Supporting the Migrants in Britain Historic Environment: on location with Aaron Wilkes

The history team and Aaron Wilkes filming the Edexcel Migrants in Britain webinar

Oxford have been supporting teaching of the Historic Environment element of AQA GCSE History for many years now. This has ranged from classroom posters and worksheets to free webinars and animated Kerboodle content.

We are acutely aware that this is an area where teachers often ask for our help. For several years, we have supported the AQA GCSE spec with short video clips ‘on location’ at some of the Historic Environment sites because we know that not all schools are able to get out and physically visit the sites specified for the exams each year. So, when the History Team launched our new Edexcel GCSE History course, we wanted to offer the same sort of support to ensure all students have the chance to immerse themselves in HE locations – people, events, sounds and smells – without ever leaving their seats. And just like our support for AQA, we wanted to give schools access to our HE webinars for free.

Notting Hill is the environment for Edexcel’s Migrants in Britain GCSE thematic study, so alongside putting on a free webinar, and after a lot of planning and wrangling over location permits, we set off with Aaron Wilkes and a film crew to Notting Hill to visit and film some key locations to really bring to life the sites and people that make this 30 year study so fascinating. And thus began a brilliant (if slightly exhausting) tour. Aaron and the team had carefully planned out where we would go, to ensure we captured the bustling Portobello Road market, the types of houses that were formerly HMOs, and other locations and places linked to people of significance. A fantastic bonus was spotting blue plaque after blue plaque paying homage to key figures like Claudia Jones, Leslie Palmer and Frank Crichlow, whilst we walked with the most effusive, knowledgeable and interesting tour guide. If Aaron ever stops writing books (which we SINCERELY hope he doesn’t), a London tour company would be very lucky to have him!

An image of Blue plaques taken while filming our Edexcel Migrants in Britain webinar. The plaques celebrate Kelso Cochrane, Claudia Jones, Leslie Palmer, and Rhaune Laslett-O'Brien

We learnt many things: wheel-along suitcases are extremely noisy, the famous Blue Door is actually a bit of a letdown and falafel wraps, whilst delicious, are hazardous for spilling down yourself. See if you can spy which videos were filmed pre and post lunch! But I left this day completely buoyed by all I had learnt and seen, and sincerely hope that we have helped make teaching the Historic Environment for Edexcel’s Migrants in Britain thematic study that little bit easier.

If you have ideas for how Oxford could help support your teaching of the Historic Environment, let us know: [email protected]

Learn more about the Edexcel GCSE History series here.

Watch our free webinar with Aaron: Notting Hill: Teaching the Edexcel Historic Environment for the Migrants in Britain topic