Aim: To enhance Key Stage 3 students’ understanding of the First World War and improve their historical skills through the sharing of national histories with other students, schools and countries.
Background: A link to a school in France offered the opportunity to work collaboratively with students from another country. The topic of the First World War was deemed easily accessible for both sets of students.
Year 1: The project was launched with an initial group of Year 7 and 8 students, who successfully exchanged and evaluated their work on the First World War with the partner school in France. The department also visited battlefield sites. Students evaluated the project through questionnaires highlighting how the project had deepened and enhanced their knowledge and understanding of the First World War, and staff carried out reflections on the impact of the project on their teaching and learning.
Year 2 : Students continued to communicate with pupils from the partner school, and they swapped and evaluated their diary entries. Students evaluated the project and completed two assessments throughout the year to track their progress. A staff member delivered an ‘Outstanding’ lesson to a Year 8 group on the First World War, with special attention paid to knowledge and understanding.
Year 3: An online platform was created where students could access and share information about the First World War with students from France. Students completed two assessed pieces of work on the First World War and a member of the department delivered a CPD session based on the project.
Evidence: Work created by students at Five Ways and the partner school, assessments on the First World War, student questionnaires.
Impact: The assessment scores of students who took part in the project improved during the course of the two years they were involved, and lesson observations showed improvements in staff knowledge and expertise too. Delivering CPD to colleagues helped to broaden that understanding.
An unintended but positive consequence was increased uptake of History at GCSE, as the project formed an integral part of the Year 8 curriculum around the time that students were considering their options. The project also formed part of the evidence that enabled the school to be awarded the British Council International Award.
Reflections: The idea of collaborative teaching and learning clearly has merits and is of value to our students. However, a project of this scope and magnitude with such a subjective question title posed a number of issues. While there is hard evidence to suggest that students’ knowledge and understanding of the First World War did indeed improve from being part of the project, how much of this was down to the collaborative nature of the project is hard to determine.
The exchange of student work was successful, and questionnaires demonstrated improvements in knowledge and understanding of the First World War. However, there were logistical issues with sharing work, such as the limitations of various platforms and issues with translation.
Contact: Jamie Jones, Subject Leader of History, email@example.com