What makes the History curriculum so special?

The history curriculum at Castle Mead Academy sets out to promote both ‘Discipline and Discovery’, as advocated by Ben Walsh. It exists, within the wider Castle Mead curriculum, to; enlighten our young people to the stories of the past, develop a love of learning these stories and establish, through a unifying, local lens, a shared appreciation of our island’s journey as well as promoting the history of the wider world. Additionally, and most importantly, it equips scholars with powerful knowledge of our past, telling both the well-told and underrepresented stories of our history. History at CMA strives to allow all our scholars to engage in the discourse and practices of educated people, so that they can gain the powers of the powerful.

How is the History curriculum enacted in a way that honours its beauty, richness and distinctiveness?

The ‘Story, Sources, Scholarship’ model enables students develop their understanding of the discipline of being an historian through engaging with a clear narrative overview of events, relevant primary sources, and the views of eminent historians.  It is, therefore, a curriculum with ‘scholarship at its heart’.

This model combines ideas shared by @SPBeale and @mrfitzhist and is underpinned by research (see Teaching History – TH)

  • In TH99 Riley suggests that a single enquiry question driving pupil’s work with a collection of sources models the unfolding process of evidential reasoning.
  • ‘What’s the wisdom on evidence and Sources?’ in TH176 explains the importance of giving students opportunities to examine carefully curated collections of sources, ensuring that they have a clear contextual narrative within which to place them.
  • Further research can be found in; ‘What’s the wisdom on interpretations of the past?’ (TH177) Reisman; ‘Teaching students to think like historians’.
  • Foster (TH142) ‘Passive receivers or constructive readers?’

Furthermore the ‘Story / Source / Scholarship’ approach incorporates ‘Guided Reading’ as part of the ‘Story’ element.  Guided Reading is an approach to

reading that scaffolds pupils’ thinking in how they analyse a body of text. It also helps with note taking from a piece of text.

Research to support this approach can be found in; 

  •   Chang & Ku (2014) have shown that note taking from reading improves student learning. It also shows that note taking requires effort and encoding         which stores the information more firmly in long term memory.
  •   Boyle (2013) shows that getting trained in specific note taking strategies can significantly improve the quality of notes and the amount of material remembered later.
  •   Reynolds (2016) shows that adding a skeleton framework for notes greatly increases engagement with note taking and the quality of notes overall.
  •   Further Reading
  •  Jenner, Making Reading Routine, TH174
  •   Cornell University, The Cornell Note Taking System
  •   Jennifer Gonzalez, Note taking: A Research Roundup

How does the History curriculum equip scholars with knowledge that provides them with new ways of thinking about the world and has the capacity to take them beyond their own original experiences?

  •   By building a secure schema of disciplinary knowledge (first order, substantive, concepts) including parliament, monarchy and democracy which thread through the curriculum so that they become what Christine Counsell refers to as ‘residual knowledge’, a permanent reservoir which will provide a context for studies across time (and across academic years).
  •   By providing a curriculum that develops young historians, by interleaving not only subject knowledge but also second order concepts, so that identifying causation, change and continuity, and engaging with the process of historical enquiry and historian’s interpretations become established, learned processes, which become more challenging throughout the five years of the curriculum.
  •   By modelling the process of scholarly historical enquiry so that both source enquiry and evaluation of historian’s interpretations shall be embedded throughout.
  •   By presenting content not as one master narrative but rather the exploration of constructed pasts, both British and International, for that is history.
  •   By weaving a golden thread of “local history”, including site visits that develop cultural capital, that builds cohesion across the Castle Mead population and unifies us around our shared heritage of Leicester City.
  •   By avoiding relying on History’s ‘Usual Suspects’ and presenting, where possible, a diverse range of voices from history and challenges ‘populist narratives’.
  •   History topics are taught via a series of short, focussed enquiry questions, designed to retain focus and our students’ attention over 5 or 6 weeks.  They are conceptually based around the ‘Big Questions’ academic historians engage in eg; “How should King John be remembered?” rather than “what were the causes of the Magna Carta?”

As a result of this scholars at CMA will have have;

  • secure, ‘powerful’ substantive knowledge, in order to be able to engage with further study and the wider world
  • engage with interpretations from academic historians that will allow them to grapple with these constructed pasts
  • developed as young historians
  • be ready, willing and able to pit historians against each other!
  • be able to question the world around them and engage in the discourse and practices of educated people . . . having gained the powers of the powerful!

How does the History curriculum reflect intelligent interdisciplinarity, to allow scholars to explore meaningful connections?

  • Year 8 enquiry with Elizabethan England connects with English
  • Development of algebra within Islamic World and Africa links with Maths.
  • WWI links with English War Poetry

Subject Leader/s

Mr A Bartlett
[email protected]