Below are 4 key features of the leadership of outstanding history departments. At a time when we all struggle to do things right, it is worth asking first if we are doing the right things. These 4 would be my priorities, irrespective of the school I teach in.
Unswerving determination to ensure that there is high quality learning in all classrooms, irrespective of who the teacher is, at all times.
This can be best achieved by excellent collaboration among team inc. non-specialist and TAs through innovative joint planning and highly effective sharing of good practice in , both formally and informally. Lots of talk about teaching history
Loads of continuous history-specific professional development for all staff , including TAs ( See Teaching History June 2016) learning from each other in the department, in local networks, national conferences and wider reading. Commitment to ensuring that all staff know what best practice looks like, nationally, and strong drive to achieving it is shared by all.
As with the All Blacks rugby team, where players compare themselves with the best in the world.
Ambitious aims for what high quality history should look like, taking great trouble to conceive the best curriculum possible (with a clear rationale that is well articulated to staff, pupils and parents) and to resource lessons with exciting and motivating resources.
I am convinced that a well-thought through and intelligent curriculum is a pre-requisite of outstanding history in schools. However skilful the teacher, if the curriculum is not well-conceived and progressive across the key stages then pupils’ progress will be constrained.
Emphasis on building quality into schemes of work that genuinely improve colleagues’ practice without stifling initiative.
This is often done by making a feature of asking the team to say one way in which they improve the Schemes of Work for each unit immediately after it has been taught. Teamed with robust quality assurance leading to prompt, decisive action to tackle relative weaknesses in teaching and learning in history, we can ensure that the teaching responds to the learning. More time is spent on those areas where pupils harbour misconceptions