May brings lots of exciting opportunities, but the highlight of the calendar for me has to be the Historical Association Conference. This year it is taking place on the 17th-18th May in Chester – a city steeped in History, which should inspire your teaching from Key Stage 1 through to A Level. Every year, I doubt that the conference could be as good as the year before, and every year I am wrong. This year is no exception, with a programme filled with sessions to boost your love of History in and out of the classroom.
I last attended the conference 6 years ago when I was running a department with inexperienced colleagues and a new Key Stage 3 (KS3) curriculum being introduced, so I went to workshops with a focus on curriculum development, teaching second order concepts, and developing context. However, my focus has shifted now, and I have picked workshops that will allow me to consider content from a more diverse perspective, putting people back in the centre of the story. Here are the sessions you can expect to find me at:
Angelina Osborne: Reflections on Black British Radical Thought and Activism during the 1970s
There was no question for me that I would sign up for Angelina Osborne’s workshop and listen to her share examples of Black activism during the 1970s. Although it is from a London perspective, I am confident the voices I hear will also tell a story closer to home. History is often criticised for being white, middle-class, male centric (it is!), but it is up to all of us to make sure we share diverse stories and histories with the students we teach. I am particularly looking forward to using this focus when teaching Twentieth Century in Britain (at KS3) and Power and People c1170-present day (at KS4), as I know my students will gain so much from seeing this history from the perspective of women of colour.
Mary Brown: Making people in the past meaningful and memorable
My school, along with many others, have adopted a knowledge-rich approach to teaching – something that is supported by the new 4th Edition of the Aaron Wilkes KS3 History series. A good knowledge-rich approach should develop contextual understanding and certainly in History teaching, it should give a sense of culture and characteristics of a time-period. This session with Mary Brown will offer a range of examples of culture and time-period through all Key Stages to help put people at the heart of what we teach. I am also hopeful that this session will help me teach a more ‘narrative’ type of history, something that is an essential part of both KS3 and 4. The description for the session says we will look at ballads – I’m really hoping for a sing-song!
Carmel Bones and Anne Jackson: History hacks – habits to make efficient use of Key Stage 4 time
Carmel Bones always delivers fresh ideas, activities and strategies – and this session will make your teaching better! One of the main gripes I hear all teachers make is that there is just so much to get through with at GCSE, which means we put so much pressure on ourselves to embed content, context and first order concepts at KS3. What we really need is for students to have more agency, to be the kind of confident students who could go into any situation and ‘give it a go’. This session promises to deliver a range of techniques to deepen understanding and help students to have ownership when consolidating what we teach them.
Jason Todd and Chris Lewis: Bringing the untold stories of black Tudors into the classroom
My last session is another opportunity for me to enrich my KS3 teaching in two ways: firstly, how to ‘illuminate the black presence in Britain’ and secondly, how to use academic texts in the classroom from Year 7 onwards (a quick aside: using academic texts to help students extend their vocabulary choices and formulate persuasive arguments is something I’m passionate about, and I shared a few lesson ideas in the History Word Gap resource pack). The historian Miranda Kaufmann’s book Black Tudors: The Untold Story has been well received, with reviews describing an exciting and engaging look at Tudor England – this is an example of just what a well-trodden path of KS3 content needs.
I have picked sessions that will allow me to embed good practice at KS3, which will continue to enrich and enliven my teaching at KS4. I wanted to focus on more diverse History with the people who made that history – where appropriate – at the centre of my teaching. Whatever you, your department, or your students need, I’m sure you will find it at the HA conference on the 17th and 18th of May, if not in a session, in a conversation with another teacher over lunch. Talk to everyone and get as many emails as you can. I’ll see you there!