Following the success of its trial run in 2017, the Faculty of History is expanding its creation of teaching resources for GCSE students, continuing its focus on ‘Migration, Empire and the Peoples’ and emphasising the long history (starting in 970 AD) of British inter-connectedness with the wider world. The resources do not simply recycle facts from existing textbooks. They are freely downloadable, written by History Faculty staff and students and focus on the research being carried out here: they take our research into the classroom.
The project aims to broaden its existing scope in this new push, offering resources on ever wider historical moments, movements, and individuals, with the aim of supporting teachers in their GCSE provision as well as offering their students further points of reference than is ordinarily covered by core course provisions. The resources contributed by our authors are designed not to adhere specifically to one syllabus or another but, rather, to draw on core issues and themes that teachers might use for their own focusses within the classroom. This work comes as part of a recognition of the huge workloads teachers are already under and a desire to assist them in broadening their provision in areas that they are unlikely to have time to research fully themselves when lesson-planning. The resources provided are intended ideally as plans that teachers can simply pick up and go with, but many of our authors provide further background and suggested reading to teachers so that, if they wish to work more thoroughly on the topic or related themes, they might easily find further resources for themselves or, indeed, for curious students wishing to pursue their own inquiries. Authors offer multimedia resources – particularly in the form of images, but also in video and audio formats – to diversify access to their areas of specialism, again offering teachers alternative means with which to approach periods and individuals, removing barriers such as access to specialist repositories and databases.
A priority of this project has, of course, been to consistently ensure that the resources produced for teachers are genuinely practicable within the classroom and, additionally, are not a source of further work for already stretched educators. As such, teachers and the Oxford Deanery have been involved in consultation on the project from its conception, including a teachers’ workshop in 2017. The workshop, organised by Miles Larmer and Jeannie Scott, was attended by History teachers from local state schools who discussed the project’s scope with the team and advised on what they would find most beneficial. The notes and feedback from this event assisted in the creation of core templates and documentation for the project, which are now sent out to prospective authors to use when drafting their resources. Crucially, teachers were also asked about how students liked to access resources, such as through multimedia materials, and if there were particular formats within the resources themselves that would help teachers quickly picking up a resource to assemble everything needed to get a lesson underway. This is not to say that our authors are denied autonomy in how they present their research but, rather, to help them in assembling genuinely useful resources that will receive the most use by teachers within the classroom by providing practicable and inspiring routes of access to GCSE-age historians. Authors are supported throughout the writing process in finalising their topic and identifying it through useful keywords that teachers are likely to be using in their searches, and are additionally assisted, as required, with copyright permissions and accessibility of their chosen visual and auditory resources. The aim is to ensure that teachers receive feasible and fascinating resources for their classes, whilst our authors are supported as much as possible to acknowledge the generosity of the time and expertise they are offering.
We’re currently looking for enthusiastic historians to contribute to our newest round of resource production. We have been recruiting amongst our DPhil students, researchers, and History post-holders to create as wide a range of options for teachers to utilise as possible, aiming to diversify the current spectrum of teaching provision through these dynamic GCSE-targeted materials. Our authors are supported every step of the way to ensure their work is of genuine use to teachers and so that they are neither duplicating existing materials nor creating documents that cannot be readily used by educators. We are working with authors who sometimes possess direct teaching experience, but also those who are new to understanding the specific requirements of secondary teaching, so we would be excited to hear from any alumni who might also be interested in joining our cohort of writers. Teachers who are interested in using the project resources or who would like to offer feedback or suggestions for the existing documents, can make contact and additionally join our Teacher Mailing List by emailing the details below. Interested authors should also use the same email address to express interest and our Teaching Resources Officer will get in touch to discuss your proposed subject in order to ensure your brief is clear before you commence work. We hope that this shared expertise between researchers and educators will allow teachers and students to enjoy broader coverage of historical concepts and moments, encouraging an enjoyment of the discipline in students who may not pursue historical study beyond their GCSEs, as well as those who may be awakened by sources of interest to propel their continued interest in historical study – at A-levels and beyond.
Dr Cheryl Birdseye