Outstanding history lessons

When talking to a highly talented history teacher recently he said, “I really wish I had had a site like this when I started teaching”.

It hasn’t done him any harm, I must say, but his view is symptomatic of a wider issue. There is plenty of theoretical advice out there, but very few people are willing to say ‘this is really good, why not try it and develop it”. We exchange materials, activities and ideas, but seldom whole lessons. This is what makes the site really useful: strength in depth.

What you’ll find in this section are high quality lessons. These are not just ideas submitted by helpful and effective teachers: they are actual lessons all of which have been quality assured by an experienced history inspector/adviser, (that’s me), or have been judged to be outstanding by OFSTED. I have observed thousands of lessons at Key Stage 3 and 4 and hundreds at Key Stages 1 and 2. This should reassure you that the quality of the lessons will be really high, though this should immediately be obvious! They may have been written in the first person, by the teacher who actually taught the lesson, or more likely, in the third person by the teacher with whom I planned or whose lesson I observed. Sometimes they are the best first part of one lesson added to the best second half of another.

Because the site has uniquely strong links with top-quality practitioners, many of whom are Advanced Skills Teachers or Leading Primary Teachers, the quality of the ideas that appear is exceptionally high. The frequent up-dating of the site ensures that you are kept in touch with the best ideas. Do remember though NOT ALL LESSONS WILL BE LIKE THIS! If you teach some outstanding lessons in a week, and mostly good lessons you can still be an outstanding teacher!

At Key Stage1 you will see that many of the lessons have an explicitly cross-curricular feel to them. They also reflect considerable work that has gone into thinking and enquiry skills. Hardly a worksheet in sight!

At Key Stage 2 you will notice that many of the lessons revolve round strong pupil involvement, often linked to creativity or thinking skills. The lessons are active, the approaches varied and the outcomes imaginative.

One of the strongest features of the Key Stage 3 examples is the emphasis on enquiry. You will see exemplified in these lessons not just the features of the Foundation Strand Strategy but also imaginative approaches to helping pupils grasp complex concepts. You will find a clear focus on pupils making their own meaning and arriving at conclusions having worked with the evidence.

At Key Stage 4 the emphasis is firmly placed on showing imaginative ways of helping students with different preferred learning styles to meet challenging objectives. You will see familiar topics taught in familiar ways but with that extra edge of activity that is so often lacking at Key Stage 4. Students are encouraged to apply new knowledge to form their own understanding, not merely to reproduce it for examination purposes.

Latest outstanding lessons

Hitler Youth AS/A2 task

This smart task uses one of the most frequently misunderstood Hitler Youth posters. By taking students through a step-by-step deconstruction of the poster using an animated PowerPoint presentation, students are shown the overwhelming importance of...
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