Aim: To reinvigorate History teaching at A Level by making the lessons more interesting, thus increasing student engagement and attainment and also making History a more popular option.

Background: The introduction of the EBacc meant that there was greater option uptake for GCSE History. As a consequence, Advanced Level History option groups were growing to such an extent that it was no longer being taught as part of a consortium with our partner school, and all four modules were now being taught at Wednesfield High.

Method: The project involved research by the Head of Department on active learning strategies, engagement and reflective questioning. Networks were formed with local schools, professional associations and universities. Schemes of work were revised with more active learning strategies and a focus on exam content and skills. This was particularly successful in teaching the Tudor period at AS Level. Academic tracking was introduced throughout the two year Sixth Form course in order to raise attainment and personalise students’ progress.

Continuing Professional Development was targeted and concentrated on developing teachers’ specialist subject knowledge.

An extracurricular day was introduced in 2011 and from 2013 onwards a masterclass was held in the Easter holidays. In 2012 two visits were arranged, one to Sulgrave Manor and the other a Holocaust Education trip to Poland. These were repeated the following year together with a visit to a Birmingham University Masterclass.

Ambassadors for A Level History disseminated information to KS4 students and marketed History at option events in a positive light.

Evidence: Student feedback, option uptake at AS Level, destinations of Y13 leavers, exam results.

Impact: Option uptake at AS Level increased from 7 students in 2010 to 23 students in 2011.

Retention rates AS–A2 also improved:

  • 2011 - 40%
  • 2012 - 56%
  • 2013 - 60%

Destinations of Year 13 students:

  • 2011 - 80% of students went into employment or higher education
  • 2012 & 2013 - 100% of students went into employment or higher education

Reflections: The challenge was to effectively manage the increased numbers of students opting for History! The importance of History as a facilitating subject for Russell Group universities was a significant factor in student choice.

Contact: Joanne Bissell, Head of History