Getting excited about the HA online conference this month!

Sally Burnham of Carres School in Lincolnshire and the University of Nottingham PGCE team is getting excited about the forthcoming HA online conference. Here is share’s her planned conference journey. What is yours? #OBHD

Term 1 is finished and I am just catching my breath from one of the more challenging terms of my teaching career. Having helped Year 7 settle in, supported Year 10 to make the transition to GCSE, encouraged Year 12 in their early steps of A level and learned how to teach in a classroom whilst simultaneously teaching 4-5 students on Teams, I am ready to return my focus to developing my history teaching.

What better way than to contemplate the HA virtual conference? One of the silver linings of Covid 19 is that I don’t have to pore over the programme trying to decide which sessions I can attend  – I can listen to as many sessions as I can fit in over the coming month. However, I have thought long and hard over which need to be my priority in order to move me and my department forward.

Like many History departments across the country we are looking carefully at how diverse our curriculum is and what we can do to develop this, especially at KS3. Despite some initial work, it is clear that our curriculum still represents our homogenous student body. To help me develop my thinking and to inspire me with their ideas I am keen to listen to Hannah Cusworth’s session on Empire, Curriculum and Belonging, Claire Holliss’ LGBT+ history: why include it and how to do it well and Philip Arkinstall’s Engaging with medieval women at Key Stage 3. These along with Paula and Polly’s session on using diversity to ensure a curriculum that broadens students’ horizons will provide me with ways of developing a more diverse curriculum as well as inspire me with ideas that I can then develop over the coming year to feed into our school development plan. After the sessions I will be able to feed back to my department and we will share out reading, both pedagogical and historical, so that we can then plan as a department to ensure that diversity is integrated into our teaching rather than just bolted on.  I am looking forward to attending the workshop session for Paula and Polly as this will enable me to hear what other schools are thinking of doing/already doing to provide further inspiration. Just the thought of extending the scope of our curriculum further fills me with excitement. There are also a few of general sessions that will feed into this to help me develop my subject knowledge; Angelina Osborne, Emily Selove Kate Donington and Toby Green – another benefit of the online conference!

The other key focus for my department at the moment is developing our A level historians. Whilst their work is good and the majority of my Year 13 class thrived during lockdown with weekly reading and seminar sessions on Teams, we are aware of some areas that need developing, particularly the way that they engage with historical interpretations. Tackling this will help students both in their final exam but also with their NEA, so Holly Hiscox’s session looking at ways of introducing students to historians and looking at how they reach their interpretations should provide me with plenty of food for thought for helping students develop a more sophisticated analyses of historical interpretations. I am also hoping that I may pick up a few ideas that I can build into my GCSE teaching as many students still struggle with the ‘how and why interpretations differ’ question. Jim Caroll’s session on modelling academic causal reasoning will also be invaluable; over the last couple of years we have managed to develop a culture of reading amongst out 6th formers and this has contributed to a more sophisticated level of writing but I know that Jim’s session will leave me with something to really get my teeth into over the coming months.

As well as these sessions that I have identified as priority for helping my department over the coming year, I don’t think there is one session that I don’t want to attend! Anyone wanting to find me over the coming month (when I am not teaching) will only have to look as far as the cupboard where I will be sat with my headphones and a notepad. After the term we have just had, I can’t wait to start this next term with history specific CPPD that I know will inspire me as an individual teacher and support our department development.

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