In history, the curriculum identifies three key processes and six key concepts. The processes are:
- historical enquiry
- using evidence
- communicating about the past.
Key concepts are:
- chronological understanding
- cultural, ethnic and religious diversity
- change and continuity
- cause and consequence
- historical interpretation.
The Key Stage 1 and 2 framework states that “Pupils should be taught to find out about the past from a wide range of sources of information (for example stories, eye-witness accounts, pictures and photographs, artefacts, historical buildings and visits to museums, galleries and sites, the use of Information and Communication Technology sources).”
Many primary schools and some secondary schools have become very attached to the QCA schemes of work in history and use them regularly to define their history units. Popular themes therefore include: homes and toys at Key Stage 1, Victorians, Romans and World War II at Key Stage 2 and Tudors, Abolition of the Slave Trade and World War I and II at Key Stage 3.
More schools are now beginning to devise their own units and themes and some primaries are exploring the history that is on their doorsteps.
At Key Stage 4 the SHP History specification includes a local study and some areas have trialled a “hybrid” history GCSE (OCR) that includes project work focusing on heritage sites.
What can museums do?
- Bring history to life. Whether you offer visits, outreach, loans or e-learning resources a museum has the primary source material that schools don’t usually have.
- Make history engaging. Personal stories and first-hand experiences are valued by students of all ages.
- Include skills-based activities in visits: museums are the best places to develop historical enquiry skills.
- Give access to as many of your evidence sources as is practical. Key Stage 4 students may find archive material interesting and relevant.
- Act as a stimulus for an investigation. Talk to local teachers about the potential to use your collections to spark off an enquiry.
- Explore the potential of any local history collections with local schools. Local history is an area in which national publishers have little to offer and museums have a strength.
- Contact other museums who offer sessions supporting history and ask if you can visit them to see what they do.
- Contact your local schools and ask to speak to the History or Humanities Co-ordinator or Head of Department. Find out what topics they are studying.
- Offer a venue to celebrate school research and enquiry, perhaps by hosting an exhibition of school work.
- Brighton Museums’ Teacher Guide (PDF, 3.7 Mb).
- Chertsey Museum education catalogue 2010 (PDF, 2.1 Mb).
- England’s Past For Everyone is an HLF funded project that has developed on-line local history resources for schools which may be a useful source of ideas.
- The Historical Association offers free access to some resources for non-members including teaching materials about local history. Also a good site to keep up with news of Local and Community History Month (May).
- Teacher TV shows good practice in teaching primary history and secondary history.