why are many students...

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  • Cunning Plan 159: Putting the people into Magna Carta

    Article

    Does your heart skip with excitement at the prospect of a Year 7 lesson on Magna Carta? No? Magna Carta may be an important part of the long-term story of royal power and individual liberties but it is not a topic that excites many teachers. If it were, teachers would...

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  • Developing transferable knowledge at A-level

    Article

    From a compartmentalised to a complicated past: developing transferable knowledge at A-level Students find it difficult to join up the different things they study into a complex account of the past. Examination specifications do not necessarily help with this because of the way in which history is divided up into...

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  • Building and assessing historical knowledge on three scales

    Article

    The knowledge that ‘flavours' a claim: towards building and assessing historical knowledge on three scales While marking some Year 11 essays, Kate Hammond found her interest caught by significant differences between one kind of strong analysis and another. Some scored high marks but were less convincing. The achievement in these...

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  • Assessment after levels

    Article

    Ten years ago, two heads of department in contrasting schools presented a powerfully-argued case for resisting the use of level descriptions within their assessment regimes. Influenced both by research into the nature of children's historical thinking and by principles of assessment for learning, Sally Burnham and Geraint Brown argued that...

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  • New, Novice or Nervous? 157: Teaching Overview

    Article

    Overwhelmed by overview? Bewildered by how to teach bigger pictures? Tied up in mental knots by trying to work out the difference between thematic stories, frameworks and outlines? You are not alone. Like many history teachers, you feel more confident when teaching depth studies but find yourself beating a rapid...

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  • Year 9 face up to historical difference

    Article

    How many people does it take to make an Essex man? Year 9 face up to historical difference Teaching her Key Stage 3 students in Essex, Catherine McCrory was struck by the stark contrast between their enthusiasm for studying diverse histories of Africa and the Americas and their reluctance to...

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  • Year 9 - Connecting past, present and future

    Article

    Possible futures: using frameworks of knowledge to help Year 9 connect past, present and future How can we help pupils integrate history into coherent ‘Big Pictures' or mental frameworks? Building on traditions of classroom research and theorising reported in earlier editions of Teaching History, Dan Nuttall reports how his department set...

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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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  • Historical reasoning in the classroom

    Article

    Historical reasoning in the classroom: What does it look like and how can we enhance it? The history education community has long recognised that historical thinking depends on the interplay between substantive knowledge about the past and the procedural, or second-order, concepts that historians use to construct, shape and give...

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  • Time and chronology: conjoined twins or distant cousins?

    Article

    Weaknesses in pupils' grasp of historical chronology are a commonplace in popular discussion of the state of history education. However, as Blow, Lee and Shemilt argue, although undoubtedly necessary and fundamental, mastery of chronological conventions is not sufficient: the difficulties that pupils experience when learning history are conceptual, as much...

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  • How my interest in what I don't teach has informed my teaching and enriched my students' learning

    Article

    Warrior queens, regal trade unionists and warring nurses: how my interest in what I don't teach has informed my teaching and  enriched my students' learning Flora Wilson argues here for the importance of maintaining a fascination with history as an academic subject for experienced, practising history teachers. Just as medical...

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