Since 1972, when the Schools History Project began, the teaching of history in our schools has been transformed. Much of SHP’s distinctive original philosophy has been incorporated into the mainstream. However, there is much that has still to be achieved. The Schools History Project believes that the study of history in schools is more vital than ever. It campaigns for a school curriculum in which the distinctive contribution of history to the education of children and young people is recognised and developed.
- A determination to connect history to young people’s lives was the foundation of the original Schools Council History Project. Many young people still find it difficult to articulate why they are studying history. As history educators we need to make our subject meaningful for all children and young people by relating history to their lives in the 21st century. The Project strives for a history curriculum which encourages children and young people to become curious, to develop their own opinions and values based on a respect for evidence, and to build a deeper understanding of the present by engaging with and questioning the past.
- Engaging in the process of historical enquiry and interrogating evidence were central to the original philosophy of SHP. The potential for pupils to undertake historical enquiry, to use historical sources constructively, to engage with a range of historical interpretations and to communicate their understanding in creative and historically rigorous ways has yet to be fully realised. The Schools History Project believes that the following features should underpin the learning of history in schools: building knowledge; pursuing historical enquiries; engaging with evidence and interpretations; communicating in rigorous and creative ways
- The ‘study in development’ was a core aspect of SHP’s original philosophy. Understanding the connection between past and present, and changes and continuities across time, are vital dimensions of historical study. The Project helps children and young people to develop a deeper knowledge of the past, a strong sense of period, and to construct robust chronological frameworks. A focus on changes and continuities in human affairs over long periods of time is central to SHP’s work.
- A particular hallmark of the original Schools History Project was the emphasis it placed on diversity. SHP believes that the history curriculum is often too narrowly defined, and that it should continue to offer more opportunities for children and young people to study: a range of periods in history; civilisations and cultures beyond Europe; local and family history; social and cultural history. SHP campaigns for a history curriculum that reflects the continuing social, cultural and ethnic diversity of Britain. The Schools History Project promotes diverse content, diverse approaches to the study of history and a focus on the diverse experiences of people in the past.
- Generating an interest in, and knowledge of, the historic environment has been a core principle of the Schools History Project since its inception. Engaging with ‘history around us’, and considering what the historic environment can tell us about people’s lives and beliefs in the past, are some of the most stimulating aspects of learning history. The Project believes that there should be more opportunities for children and young people to study ‘history around us’ and it continues to develop innovative approaches to the study of the historic environment.
- The Schools History Project believes that learning history should be an enjoyable and life-enhancing experience for all children and young people, providing the foundations for lifelong thinking and engagement with history. SHP is committed to developing approaches to teaching and learning that combine enjoyment and active engagement with historical rigour.
Embedding the principles
The Schools History Project strives to embed these principles in children’s and young people’s experience of school history by:
- providing a clear and distinctive voice in national debate and decision-making about the future of school history
- actively engaging with history educators in the UK, and in other countries, to investigate and develop different approaches to studying history
- producing high-quality and innovative learning resources based on our developing understanding of how children and young people learn
- offering history teachers inspiring professional development through its annual conferences and website