Aim: To enthuse students in History activities beyond the curriculum and to increase the numbers continuing with History at university level.
Background: The department was already very successful, with high uptake at GCSE and A Level, but there was a desire to enthuse pupils who were less natural historians.
Year 1: A more formal programme of extracurricular activities was planned, including a History Club where students generated the ideas explored (e.g. a Henry VIII lonely hearts column; disgusting jobs from Medieval times, Victorian food Come Dine With Me). Other enrichment activities included lunchtime ‘History in Breadth’ sessions, which were regularly attended by 6-14 students, and an essay writing competition intended to help students who were applying to Oxbridge gain greater confidence and extended vocabulary.
Year 2: The bank of resources for students developed further with an expanding DVD library and a History lending library which were both well used. Enrichment activities continued and the History in Breadth sessions were altered to include information currently in the news to make them more relevant and help students prepare for university applications and interviews. 15 students attended regularly and feedback was very positive. Staff attended continuing professional development (CPD) to prepare for the new curriculum. Subject uptake at GCSE and A Level remained high and staff helped pupils increase their awareness of choices involving History at university.
Year 3: History in Breadth sessions were broadened to include pupils from Year 10 onwards. Links were made with local primary schools in the hope that Year 12 students could deliver History lessons linked to the Key Stage 2 curriculum, though the primary schools were not able to facilitate this. However, primary pupils visited the school for History taster sessions. Primary schools were also liaised with regarding their CPD needs, and Westcliff staff delivered training in History networking sessions. Links were also forged with universities to allow A Level students to attend lectures.
Evidence: Student feedback.
Impact: The department remains one of the strongest in the school, with extremely high GCSE and A Level uptake. Over half of students studying A2 History go on to study History-related degrees, and apart from the core subjects, History has the largest number of students choosing to continue beyond compulsory study.
Reflections: We have learned that students are willing to embrace new learning experiences when they are offered. The challenges have been the time pressure on both staff and students, which has limited the impact in places.
Contact: Linda Jenkins, firstname.lastname@example.org