Aim: To encourage students’ independent learning skills, in particular how to formulate an historical argument.
Background: With an increasing cohort of students in Years 10-11, attainment needed to be significantly improved. The department believed this could be achieved by allowing students to take greater ownership of their learning and helping them become more independent and resilient learners.
Year 1: While students struggled to form constructive arguments in History this was not the case in English. Exploration with the Leader of Learning for English revealed that students were given time in lessons to formulate written responses to questions, as well as a specific formula to follow. Some of these techniques were borrowed and adapted to suit the skills required for History. KS3 schemes of work shifted in focus towards enquiry questions that required higher-order thinking skills like analysis and evaluation, and while this was initially challenging for students, there was rapid improvement throughout the year.
Year 2 : Collaborative planning sessions were used to investigate new course material and assessments. Increased book audits have led to improvements in the quality and frequency of marking. Increased focus was given to students to reflect further on their work and their learning. Staff training was delivered around the new GCSE specification, and significant changes made to the KS3 curriculum to reflect the changes.
Year 3: The whole History team worked to deliver new Foundation Assessments and leaders worked to monitor and quality assure the teaching, learning and assessment within the Foundation curriculum. Targeted intervention was provided for Foundation pupils where needed. Examination techniques from the new History GCSE were disseminated down into Foundation lessons to enable all students to develop mastery of these skills and have success at GCSE. Book looks proved marking in History to be regular and effective, with praise and target setting clearly taking place.
Evidence: Exam results and attainment as measured within the department, student questionnaires.
Impact: The key outcome was a significant improvement in attainment. Students had greater ownership of their learning and became both more resilient and more engaged with the subject. They also developed a deeper sense of responsibility and understanding of the past.
Reflections: The greatest challenges were developing a new mindset amongst both staff and students – stepping away from spoon feeding them and encouraging them to research areas on their own, and teaching them that it is ok to be ‘wrong’ and have alternative opinions. Staff were also sometimes taken beyond their comfort zones.
Contact: Paul Hinds, Head of History, firstname.lastname@example.org