A History HoD gives us seven steps to stay subject specific…

This week, Ruth Lingard (@YorkClio), Head of History at Millthorpe School, addresses the very real problem of the subject-specific getting squeezed by the generic…

It is the second week in September and this is the department meeting agenda once I have added what SLT expect to it:

  1. GCSE results analysis
  2. Predicted grades for year 10
  3. Conduct scores for Year 9
  4. Year 7 walking tour staffing and permission forms
  5. Assessment criteria at Key Stage 3

It doesn’t bring joy to the soul does it? It’s already long and there is not one mention of actual History teaching in my History Department meeting!

In a world where the subject specific is often squeezed out by the generic, we as Heads of Department need to fight hard to keep History teaching at the centre of our department meetings.

This is how I am going to try and do this:

  1. Shunt all the admin we are required to do into two 10 min morning slots, thus freeing up our department meeting.
  2. Only use the freed department meeting time to enrich subject knowledge and teaching pedagogy.
  3. Be-friend the history academics of our local higher education institution to see if we can get advice, persuade them to come and up-date us on the newest thinking and steal their under-graduate reading lists.
  4. Start a History book club amongst the department. Get one member of staff to lead and give a synopsis of the arguments once a year. This should mean I get one book review a term.
  5. Get teachers with ‘expert’ knowledge to run a 20 min knowledge update.
  6. Take key articles from Teaching History to discuss in department time e.g. Jim Carroll’s article on getting student to write better causal arguments. Compare this with our own students writing – what can we learn?
  7. Unashamedly use HA events, such as the Yorkshire History Forum, as department meeting time. (Free wine and sandwiches too!)

Did you know, there’s a whole section on the HA website to support History Departments?  We hope you find it useful. Please do tell the HA how it can be improved and also share your ideas for keeping precious department time subject-specific. We can share your ideas here #OBHD.

The HA is @histassoc and on Facebook.

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