It feels very strange sitting at home typing this blog on the first day of the new school year, knowing that after 30 years in the History classroom, I am not sitting in a school hall listening to the exam feedback and Headteacher’s (sometimes un)inspiring vision for the year. Instead, I am embarking on a new journey, balancing part time teaching at Park View school, with the Director of the Schools History Project.
When I was applying for the role, I was fortunate to be able to reach out to many people that I’ve known through SHP over the last two decades. Without exception, everyone was incredibly supportive and excited for me, and this gave me enormous confidence in pursuing my ambition. What was equally apparent was the overwhelming sense of love for SHP and the desire to maintain the project at the heart of school’s history education.
After attending my first conference in 2005 I knew immediately that I had found my History teaching home. Ian Dawson’s final Saturday night extravaganza in 2013 was titled ‘It might be history to some people, but to us it’s family, pet’, I can’t think of a more fitting way to embody what SHP means to so many people. Through SHP I have been given many wonderful opportunities to develop my career, work with the most inspiring people in the History teaching profession and create life-long friends. As Director of the Project, I want to stimulate similar opportunities for History teachers and educators across the UK through creating a learning community, based on the SHP principles, that is exciting, engaging, rigorous and nurturing.
I strongly believe we are on the cusp of a new dawn in History education. There is a growing desire to weave in new narratives into the mainstream; to promote historical thinking that is rigorous, stimulating and relevant to our students’ lives. SHP has a fantastic legacy in championing Active Learning and will continue to foster History teaching that is engaging, accessible and meaningful. The work that the Curriculum Paths Project (Curriculum Paths Overview) has undertaken in designing alternative models of History curricula has also shown the strength and influence that SHP has in this field.
We have an exciting year ahead of us, which will culminate in our summer conference back once again at Leeds Trinity (dates tbc). As always you can expect some stimulating plenaries, inspiring workshops and opportunities to meet up with old friends and make new ones. We will also be running our New Teachers Conference early in 2024 and hosting some SHP Understanding webinars (provisional topics under discussion include Women in Medieval England and LGBTQ+ histories). SHP is also closely involved in a potential research and teaching project about indigenous histories with the University of Sheffield.
Our partnerships with OCR and Hodder Education continue to flourish. I’m very excited to be able to deliver some training for OCR and the Museum of London at their free CPD event in December (OCR MoL event) for teachers of the migration course for OCR B. I’m also looking forward to visiting OCR HQ to discuss reforms to the SHP exam specifications. We’ve also started conversations with Hodder Education looking at ways in which we can support them to bring in the latest scholarship, and widen the representation, in their GCSE History publishing.
I have always felt that one of the greatest strengths of SHP is the mentoring that it provides to the history education community. I’d like to pay this forward with my final thoughts. At my first SHP conference I delivered a workshop on ways to introduce more Black British History in schools, inspired by one of my mentors, Hakim Adi, the founder of the Black and Asian Studies Association. Hakim went on to be appointed as the only Professor of the History of Africa and the African Diaspora in the UK by the University of Chichester. However, last month he was made redundant and his MRes course on the History of Africa and the African Diaspora has been dropped. SHP’s guiding principles include a commitment to ‘promoting diverse content, diverse approaches to the study of history and a focus on the diverse experiences of people in the past’ and ‘to build a deeper understanding of the present by engaging with and questioning the past’. Just as more and more schools are integrating Black history into their curricula, the axing of a course that both deepens and widens the pool of Black teachers and academics, could have an impact on both teachers’ access to Black history research and the numbers of Black history teachers. If you would like to support the campaign to save the MRes you can find more details here (Save MRes Campaign | History Matters ).
Finally, if you have any suggestions, comments or questions about the Schools History Project then I would really love to hear from you. You can contact me at email@example.com
Have a fantastic start to the new school year and I will be back in touch soon.
Director of the Schools History Project