Teaching for beginners

Published: 17th May 2021

School history teaching

This section is divided into three sub-sections:

2.1 What is history in schools?
2.2 Historical knowledge
2.3 History classroom practice

An introduction to the discipline of history in schools is covered in ‘What is history in schools?’ Beginning teachers need to learn and think about the nature and purposes of history in the school classroom and to know something of past and ongoing debates that surround the subject. 

The ‘historical knowledge’ section introduces beginning teachers to how knowledge is constructed and understood in the history classroom. It also introduces the framing and organisation of that knowledge, from the single lesson via historical enquiry to the history curriculum across the key stages. 

In the ‘history classroom practice’ section matters from historical literacy to assessment and from SEND in the history classroom to learning beyond the lesson are introduced. 

The process of learning to be an excellent history teacher is career long. The period of being a beginning teacher is only the start of the learning journey. While there are certain things, such as the structuring of a history lesson, that are learnt as a beginning teacher, learning to teach history is not a linear process. The same resource about subject knowledge may be used by a beginning teacher and a more experienced colleague, even if the questions they ask and the use they are able to make of the resource differ. As a result, this section will draw heavily upon other parts of the Historical Association’s large selection of resources for teachers. These will be introduced in this section from a beginning teacher’s perspective. Activities to support beginning teachers’ development will also be provided. 

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2.1 What is history in schools?

  • 2.1 What is history in schools?
  • 2.1.1 Purposes of history teaching
  • 2.1.2 School history and ‘knowledge’
  • 2.1.3 The relationship between school and academic history
  • 2.1.4 Pupils' views about school history
  • 2.1.5 School history and matters of identity
  • 2.1.6 Teaching history that is emotional, sensitive and controversial
  • 2.1.7 School history in its context

2.2 Historical knowledge

  • 2.2 Historical Knowledge
  • 2.2.1 Substantive knowledge
  • 2.2.2 Disciplinary knowledge
  • 2.2.3 Framing and organising historical knowledge in the classroom

2.3 History classroom practice

  • 2.3 History classroom practice
  • 2.3.1 Teacher History classroom talk 
  • 2.3.2 Effective active learning strategies
  • 2.3.3 Literacy in the history classroom 
  • 2.3.4 Dialogue and discussion in the history classroom
  • 2.3.5 Group work in the history classroom
  • 2.3.6 Supporting pupils to write in the manner of historians
  • 2.3.7 Building coherent substantive knowledge 
  • 2.3.8 Using historical scholarship in the classroom
  • 2.3.9 Cognitive psychology theories in the history classroom
  • 2.3.10 Adapting learning to meet the needs of all learners
  • 2.3.11 Teaching exam classes
  • 2.3.12 Progression
  • 2.3.13 Supporting transitions across key stages
  • 2.3.14 Assessment
  • 2.3.15 Feedback
  • 2.3.16 History and IT
  • 2.3.17 Learning Outside the Classroom