How undertaking a Teacher Fellowship could change your life – in teaching, at least!

Thanks to Louisa Dunn, Head of History, Westcliff High School for Girls, for writing this blogpost. She’s at @LouisaKDee (and says… “not that I am very active, but I am happy for people to contact me with questions etc.”)

A new Historical Association Teacher Fellowship has just been announced on the Korean War and applications are open now .  I was lucky enough to be part of the first fellowship in January 2016 on Teaching the Later Middle Ages and I thought I would share just a few of the benefits that doing this has had on my professional development, as well as my department and our students.

What was involved?

The workload is manageable, I promise! Don’t be daunted by it.

It is no exaggeration to say that undertaking the fellowship on teaching the later Middle Ages utterly transformed my knowledge of the 15th century. My motivation for applying in the first place was that we wanted to choose a 15th century topic for our new A-Level course, so that we were offering a broader curriculum for our students. However, as a department felt out subject knowledge was lacking. The residential provided a number of lectures by academics, giving participants direct access to up-to-date historical debate on the 15th century  and the people creating it. There was then an 8 week online course identifying key sources and areas of investigation. It was invaluable.

The impact has been huge. In the short term I was able to write a complete A-Level scheme of work covering the period 1399-1509 for use by my department, drawing on a lot of the knowledge I gained from the residential and the online course. I also provided CPD for other members of my department on the 15th century. We spent time together talking about key people, course content and practising the role plays we use with our students. I wrote one of these and it was then featured by the fellowship leader, Ian Dawson, on is superb resource site for teachers: role play. For other resources please see these resources on the Thinking History website . I produced resources that are used annually in our teaching of this topic in my school and are available for use by others on the HA website .  This picture shows one of the products of these resources…


I also felt confident enough in my knowledge to become an examiner for this A-Level unit.

I was also able to direct my students to further study, partly passing on work we had done online. Some of them undertook the University of Southampton MOOC about the Battle of Agincourt and one by the University of Leicester on England in the time of Richard III .  Every year a few of them catch the ‘15th century bug’ and love the vast reading lists with which I am able to provide them.

In the longer term it has very recently changed the way we do the NEA/Coursework part of our A-Level. We have just redesigned our scheme of work and are now offering a range of options linked to the 15th century (as well as our other examined units) for students to choose from, in order to develop their knowledge and understanding. Without the beneficial impact of the HATF on my subject knowledge, I don’t think I would have had the confidence with the areas of historical debate to be able to guide my students appropriately on these topics. So far I have students investigating different interpretations of The Black Prince, the impact of The Hundred Years War, the character and kingships of Henry VI, Edward IV, Richard III and Henry VII and the role of women in the 15th century.

Finally, as you have probably gathered, it has sparked a passion for the history of the 15th century in me. My library is growing and I am hooked. You could be too, so get your applications in for Korea and, if unsuccessful first time, keep applying!

The HA provides CPD in the form of Teaching History Fellowships every year. Keep an eye on HA Events for opportunities as they emerge. Of course, there is also a huge range of other CPD for members, from conference to podcasts and webinars to local twilight meetings. @histassoc

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