History teachers’ sources of support – part 1 – history SLEs

Some colleagues are fortunate to work in schools where there is strong senior management support for the teaching of history, in departments where there is a long history of high-quality leadership and teaching, and are able to feel confident about curriclum planning for the new Ofsted, teaching and learning to meet the needs of every child and the constant demands of subject knowledge updating. Many colleagues are not so fortunate. Thankfully, History as a school subject is probably the most networked, supportive and active of all the subject communities. Put simply, the History Teaching Community Rocks! 

You will be unsurprised to know that the HA Secondary Committee think that the number 1 source of support for history teachers is the Historical Association. However, with over 6000 members, over 100 years in existence and a very active HQ and branch network, it really does have a good claim. From the wisdom, guidance and good ideas of Teaching History to the conferences and local meetings, and from the chance to hear podcasts and webinars from historians to the representation to power on our behalf, it really is a modest membership fee well spent each year. It remains the tried and tested, unashamedly ‘expert’, when it comes to curriculum planning, high-quality resources, deep thinking about teaching and learning and quality debate about all things relating to the past. 

However, convinced as we are that the HA is number 1, Secondary Committee members all belong to many other networks and this is the start of a series of posts to bring some of those to your attention. Some of them you may know about and some of them you may not. You may also know of great support for history specialists that we do not. If so, please contribute a post for this blog series. 

This time we feature the role of an SLEs, with thanks to Adam Shanks
SLE for North Avon Teaching School Alliance (NATSA) 

“SLEs (Specialist Leaders of Education) offer support to individuals and teams in similar roles in other schools. We are working teachers, heads of department or senior leaders so have experience of recent pedagogy, research and practice. Within a Teaching School there is often a range of expertise and knowledge to call upon and we can be flexible about how we can meet the needs of different schools. SLE support is brokered via the Teaching School or College – find yours here!

Support can be offered in 3 main ways; but I think the main thing to say is that we are here to help you, your team and your students and free to give a different perspective allowing departments to maximise the opportunity.

Firstly, we offer school to school support. This could take place over a number of days or half days, often spread out over a term or more. Support can take the form of training, coaching or mentoring, use of relevant research and development or through joint observation, learning walks and collaboration outside the classroom – for example curriculum design and implementation, assessment for learning and can involve working with individuals or the wider department. The aim is ultimately to improve levels of students’ progress and attainment.

Secondly, through Subject Review. This often takes place over a day or most usually a half day and can be very fast paced, evidence based and with a lot of ground to cover – for example supporting SEND, PP, high attainement in History, quality of assessment or even support designed to develop students’ ability to analyse and evaluate historical interpretations at KS3. The review then culminates in a written report that recognises areas of strength and makes constructive recommendations. The very best are often requested by departments themselves, often keen to develop action plans moving forward.

Thirdly, through dedicated CPD. Again, this is often brokered via a range of Teaching Schools and can include courses for NQT/Emerging Teachers or RAISE networks for History, alongside those for other subjects.

In short – SLE support is not a case of ‘showing off’ nor is it about ‘support plans’. It is a process of support with genuine meaning, of honesty, facts based and has an agreed purpose to it – no surprises. SLEs listen, watch and question, always mindful of the evidence. SLEs identify quick wins as well as strategic objectives, and above all the support is bespoke to your circumstances. A win win in my book!”

If you would like to contribute a blogpost, please get in touch via enquiries@history.org.uk  Meanwhile, follow the HA @histassoc and on Facebook.

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