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Independent Enquiry

This guidance is based on Martyn Ellis’s workshop at the 2009 SHP Conference: “Sir, can we teach Year 12 again?” – Getting Year 7 to focus on independent enquiry.

Martyn’s workshop was based on his own reflective practice in helping Year 7 students to pursue an independent enquiry on an aspect women’s suffrage in Britain. The workshop featured a sequence of lessons through which he thought very carefully about the structures that students needed in order to help them become more independent enquirers. At the end of the enquiry, some of the Year 7 students communicated their findings by planning a lesson for Martyn’s AS level history group on their chosen issue: the extent to which the First World War was the crucial factor in women gaining the vote. The AS students were rather in awe of their new teachers!

The guidance includes:

  • Martyn’s workshop notes
  • A version of the PowerPoint presentation that Martyn used in his workshop
  • A selection of support materials that you can adapt for different enquiries and for your own students.


Download the material here.

Workshop Notes, Resource 1 [ click here ]

The PowerPoint, Pesource 2 – Note it’s a large file (9MB) [ click here ]

Question Stems, Resource 3a [ click here ]

Enquiry Planning Sheet 1, Resource 3b [ click here ]

Enquiry Planning Sheet 2, Resource 3c [ click here ]

Completed Enquiry Planning Sheet, Resource 3d [ click here ]

Making Your Own Notes, Resource 3e [ click here ]

Workshop Notes, Resource 1

Martyn’s workshop notes cover four areas that he considers to be crucial in supporting independent enquiry:

  • Creating interest and building initial knowledge
  • Helping students to devise enquiry questions and to plan their research
  • Developing research skills
  • Helping students to communicate creatively and effectively

The workshop notes refer to PowerPoint slides and to student support materials that you can find in resources 2 and 3.

PowerPoint Notes, Resource 2

Martyn’s PowerPoint begins with a focus on the requirements for independent enquiry in the National Curriculum at Key Stage 3. It then explores the different phases of historical enquiry and the strategies that we can use to support students in each phase. The final slides were produced by a Year 7 pupil for her lesson with the AS history group.

Student Resource Materials, Resources 3a-3e

These are some of the resources that Martyn found particularly useful in supporting students’ independent enquiries on women’s suffrage.

They can easily be adapted for use with different enquiries and with your own students.