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YorkClio training for AQA GCSE schools

We are grateful to AQA for agreeing to hold a training session for YorkClio schools and ITT trainees. This will be held from 4.30-6.30pm on Wednesday 10th January at Millthorpe School. Please contact if you would like to attend.

Project for for the centenary of the Armistice

The York Army Museum would like local students to get involved in documenting and photographing local memorials. Some of us have already done some of this work and it can all be drawn together as part of this project. Museum staff can provide visits to your school to give workshops on documenting war memorials and researching individual soldiers found on those memorials. Workshops will be free of charge and will be designed to fit in 2 one-hour slots. Lesson plans and resources will be shared with teachers so that they are able to deliver workshops to all classes. Students research will contribute to an exhibition from April 2018. There will also be a digital resource made. Please get in touch with Hannah Rogers, Collections Manager at the Army Museum if you would like to find out more about this project. She is on: 01904 461031. Or via:

The Univ of York PGCE History is back!
Great news for history teaching in York… the core PGCE History places have been restored to the University of York. This means that we can offer diverse, highly subject specific training via university-led and school-led routes. Both, of course, are highly successful because of the strength of school AND university partnership we have. (The AND is the key word here!) Please do consider offering a history placement for a trainee if you are not already doing so.
New HA blog!
The HA Secondary committee members have launched a new initiative called ‘One Big History Department’. It exists to share good practice rooted in the ‘history’ of how our ideas about teaching history have developed. You can find it here: OBHD
Update from the HA Secondary Committee Meeting – September 2017

Reps from EduQas and OCR came to update the Committee (all boards were invited):

  • The Welsh Exam board (WJEC) via the name EduQas offer GCSE (not A Level) in England
  • The EduQas/OCR view about how schools need supporting is:
    • Poor teaching of disciplinary concepts at KS3 is coming out of the queries to exam boards. It now matters for achievement at KS4.
    • Some history teachers don’t even seem to be secure on what disciplinary concepts are themselves. There are questions about the quality of teacher training for many new teachers who have come through routes that do not give sufficient specialist training.
    • Teacher understanding about the nature of historical interpretations in particular (as meant by the HA is what the exam boards now use as a definition). Some teachers still don’t seem to understand what is meant by historical interpretations.
    • Not enough seems to be being done at Key Stage 3 to build the historical understanding of historical interpretations.
    • Key Stage 3 planning will need to carefully build a sense of period so that the thematic topic chosen for GCSE does not come as a shock. This does not mean redoing specific content from KS3 to KS4, but does mean looking carefully at how KS3 allows students to build a sense of the relevant time periods for the KS4 thematic.
    • Formulas being given to students for e.g. source work are helping the weaker students, but are limiting the achievement of the most able. Centres need to avoid restricting the top end students, who should be engaging in debate and evaluating and not following formula.
    • Thematic studies still seem to be troubling many colleagues. Young colleagues in particular may not have the breadth of knowledge required to make sense of them in a non-episodic way.
    • Model answers, particularly in textbooks, are not to be relied on.
  • News specifically from OCR:
    • OCR A Level: the following topics are the most popular exam papers – Y1: Britain 1930-97, Early Tudors, Early Stuarts, Later Tudors, and, Y2: Germany, French Rev/Napoleon, Russia and Cold War in Europe, and, Y3: Russia and its Rulers, Civil Rights USA. New options have been equally resources, but not taken up in large numbers, though these score highly for level of engagement.
    • Universities have been so desperate to fill history places this year, there was not the rush of students who had missed grades wanting early re-marks.
    • The OCR non-examined assessment unit was done very well. Schools that allowed students to do the topic that they wanted had the highest satisfaction rates among students. OCR is planning a resources database to help students wanting to do different topics. There was still some misunderstanding by centres of what is meant by historical interpretations. There was some accepting at face value of primary sources.
    • Most AS topics are going to be withdrawn by OCR, as AS is declining. There will be a choice of 3 or 4 only in each unit. There are no current plans to remove any A Level options. OCR and AQA data suggests that AS is dying out fast. The prediction of it settling to 30% AS seems to be far, far too high.
    • OCR have a project with academics, e.g. at SOAS, to resource the less easily accessible topics. Universities are increasingly keen to work with OCR.
    • The examiners’ reports back to the 19th century and across the 20th century are the same as 2017 – the biggest factor stopping kids going from a medium to a higher level at A Level was answering with a learnt response, rather than answering the question set.
    • OCR GCSE A – most seem to be doing Germany, with USA popular. Most centres seem to have picked up war as the thematic, then power (migration about 10%).
    • OCR GCSE B – most centres seem to be doing health and crime (migration about 10%), Normans and Elizabethans, Making of America and a few Vikings, Nazis for the depth. Most sites are castles, followed by industrial sites.
    • OCR are thinking about resources for kids of low English comprehension ability as the textbooks are too complex for a whole cohort of kids.

Highlights of the results of the HA Secondary Survey

  • Reminder that Amanda Spielman’s speech in June was anti-two year KS3 and using GCSE questions and grading in KS3. In the light of this, 44% of respondents saying that KS3 assessment is now based on GCSE grading is alarming. As is the 44% who have 2-year KS3 in their school. The exam boards for history are suggesting that an effective 3-year KS3 curriculum could be more important in GCSE success.
  • There are good models of 3-year KS4, where history departments are not starting GCSE content at the start of Year 9, but still thinking of it as a whole history curriculum for 5 (or 7) years.
  • On another more positive note, one third of departments have a more relevant model of KS3 assessment in operation with the passing of NC levels.
  • There continues to be concern about the provision at KS4 for lower attainers and the amount of non-specialists teaching, including KS4.
  • As expected, uptake for A Level History has fallen with the demise of AS Level as a stand-alone qualification.
  • 37% of respondents were concerned by the drop in the quality of candidates for history jobs.

In other news, the pilot for Chartered History Teacher is now under way. Please contact Helen or Ruth if you would like to be part of this pilot.

Autumn Calendar for YPS lectures

Here is the new Autumn programme for the Yorkshire Philosophical Society: YPS Lecture Programme Sept to Dec 2017 Lots of interesting topics for teachers and older students. Please publicise within schools!

History Nerds

We have decided to launch a group for really able Y11-6th formers across the city. The first meeting will be on Monday 25th September 2017 and James Walvin has kindly agreed to talk about his research into slavery. We’re meeting at Bootham School at 6pm and there is a new page on the site where we will post specific info. The aim is to hold a meeting once a term to challenge and support our most able young historians in schools across the city.

Rethinking the Normans!

It was great to see so many of York’s history teachers at the HA’s CPD event at the Tower of London. York was fairly over-represented on a very hot June day, and we all enjoyed subject knowledge updating, getting resources and new ideas for teaching the Normans and the chance to ‘nerd’ around the Tower without queuing.

Oxford Secondary School Liaison Committee

Yorkclio is now part of this. The Committee meets once a year in the Easter holidays. We will send a representative each year who can take knowledge of the York context to the meeting and report back to keep us all updated on matters relating to applications for History to the University of Oxford.

York ISSP Centenary Battlefields Presentation at the National Railway Museum

It was lovely to be back together as York history students and teachers to receive the National Award for our Legacy 110 project. The National Railway Museum hosted the evening. Students who developed both the Minster event and the ‘1916: It’s More than the Somme’ exhibition, were presented with books, certificates and badges. We all then took part in the NRM’s ‘Mud and Morphine’ experience to learn more about WW1 ambulance trains.


HA Secondary Committee update

The new blog called ‘onebighistorydepartment’ will be launching in September 2017 to provide a place where quick solutions to teaching problems are connected to the HA’s wider resources and helpful materials about teaching and learning. If you want to contribute, please get in touch. As always, the Committee is really keen to hear from you about how the HA can best support your teaching and your department. The 2017 HA survey will be in schools next term. Please take time to complete it, it really helps the HA to make evidence based argument on behalf of history teachers. There is some good CPD coming up. Have you signed up for Northern Forum on 30th March? Look out for the British Library Russian Revolution exhibition with accompanying course. HA, with the Royal Geographical Assoc., are organising an event on the theme of tackling GCSE questions. The Normans will be the subject of free CPD at the Tower of London in June – watch this space! Chartered Teacher status will be piloted from next term. We hope that York will be one of the pilot areas and will be looking for volunteers. Waterloo 200 are funding the teacher fellowship programme in 2018. It will be on the theme of the Age of Revolution – the later 18th and early 19th centuries. There will also be competitions for students, including a battlefield visit and new schemes of work.


GCSE choices

A reminder of what schools have chosen and collaboration possibilities:

AQA: Fulford, The Mount, Manor, Millthorpe, All Saints, York High

  • Power and the People: Fulford, The Mount, Manor, York High
  • Medicine: Millthorpe, All Saints
  • Germany: Millthorpe, All Saints
  • USA: Fulford, Manor, York High
  • Normans: Fulford, Millthorpe
  • Elizabeth: All Saints, The Mount, York High
  • Korea/Vietnam: Millthorpe, All Saints

OCR B: Huntington and Ryedale

  • sharing on all except for Norman/Elizabeth difference

Ed Excel: AHS, Jo Ro – overlap with Germany, Cold War and crime and punishment

Eduqas: Barlby

iGCSE: Bootham

Ryedale have Crime and Punishment resources they can pass on – possibly books?  Huntington teach Elizabeth at A level so have a lot of expertise and resources to tap into too.  Manor are just finishing teaching iGCSE and can pass on their resources / expertise.

HA Quality Mark

Working through the Historical Association Quality Mark criteria might be a great way to move forward as a department. Further information is here: Quality Mark.  The HA will also be launching Charter Teacher status next year. We will explore this in future meetings.