Term 6’s Primary Humanities Network meeting goes virtual once again and well beyond Gloucestershire!


Well, Zoom certainly brought a buzz to my study on Wednesday afternoon!  Not only did I have several ‘regulars’ in attendance at our virtual Primary Humanities Network meeting, but also many new participants; I think we had teachers from as far afield as Cumbria in the north to Dorset in the south and Nottinghamshire in the east to Greater Manchester in the west!

The themes for today’s meeting were decided after reviewing the suggestions given towards the end of our last meeting, namely ‘The Subject Leader’s role and responsibilities‘ and ‘A progression of vocabulary in history and geography‘.

To begin with, I outlined the aims and structure of the afternoon:

Next, I shared a few latest developments in relation to Ofsted’s Education Inspection Framework (EIF), offerings from the leading subject associations, namely the Geographical Association (GA) (https://www.geography.org.uk/) and the Historical Association (HA) (https://history.org.uk/), as well as a few new resources and websites that I have come across in the past couple of weeks.

The GA has recently provided an updated summary of its support for the EIF (https://www.geography.org.uk/Announcements-and-updates/updated-eif-support-/243657), a revised progression framework for geography (https://www.geography.org.uk/eBooks-detail/71c435a8-c548-4e38-80db-2305275fbee5), additions to their podcast library (https://www.geography.org.uk/GeogPod-The-GAs-Podcast), CPD packs (https://www.geography.org.uk/cpd-packs), open access to their critical thinking for achievement resources (https://www.geography.org.uk/Critical-thinking-in-the-classroom), a new section on their website entitled ‘Geography from home’ in support of the current home-learning that is having to take place (https://www.geography.org.uk/geography-from-home) and a resource pack for WorldWise Week 2020 (https://www.geography.org.uk/WorldWise-Week-resource-packs).  I also highlighted a number of useful articles that had been published in the latest edition of their Primary Geography journal (https://www.geography.org.uk/Journals/Primary-Geography).

The HA have been updating and adding schemes of work to the primary area of their website (https://www.history.org.uk/primary/categories/787/news/2122/primary-curriculum-schemes-of-work) and announced a new series of subject knowledge webinars (https://www.history.org.uk/primary/categories/789/news/3845/primary-subject-knowledge-webinars).  Several articles in the summer edition of Primary History were particularly relevant to our foci today, which I also drew attention to.

As a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, the Gloucestershire Heritage Hub (formerly the Gloucestershire Archives) have had to close their doors to the public for the first time in 80 years.  However, they are now giving the public free access to millions of Gloucestershire records.  I suggested that teachers might use this as an opportunity to gather materials to support a local history study or to explore their school log books, which can be a fascinating primary source to evidence (https://www.gloucestershire.gov.uk/gloucestershire-county-council-news/news-june-2020/free-online-access-to-millions-of-gloucestershire-s-historic-records/).

Teachwire’s June magazine focusing on reading and writing has some brilliant ideas for literacy across the curriculum (https://www.teachwire.net/primary).  I shared extracts that had a strong link to geography/history/humanities, including ’10 books that treasure our world’, classroom activities related to Pie Corbett’s story, ‘The Dump’, combining English and History successfully in order to build depth to the curriculum, how to go on an adventure with Jeffrey Alan Love’s evocative picture book, ‘The Hero’s Quest’, and enabling budding writers to study language in its natural habitat.

Earlier this month, The School Run produced an article about the best geography home schooling resources, which I thought might prove useful to many teachers or could be shared with parents/carers to add some variety to home-learning (https://www.theschoolrun.com/best-geography-home-schooling-resources).

Last week, I also received some exciting news from Simon Ross; the geography south west website will have a ‘soft launch’ this week and a more formal one in September 2020 (https://www.geographysouthwest.co.uk/).  I was asked to support both him and John Davidson with the development of the primary section of the website a while ago and its content has been growing and will continue to increase over the next few months.  I suggested that those based in the south west of England should visit the Primary News page every couple of weeks as this is where I shall be adding posts about new websites, useful resources, freebies, competitions, future events, etc. (https://www.geographysouthwest.co.uk/primary/).

I paused for ten minutes or so to allow participants to review some of the material discussed and ask any questions that they may have.

We then moved on to explore the role and responsibilities of the Subject Leader.  I tried to ensure that I gave equal attention to both geography and history.  Firstly, I challenged attendees to a diamond nine activity, which considered some of the most common challenges faced by Subject Leaders.  A couple of days ago, I posed the following question to several Subject Leaders, ‘What are some of the challenges that you face as a Subject Leader?’, and collated their responses.  I used this to create nine statements and provided a diamond nine frame for teachers to use.  They were asked to look at the various statements, then cut them up and place them in an appropriate position on the diamond nine frame that they had been given.  I stressed that there was no right or wrong answer, but that they should be able to justify their choices.  Afterwards, I steered a whole group discussion, which was very revealing; limited Subject Leader time, fieldwork/taking learning outside the classroom, assessment, coverage and progression appeared to be the greatest challenges for most.

We then re-visited Alan Kinder and Dr. Paula Owen’s article, ‘The new Education Inspection Framework through a geographical lens’, which appeared in the Autumn 2019 edition of Primary Geography (https://www.geography.org.uk/Journals/Primary-Geography).  I highlighted what they had written with regard to subject leadership.  They also refer to the Primary Geography Quality Mark (PGQM), which has been redesigned to assist Subject Leaders in reflecting upon their effectiveness (https://www.geography.org.uk/The-Primary-Geography-Quality-Mark-PGQM).  The GA use Pebble Pad as the platform for the submission of applications and there is a wealth of support material provided for teachers to access.  The Subject Leader File is particularly useful and I outlined what a good one might look like (https://v3.pebblepad.co.uk/spa/#/viewer/q6d5G5xxkZGWz7q6tw7jbth3nM?historyId=0QwNPk1vCo&pageId=q6d5G5xxkZGWzbx9hqh5wrsnMW).   The GA’s website has some superb support for Subject Leaders too; ‘Leading geography in the primary school’ (https://www.geography.org.uk/Geography-Subject-Leadership-in-Primary-and-Secondary-Schools/Leading-primary-geography) and ‘The role of the primary Subject Leader’ (https://www.geography.org.uk/The-role-of-the-primary-subject-leader) are well worth a peruse.

Following our last meeting, many requested support with writing a geography or history policy, so I provided a few pointers and some examples to look at (from the GA, HA, David Weatherly of David Weatherly Education (http://davidweatherlyeducation.co.uk/) and Glenn Carter of History Rocks (https://mrcarterrocks.wixsite.com/historyrocks and https://www.facebook.com/historyrocksuk/).  Emma Aldred-Tow, Geography Subject Leader at Churchdown Village Junior School in Gloucester, created a fantastic learning journey on the back of a morning of bespoke curriculum planning that her and I had together (https://create2inspire.co.uk/2019/12/06/curriculum-development-churchdown-village-junior-school-cvjs-gloucestershire/).  She happened to mention this at our last meeting and I promised that I would share a copy with everyone; they were duly impressed!

The HA also has an area of their website dedicated to subject leadership (https://www.history.org.uk/primary/categories/subject-leadership).  As a corporate member, you can access a variety of useful articles, such as ‘writing a history policy’, ‘EYFS: what does good curriculum provision look like?’, ‘The bigger picture: curriculum overview’ and ‘Ofsted: primary guidance 2019’ (https://www.history.org.uk/primary/categories/subject-leader-area).

Furthermore, History Rocks’ website has a section devoted to Subject Leader materials, where you can find ‘A handy guide for new History Coordinators’, a ‘Complete school history audit’ and information about ‘Pupil voice for KS1 and KS2’ (https://mrcarterrocks.wixsite.com/historyrocks/coordinator-materials).

We took a break for refreshments and I then gave participants around half an hour to explore the various web-links and resources.  There was also a chance for teachers to interact with each other via the chat feed or by unmuting their microphone and sharing best practice.  Whilst it is not quite the same as being face-to-face in one room, it certainly proved to be a reasonable substitute under the current and very challenging circumstances.

The second half of the meeting focused on a progression of vocabulary in history and geography.  I spent some time unpicking an article that appeared in the HA’s Primary History journal in Spring 2020, entitled ‘More than just a word list: embedding progress in historical vocabulary teaching’ by Ailsa Fidler.  I projected an example of a knowledge organiser and word mat and we discussed the role of both.  I instigated an activity centred upon creating a progression of vocabulary.  Participants could chose either history or geography or consider both, depending on their role and responsibilities in school.  I provided a few tips as to how to best approach this task and some sources that they might reference in the process, e.g. the new EYFS Framework due for optional implementation in September 2020 and obligatory implementation in September 2021 (https://consult.education.gov.uk/early-years-quality-outcomes/early-years-foundation-stage-reforms/supporting_documents/EYFS%20reforms%20consultation.pdf); the National Curriculum Programme of Study for Geography (https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/239044/PRIMARY_national_curriculum_-_Geography.pdf); the National Curriculum Programme of Study for History (https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/239035/PRIMARY_national_curriculum_-_History.pdf) and various units/schemes of work based on popular themes.  History Rocks’ website also has detail about a history vocabulary builder and KS2 topic specific vocabulary pack, which can be downloaded via the web-links provided (https://mrcarterrocks.wixsite.com/historyrocks/coordinator-materials).  Where some teachers had previously drawn a mental blank with such a task, they now had a document that they could continue working with, which was reassuring for all.

I brought the afternoon’s session to a close with the below activity:

Particpants’ ‘concluding comments’ and suggestions for themes for future meetings can be viewed below:

Sum up today’s meeting in five words or a sentence or two:

‘Thank you so much, very helpful.  I enjoyed the meeting.  It was good to hear more about the role of the Subject Leader and the progression of vocabulary – something that I will definitely look more into.’

‘Thought-provoking, resource rich and found the section on organising the Subject Leader file really useful.’

‘Thank you so much.’

‘Thanks, Emma and everyone.’

‘Really helpful session with some new ideas.’

‘Thank you so much for today.  I feel that I have a much clearer direction now to go in and I am eager to complete my vocabulary and progression documents for English, History and Geography.  Also, the reading across the curriculum is something I am currently sorting out and I feel much more confident.  Once again, thank you and I look forward to the next meeting.’

‘Pointed in the direction of great resources, articles, etc.  Great idea for a clear Subject Leader folder.  Helpful ideas for starting a progression of vocabulary.’

‘Informative; supportive; constructive; well prepared; responsive.

WWW: Makes the job feel possible; good to meet with others in the same role.

EBI: Face to face and conversation was widely held.

Thank you so much, Emma.’

‘Informative; inspiring; clarifying; uplifting; responsive.  Thank you, this has been so helpful.’

‘Thanks, Emma, some excellent resources again. Time to get researching!!!’

‘Great!  Thank you so much for today’s session!  As someone who is new to History and Geography, this has been highly beneficial.  The session was really informative with some great stimulus for discussion and excellent links.  I have plenty to read and digest in more detail now!’

‘Fantastic and topical, well prepared and excellent pointers for articles and relevant information. I am looking forward to going back through and reading the articles suggested. I have a clearer view of how I can lead geography.’

‘Thank you so much for today’s session. 

WWW – Great information on what to include in the Subject Leader folder; also some really useful links and articles and starting points for vocabulary.’

‘Thank you very much for the session this afternoon.   I am glad I was able to join last minute as I have been looking for useful CPD and networking sessions.  I have only taken on the role of Geography and History Leader last September and I am still very much finding my feet.   I feel like I have gained a lot of information and useful resources that I can go and take a look at.  It was also great to have a look at vocabulary progression as that is an area that we need to work on in our school.  I will also look at setting up a file.  The previous Topic Lead left me hers, but I think I need to go and make it my own.’

‘Thank you, Emma, it was really useful – the articles were really interesting.’

‘It was a pleasure to join your meeting today.  Thank you so much.  I really enjoyed it.  I’m leading on history, but really enjoyed investigating geography today too.’

‘Great ideas and articles. Informative.  Great session.  Thank you, Emma.’

‘Up-to-date information, really useful!  Liked having the presentation to refer to during the session too.’

‘Informative; inspiring; reassuring; supportive; useful.’

‘Highly relevant; helpful; inspiring; interesting; enjoyable.’

‘Relevant; detailed; personalised; inspiring; well-prepared.’

‘Lots of ideas, resources, support, articles and guidance.  Thank you.’

‘Thanks very much, Emma, really useful for next steps.’

‘Really helpful, so many useful ideas and links to find things, reassuring, very informative.  Thank you so much.  I’m so glad I’ve managed to attend at last!’

‘Thank you so much!  A brilliant CPD session.  Looking forward to joining the next one.’

‘Informative and supportive.  Useful links to websites.  Really great session.  Thank you.’

‘Engaging; informative; reassuring; inspiring.  Found the Subject Leader file information particularly useful.  Thank you, great session. 

This has been great CPD – thank you so much!’

‘Thank you very much.  This was brilliant.  I look forward to future meetings.’

‘Thank you very much for the Zoom meeting.  I found it really useful and informative, especially for someone who is fairly new to being a Geography Subject Leader.  I found it had really good next steps for me to put into place.’

‘Thank you for all this.  I watched it on Wednesday when I got home.  Really useful again and lots to think about.’

‘I just wanted to thank you for yesterday.  I found it very enjoyable and productive as I’m recently new to the Subject Leader for Geography and History.  With being in a small village school and currently in the process of re-vamping our curriculum, it was very beneficial.  I would be very interested to join in future meetings.’

Possible themes for future meetings:Fieldwork.

  • Fieldwork/’taking learning outside the classroom’.
  • Assessment in history and geography.
  • Moderation/assessment of pupils’ work, e.g. expected, below and above would be useful.
  • Assessing the ‘impact’ of our curriculum.
  • Ideas for EYFS.
  • Looking at constructing a local history study.
  • How to engage colleagues.
  • Looking at historical sources.
  • How to support gifted and talented children in history and geography.
  • Resources and ideas regarding teaching living memory in EYFS and KS1.
  • Using stories/texts as a stimulus.
  • ‘Deep dives’.

I think you will agree that it had been a purposeful and enjoyable way to spend a Wednesday afternoon for many.  I will endeavour to slot in a final meeting before the end of the academic year if at all feasible (most likely during the afternoon of Wednesday 15th July 2020).  Further details will appear on the blog or be sent via e-mail shortly.

In the meantime, stay safe and healthy!


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