Keeping the love for history alive

Benedict Freeburn, history teacher at St Mary Magdalene CE School, explains the positive impact great CPD can have on teachers’ passion for their subject.

After giving explanations of how William the Conqueror won the Battle of Hastings to a multitude of classes, does your passion for teaching shine as brightly as it did the day you first walked into the classroom?

The best teachers are highly skilled at ensuring true love for their subject endures, regardless of how many years they have been teaching it. But schools have an important part to play in nurturing this.

History beyond the classroom 

School trips are a great way to spark students’ imaginations and immerse them in the subjects they are learning.Benedict Freeburn, history teacher at St Mary Magdalene CE School

Our school is ideally located for this and as a history teacher, I’ve seen the positive impact of taking students on half-termly trips to exciting locations such as the Tower of London and Hampton Court Palace.

Giving students the chance to chat about the famous characters  from history  inside  the rooms they inhabited, or see the actual graffiti created by those imprisoned in the Tower for themselves, really helps to bring history to life.

But spending time outside of the classroom in these places can be hugely beneficial for teachers too, as I discovered recently when my colleagues and I attended a CPD event at the Tower of London.

Always learning

Having visited the Tower with our students at least eight times a year as part of the history curriculum, we were amazed at how much a CPD-focussed event enabled us to learn about the subject we love and the different ways of teaching it.

One highlight of the event, which was run by Historic Royal Palaces, was being able to chat to a current GCSE examiner about the new numerical grading system. As a relatively new school, St Mary Magdalene is about to start teaching GCSEs for the very first time, so it was great to be able to ask questions and get a clearer understanding of what examiners look for in a grade 9 answer, and how this differs from the previous A* grade.

Taking a tour from a teacher’s perspective, rather than that of a student, helped to underline how our trips to the Tower can support teaching at Key Stage 3, as well as our GCSE units. We returned to school invigorated with new lesson ideas and a deeper understanding of the site’s history – it is quite amazing how many questions you have when you’re not monitoring thirty students.

The experience has changed our approach to teaching Key Stage 3 history. The Tower now plays a central role in developing students’ enquiry skills, featuring heavily in our Normans and Tudor schemes of work. The CPD event has also provided a strong introduction to the Elizabethans for Key Stage 4 too. 

Inspiring students

School trips are designed to an experience that motivates students to make good progress back in school.

CPD days away from the classroom are equally important for allowing teachers to delve deeper into their subjects and explore the most effective ways of teaching them.

With over 70% of students at St Mary Magdalene studying history GCSE, we believe that the passion our teachers have for history is shared by our students.

For more information, visit CPD for schools.

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