It was back to one of the schools that I spent seven happy years teaching at today. However, this time it was not to teach, but to deliver a session to GITEP trainees (‘So, what does history look like in primary schools?’) after being approached by Rebecca Rose, Teacher of History, ITE Training Manager and NQT Induction Tutor, as well as GITEP History Subject Leader.
After introducing myself, I shared the aims of the session, namely:
- To become more familiar with the processes and procedures of inspection now undertaken by Ofsted (new Education Inspection Framework – EIF).
- To consider the changes to the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) Framework and their impact on primary history.
- To ‘unpick’ the National Curriculum programme of study for history at Key Stages 1 and 2.
- To identify common themes in primary schools and appreciate how history is often delivered.
- To showcase websites and resources for use with primary-aged pupils (may be useful with students at Key Stage 3 too).
- To be more informed so that the teaching and learning of history at Key Stage 3 and beyond is more effective.
I began with the ‘question generator’ activity to ensure attendees were involved right from the start:
Afterwards, I projected a couple of pages from the Geographical Association (GA)’s ‘Critical thinking in practice’ guide (https://www.geography.org.uk/write/MediaUploads/Support%20and%20guidance/Critical_Thinking_in_practice_guide_final.pdf), which exemplifies how the ‘question generator’ can be a fantastic way to set up pupil-led enquiry, including one case study from Alison Pryce at Guilsborough C of E VA Primary School in Northamptonshire, where it had been used to improve children’s questions in Year 1.
We moved on to consider the Education Inspection Framework (EIF) launched by Ofsted in September 2019 in some depth. Not only did I highlight Ofsted’s presence on social media where updates can easily be sourced, but also referenced the leading subject association, The Historical Association (HA), and the support that it has been offering: https://www.history.org.uk/primary/categories/309/resource/9648/ofsted-primary-guidance-2019. The HA have produced ‘A guide to what primary schools might expect from the new Education Inspection Framework (EIF) 2019’, as well as a link to the HA Annual Conference keynote given by Heather Fearn, Inspector Curriculum and Professional Development Lead at Ofsted, entitled ‘The new Ofsted Education Inspection Framework’ (https://www.history.org.uk/primary/resource/9646/film-the-new-ofsted-education-inspection-framewor). Furthermore, the HA are beginning to develop their Primary Subject Leaders’ Area (https://www.tab-home.com/web/?source=f81bbbc285f440909a566a6f562dc926), with articles about ‘Writing a history policy’, ‘EYFS: What does good curriculum provision look like?’ and ‘The bigger picture: Curriculum overview’ being uploaded recently.
We also discussed the infamous ‘deep dives’ that are key features of the new EIF and I shared a superb web-link, which explores six ideas for taking a ‘deep dive’ with FREE resources (https://www.teachwire.net/news/6-ideas-for-taking-a-curriculum-deep-dive-with-resources?utm_source=teachprimary&utm_medium=20200103&utm_campaign=newsletter). We looked at an example of a knowledge organiser for use with Key Stage 2 teachers and students studying the Romans (https://www.teachitprimary.co.uk/resources/y3/romans/romans-knowledge-organiser/35340), as well as the concept of ‘dual coding’ (https://twitter.com/CampbellGeog). Knowledge organisers are quite a contested phenomena and I displayed a few different viewpoints from members of the GA and HA Primary Committees and leading authors about their use. Another great article was produced on Third Space Learning’s website recently too, which is well worth a read if you are a little anxious about questions that you may be asked and how best to respond to them in conjunction with a ‘deep dive’ (https://thirdspacelearning.com/blog/ofsted-deep-dive-questions/?utm_campaign=06_12_2019_Ofsted_Deep_Dive_Blog&utm_medium=email&utm_source=Pardot&utm_content=text).
Another characteristic of the new EIF is the promotion of ‘reading across the curriculum’. I linked to a PDF produced by Teachwire, which highlighted ’10 books to delve into history’; memorable children’s stories can certainly be a rich source of inspiration for writing, discussion and discovering more about the past. Number 2 on their list was ‘Milly Molly Mandy’; I used a story from this series to ‘kick off’ a WW1 themed week at Hempsted C of E Primary School back in 2014 and the children loved it, as well as the detailed black and white sketches and map of the village. The HA also has a section on its website dedicated to literacy (https://www.history.org.uk/primary/categories/literacy). I discussed three recent articles that had appeared in their Primary History journal, which all took a text and exemplified how it could be used to support the teaching of history; ‘Ma’ats Feather’; ‘Time for a story’ and ‘Using Horrible Histories to develop primary history and literacy’. In addition, I directed teachers to The Week Junior’s website, where there is a wealth of material to download, e.g. lesson plans; pupil resources, including non-fiction text (https://www.theweekjuniorschools.co.uk/lesson-plans/learn-all-about-ve-day?utm_source=teach-primary&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=teach-primary-lesson-email). Cross-curricular opportunities are clearly identified too, illustrating how history (or geography) can act as the ‘steering wheel’ for ‘driving’ a connected, creative curriculum in primary schools. February 2020 was Michael Morpurgo month (https://www.michaelmorpurgo.com/morpurgomonth/). Here, you can search for books with a historical theme, e.g. war; legends, as well as explore a bank of teaching resources to utilise in the classroom.
Mention was also made to ‘cultural capital’. I displayed an extract from Helen Moylett’s guest blog, which appeared on Early Education’s website not long ago; a must read for teachers at any stage in education, in fact (https://www.early-education.org.uk/news/guest-blog-helen-moylett-ofsted’s-thinking-cultural-capital-some-concerns-and-questions). This led nicely to the Early Years Foundation Stage reforms (https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/early-years-foundation-stage-reforms) that have been proposed and I pointed out specific reference to history in the ELG ‘Understanding the World’ (‘ELG Past and Present’) (https://www.foundationyears.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/EYFSP-Pilot-Handbook-2018.pdf). The revised framework should be published very soon, ready for its implementation from September 2020 (first on a voluntary basis and then obligatory from September 2021).
Stuart Tiffany, aka Mr T Does Primary History on Facebook, sent me a link to a movie clip that he had created, which summed up his reaction to a recent Ofsted inspection back in November 2019 (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hgMF1Xq3z9w&fbclid=IwAR0CeOzBjg5qMiBNdeoqh-w-PeifOw51b8y2qI7Y5KAfe_FgmDpFxeVb4qQ). Since this clip is quite lengthy and we only had a limited amount of time, I simply showed a couple of minutes to relay the key messages to my audience.
The main part of the session concentrated on ‘implementation’. I ‘unpicked’ the National Curriculum Programme of Study for History at Key Stages 1 and 2 (https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/239035/PRIMARY_national_curriculum_-_History.pdf) and linked to the superb progression and assessment document published by the HA when the new National Curriculum came into force in 2014 (https://www.exeter.ac.uk/media/universityofexeter/collegeofsocialsciencesandinternationalstudies/education/pgce/pre-coursedocuments/pre-coursedocuments2018-19/Progression_in_History_under_the_2014_National_Curriculum.pdf). The HA has a section on its website purely for primary (https://history.org.uk/primary), where curriculum-related material and the latest resources can be found. There are also numerous schemes of work and their accompanying resources that can be downloaded (https://www.history.org.uk/primary/categories/787/news/2122/primary-curriculum-schemes-of-work), several of which have been revised or added within the last couple of months. Hodder Education launched their new Rising Stars History and Geography series last September (https://www.risingstars-uk.com/subjects/historyandgeography). Not only can you download a whole school curriculum map and one specific to history, but you are also able to see a sample unit (and could even trial it on a future visit to a primary school, perhaps?). Harper Collins have their Primary Connected History and Geography series (http://davidweatherlyeducation.co.uk/images/collins-history-and-geography-connected-brochure.pdf), which truly embraces enquiry-led, outcomes-driven learning. Again, there is sample material that can be viewed via its website. Teachit Primary (https://www.teachitprimary.co.uk/) has a section devoted to the Foundation Subjects, which is worth a peruse. The School Run’s Homework Help (https://www.theschoolrun.com/welcome-homework-gnome) has an area geared to history, which is then sub-divided into various themes. Here, you can gain background information to the topic, links to websites, ideas for trips, cross-curricular activities, etc. The National Archives has part of its website dedicated to ‘education sessions and resources’ (https://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/education/sessions-and-resources/?key-stage=ks2%2Cks1); you can use the filter tool to help you search for a particular time period, key stage or resource type too. Additionally, English Heritage has a collection of teaching resources to tap into (https://www.english-heritage.org.uk/learn/). Historic England’s website (https://historicengland.org.uk/services-skills/education/) is well worth exploring to discover more about their ‘Heritage Schools’ project, ‘Teaching activities’ and ‘List’ (https://historicengland.org.uk/listing/), which can be hugely supportive to any local history study. Although several trainees were already regular visitors to the Schools History Project and Key Stage History websites, they had not really investigated the primary content (http://www.schoolshistoryproject.co.uk/resource/1-primary/ and https://www.keystagehistory.co.uk/). Wildgoose Education has some good history, geography and humanities resources on offer for use at Key Stages 1 and 2 and I referred to theirs based on the Maya as this is a very popular theme in primary schools (https://www.wildgoose.education/maya/back-2-front-the-maya). Participants had the chance to log into the latest version of Digimap for Schools (https://digimapforschools.edina.ac.uk/), so that they could investigate its potential for downloading old and new maps of their local area, as well as delve into its library of primary history resources. Furthermore, I linked to Glenn Carter’s History Rocks! website and his comments on the new EIF (https://mrcarterrocks.wixsite.com/historyrocks/post/history-and-the-new-ofsted-framework). Glenn is a highly regarded primary school teacher and sits on the HA Primary Committee as well. We explored his suggestions for making history fun (https://mrcarterrocks.wixsite.com/historyrocks/post/how-do-you-make-history-fun) and how the subject can be brought to life through the use of technology (https://mrcarterrocks.wixsite.com/historyrocks/post/bringing-history-to-life-with-technology). Glenn had very kindly put together a movie clip for me, which discussed the best history apps that are currently available, many of which could also be integrated at KS3.
Lastly, I considered a few quick, easy and cost-effective ways to ‘take learning outside the classroom’ as mentioned in the HA’s spring and summer editions of its Primary History journal (https://www.history.org.uk/publications/resource/9640/emerging-historians-in-the-outdoors; https://www.history.org.uk/publications/resource/9548/teaching-local-history-through-a-family; https://www.history.org.uk/publications/resource/9632/using-a-house-for-your-local-history-study and https://www.history.org.uk/publications/categories/299/resource/9647/primary-history-summer-resource-2019-diversity) and emphasised local history links to exploit, such as the Gloucester Culture Trust (https://gloucesterculture.org.uk/education/) and the Gloucestershire Heritage Hub, formerly the Gloucestershire Archives (https://www.gloucestershire.gov.uk/heritage-hub/).
I had hoped that trainees would be able to ‘hot seat’ and then have an informal chat with some local primary teachers over refreshments, but, unfortunately, many of my local contacts could not be released from their teaching duties. However, this did give attendees more time to explore the above weblinks and resources at their leisure and to ask both Rebecca Rose and myself any pertinent questions that they had.
I drew the session to a close with a couple of reflective activities:
Nearly all participants’ initial questions had been answered and they were able to identify many things that they had learnt about history in primary schools today. A few of their ‘question generators’ are included here:
The ‘concluding comments’ from their post-it notes can be found below:
Sum up today’s workshop in five words/a sentence of two:
‘Informative; useful; enligtening; enriching; insightful.’
‘Enriching; insightful; helpful; tech-rich.’
‘Enriching; useful; fascinating; deep; insightful.’
‘Enquiry-focused; thematic approach; insightful.’
‘Full of important primary information.’
‘Information about the primary curriculum and lots of ideas for resources.’
‘Primary history should work alongside developing other subject skills.’
‘Primary history is non-specialist, but varied and developing.’
Possible themes for future sessions:
- Transition from primary to secondary.
- Links between (transition) KS2 and KS3. ‘The lost term’. Regression.
- Numeracy in history.
- Assessment for history in primary school.
- Wide variety of assessment methods.
- Look at pupil work from primary history.
- Managing different levels of ‘cultural capital’.
- Different cultural backgrounds at primary.
- Sensitive historical topics.
- How to handle controversial topics in history.
- How much do we present modern historians’ perceptions?
Not a bad way to spend a Thursday afternoon, it seems! Good luck when you visit your primary school for a spot of teaching the week after next!