Trinity History Teach Meet for Teachers in the Leeds, Bradford, Harrogate and nearby areas

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Jul 112017

This initiative has been set up by Alex Ford and you can find full details plus a sign-up form at his website:

In brief, the inaugural Teach Meet is scheduled for Friday 10th November, meeting at 4pm for a 4.30 start. It will have a theme of sharing teaching and ideas and resources for GCSE History. Everyone is welcome to come along for a drink and some great discussion about teaching history. Please share the event with as many local history teachers as you like.


Venue: The Emmott Arms, Rawdon which has a big car park and good bus links. Horsforth and Apperley Bridge train stations are close by too.

Format: Bring along a non-digital idea, resource, or great local history story connected to your GCSE teaching. You will need to be able to explain it / show it off in 3-4 minutes. You will then do “speed dating” with other teachers to share your brilliant ideas, stories and resources. We are wrapping up by 5:30pm, but you are welcome to stop on for a drink and a chat.

This is a great initiative so do visit Alex’s site for more details HERE …



 Posted by at 9:17 am

Conference and Resources News, Summer 2017

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May 302017

1. SHP Conference, Leeds Trinity University, 7 to 9 July

One of the strongest programmes in the 29 years of the SHP Conference which runs from 2pm on Friday to Sunday lunchtime, leaving delegates enthused, elated and exhausted!

Full details of the programme plus booking details HERE …

2. HA summer CPD

Rethinking the Normans for GCSE,  

Tower of London, Saturday 17 June. Details HERE …

Teaching English Medieval History and Historical Interpretations for the new GCSE

Four sessions at 5.30 – 7.30, beginning 11 July, Westminster City School, London. Details HERE …

A thousand years of the forging and re-forging of Britain: Insights into teaching thematic history for the new GCSE

Four sessions at 5.30 – 7.30, beginning 17 June, Elizabeth Garrett Anderson School, London  HERE …

Teacher Fellowship course for 2018: Teaching the Age of Revolutions

This Fellowship has three strands, one for primary teachers, one for secondary teachers, one predominantly for A level teachers. Details HERE …

3. Battlefields Trust Education Resource packs

Resources for teachers on the battles of Shrewsbury (1403) and Stoke (1487) HERE …

4. Battle of Falkirk

The battle of Falkirk is one of the case-study conflicts identified by Edexcel for its GCSE unit on Warfare through time. Anyone teaching this unit may find this article by historian David Santiuste useful HERE …


 Posted by at 5:16 pm

Ian Coulson Annual Bursary for Local History / Archaeology in Kent Schools

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Apr 232017

This annual bursary has been established by the Kent Archaeological Society in memory of Ian Coulson.

Ian was Adviser for History in Kent schools for over 25 years and, at the time of his premature death in 2015, President of the Kent Archaeological Society. Teachers in Kent schools are invited to apply for the bursary to develop classroom resources based on Kent’s local history and/or archaeology, two of Ian’s great passions. It is open to teachers in both primary and secondary schools. One bursary, worth up to £1,000, will be available each academic year for which any Kent school can apply.

For details see

To gain a little understanding of why Ian was so widely respected and admired by teachers in Kent and amidst the SHP community see him in action on YouTube HERE … and see his ‘Handy’ Guide to Medieval Architecture on this website,  HERE …



 Posted by at 1:41 pm

New resources available: Migration in the 15th and 16th centuries

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Aug 212016

The National Archive in conjunction with the England’s Immigrants 1330-1550 project has been running a Teacher Scholar programme which has produced a number of resources which you can find here …

In summary the resources cover:

• Were there really aliens living among the population of England in the 15th century?  (Year 5-6)

• How can government records help us investigate the diversity of the population? (KS3 – Years 8/9)

• How can we get people from the 15th century to tell us about their lives? (KS 4 and 5- Years 10-13)

• Did trade and migration change England in the 16th century? (Years 12-13)

The England’s Immigrants 1330-1550 project and database can be found at


 Posted by at 11:39 am

Teaching about the Norman Conquest

 A Level, GCSE, Info, KS3, Normans  Comments Off on Teaching about the Norman Conquest
Jul 172016

Many people are about to teach the Norman Conquest at GCSE for the first time – these items may be useful to you.

Item 1. Two videos of 20 minute lectures by Carl Watkins of the University of Cambridge discuss key aspects of the Conquest – the words are both valuable and interesting even if the video quality suggests they were filmed by a KGB spy in the 1950s using a camera hidden in a briefcase. As they are on the Cambridge History Faculty website I assume nothing underhand was going on!

Lecture 1 HERE …

Lecture 2 HERE …

Item 2. The Royal Armouries is holding a two day conference on the Conquest on the weekend of 14-15 October at the Tower of London. The programme consists of a battery of 40 minute talks by a host of eminent academics but the intended audience for the conference seems to be teachers and the interested public rather than academics.

Full details HERE …

Item 3. There’s a host of books around about the Conquest and William the Conqueror but I’ve recently much enjoyed two books in the Penguin Monarchs series which has a 100pp book for each reign from Athelstan to Elizabeth II. The two for this period which are currently out are:

William II: The Red King by John Gillingham – Gillingham is always been one of the most readable historians so this is the ideal introduction to William ‘Rufus’.

See Amazon HERE …

Stephen: The Reign of Anarchy by Carl Watkins – you probably aren’t teaching about Stephen but it’s an engrossing book nevertheless, exploring whether this really was a period of ‘anarchy’ and the various contingent circumstances that led to both Stephen’s succession and the ensuing civil war.

See Amazon HERE …

(I’ve provided Amazon links so you can see the contents list but they’re cheaper on Book Depository and elsewhere!)

The  book on William I by Marc Morris is due out in August (on my birthday if anyone in my family is reading this).

Item 4. The Historical Association has a range of material on aspects of the Conquest, some of which are free to non-members

See HERE … and HERE …

Item 5. A series of short films by historian, Marc Morris:

See it on YouTube HERE …

Item 6. In Our Time Radio 4 programmes on

The Battle of Stamford Bridge HERE …

Domesday Book HERE …

The Norman Yoke HERE …

Hope this is useful


 Posted by at 2:43 pm

Resources for teaching about the late middle ages – KS3, GCSE Warfare, A level

 A Level, GCSE, Info, KS3  Comments Off on Resources for teaching about the late middle ages – KS3, GCSE Warfare, A level
Feb 222016

A range of resources …

Agincourt: Myth and Reality

University of Southampton’s MOOC on the battle of Agincourt – a 3 week, free course covering the broader context of the Hundred Years War, Agincourt and its legacy and interpretations and the nature of warfare at the time. Even if you only have time to glance at it at the moment there’s an excellent range of short videos and other materials to download e.g. on late medieval armour, longbows, walking the site of Agincourt. You don’t have to be signed up in advance – you can join in part way and you don’t actually have to do anything if you don’t want to. It’s a really valuable free resource – it was run in the autumn (hence knowing what’s in it) and repeated from 22 February

The Agincourt 600 site is also worthexploring

England in the time of Richard III

Another free mooc from Futurelearn – this one starts on 7 March for 6 weeks as comes from the University of Leicester. I don’t know what’s in it but I hope it’s more than another re-tread of the car park! It does say that it is going to look more at the nature of fifteenth century society and lists medieval warfare, the lives of peasants and farmers, food and culture, death and commemoration, reading and the introduction of printing. Hopefully this mooc will also provide some useful teaching resources.

Weapons and Armour

I noticed on Youtube a set of films featuring Tobias Capwell, one of the leading authorities on late medieval armour and linked to the armour and weapons you can see at the Wallace Collection in London. Extracts from these could well be useful for GCSE warfare or A level students studying the 15thC.


 Posted by at 10:00 am
Dec 102015

Amidst the laughter and good fellowship there was always a thoughtful, committed teacher and historian who believed deeply in the importance of good history teaching.

‘Hello, Ian up there, it’s Ian down here.’

That reference to up (me in Yorkshire) and down (him in Kent) was our standard greeting, exchanged many times over the last thirty years.  Ian’s voice, ever enthusiastic, always seeming on the brink of laughter, told you much about the man.

I first met Ian about 30 years ago when I ran a CPD session in Kent for SHP. Other visits followed as Ian moved from being head of department to advisory teacher to being Kent’s History adviser. Sometime in the late 80s we struck up a rapport because I invited Ian to write a book on The Roman Empire for a KS3 series I edited for the first National Curriculum in 1991 – it still stands up as a good book (one of the first to feature enquiry questions). More importantly it gave Ian regular opportunities to point out to me that if he’d accepted the invitation from Heinemann to write for them instead of for me, he and Liz would have been able to retire 20 years earlier. The Heinemann book – not a patch on ours – came out first, was sold at a daft price and sold in shedloads. But, we agreed, we had created a much better book and never mind the sales.

Ian then wrote more material for John Murray and was one of the early contributors and originators of The National Archive’s Learning Curve website. For those of us involved with SHP however it will always be Ian’s role as an SHP Fellow that we’ll remember first. He was a regular contributor to the annual conferences from the beginning in 1989, providing workshops every year and once a Saturday evening session when he loaded up his car with every conceivable example of archaeological evidence he could lay his hands on and simply enthused to us all for well over an hour about archaeology which had been his first degree. And then there was the Guinness in the bar afterwards! The success of the SHP Conference has not just been in the quality of its workshops and plenaries but in the atmosphere, the sense of community, and Ian’s role in creating that sense of community was and long continued to be central to the conference’s success.

Ian presents Chris with an original Coulson cartoon

When Chris Culpin took over as SHP Director in 1996 and set up the advisory ‘Fellows’ group Ian was a natural choice. From then on, for a dozen years, eight of us met up on a Friday evening in the less than glamorous surroundings of the Yeadon Stoops Travel Inn ‘restaurant’ and caught up with each other’s news. The business meeting followed the next day but we’d created the atmosphere on Friday evenings – some of the happiest hours I’ve spent and the beginning of lasting ties for us all.

Ian’s part in the creation of that happiness was central. He gave us warmth, humour, spontaneity, good fellowship – he had an immensely generous spirit, always eager to push others forward, to sing the praises of others. He himself was a great communicator, conveying his enthusiasm and knowledge with ease, variety, humour, clarity, but for someone who may have appeared to outsiders to be full ‘only’ of boisterous bonhomie he had a deep vein of humility – nothing gave him more pleasure than seeing those he respected being successful.

Teachers who use this website, Thinkinghistory, are in Ian’s debt as it was a conversation with him that led to me setting up this site. Back in 2002 I was being badgered by the College of HE where I worked to apply for a Higher Education teaching award. At first I didn’t see the point as I didn’t envisage staying in HE much longer but a conversation with Ian changed my mind. He turned my thoughts to using the funding that came with the award to support trainee-teachers rather than focussing on something to do with teaching on the history degree course. And so the idea of building the application around ‘active learning’ and creating a website was born – and Thinkinghistory then gave me a new lease of professional life, I think by far the most valuable part of the work that I’ve done.

And while I built on Thinkinghistory Ian got on with his ‘bits and pieces’. Much on at the moment? ‘Oh, you know, the usual bits and pieces.’ The bits and pieces in any given week usually involved something like two or three visits to history departments, ‘the troops’, in Kent, running an inset day for primary teachers, too many hours bashing his head against the brick wall of council stupidity that was Kent’s specialism, an evening talk to a local history society on the archaeology of the area, chasing uo a chapter for the History of Kent from a recalcitrant academic, a hard pounding game of basketball at a seriously good standard well into his late 50s and, of course, time for Liz, Jack and Clare. Amidst all this Ian found the time to be a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries, played a key part in the development of the multi-volume History of Kent published by the academic publishers, Boydell and Brewer, and was in recent years, President of the Kent Archaeological Society, one of the foremost county archaeological societies in the country. He also built up a vast store of resources for use by Kent history teachers from archaeological artefacts to historical journals. He believed that teachers should stay in touch with the latest publications and students should be shown and handle the evidence on which history is based.

Much of that activity was punctuated by Ian taking out his sketch pad or pack of postcards and working up a quick cartoon with snappy caption. Many’s the SHP meeting recorded more effectively by Ian’s running cartoon commentary than by my minutes – it was a happy gift that gave him and us great pleasure. I have no more treasured memento of my years in history teaching than the ‘biography’ Ian drew and captioned to mark my leaving SHP a few years ago.

Two minds with one thought: get on with the photograph, we’ve got archaeology to discuss! (Note the tea pot)

Amongst my trips to see Ian and Liz one visit stands out. About twelve years ago I spent a couple of days with them during the period when my wife, Pat, was having chemotherapy – one of the good weeks obviously when Pat packed me off to recharge my batteries. Ian took a couple of days off and we tramped the battlefield at Hastings, selected a spot from which to assault Bodiam castle, decided where we’d have deployed King John’s fat pigs at Rochester castle and went out of our way to find the tomb of Richard III’s supposed illegitimate son. At one point we pulled up in a small town so Ian could give me a brief lecture on the varieties of Kentish roof tiles – boy, did he know his stuff. And then, when I slumped off to bed, Ian headed for his study to do all the work he’d put aside to give me the break I needed.

I have no idea how to finish this. I think I just want to finish with two things. Firstly that the courage and sense of partnership shown by Ian and Liz since Ian was diagnosed with a brain tumour in June has been truly remarkable. And secondly that Ian’s great depths of generosity, energy, passion and joy in sharing his enthusiasms will always stay with me. His company has been a rare and happy pleasure.

From Ian up here to Ian down there,

Thank you

I feel there’s many other experiences shared and details I could have added. I do hope others will take the opportunities to add your appreciation of Ian by using the Comment column.

 Posted by at 1:03 pm

The animated Bayeux Tapestry – a wondrous delight

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Jul 142015

4 minutes 25 seconds of delight – an animated version of about half of the Bayeux Tapestry – ships sail, horses gallop (I won’t spoil some of the other features), plus sound effects and portentous music and English captions to help the story along. I haven’t begun to think about how to use it with KS3 or GCSE or A level – in the first place just enjoy it.

See the_bayeux_tapestry_animatio



 Posted by at 9:08 am

New A level book: The Vietnam War in Context by Dale Scarboro

 A Level, Books, Info  Comments Off on New A level book: The Vietnam War in Context by Dale Scarboro
Jun 302015

This is very definitely an A level book with a difference.

It’s the latest publication in SHPs Enquiring History series and so isn’t linked to an individual awarding body specification but that’s not what makes it different. It’s the author’s connection with the topic and his ability to personalise it without losing objectivity that’s so special.

Dale Scarboro was born and brought up in the USA, leaving for Britain in his mid-teens in 1970 when his father came over here to teach. The resulting sense of the draft and of the war being an ‘experience-in-waiting’ permeates the book, augmented by the knowledge that some of Dale’s relatives and friends did fight in Vietnam. These experiences, together with Dale’s deep knowledge of the historiography, the culture, the films and music, make this a book worth reading even if you do not teach this topic. As the series editor it was obvious very early that this was to be a different book – in chapter 1 there’s a quotation from a soldier that seemed to have more asterisks in it than words. That never happens with Tudor extracts! As editor my job was simply to guide Dale’s choice of material – the last thing I wanted to do was restrict the book’s personality by insisting on adherence to ‘series style’.

Another feature of the book is that it eschews the standard structure i.e. context, then why did it start, what happened, what were the consequences. Instead Dale follows the route Americans took in ‘discovering’ the war, beginning with the defeat of US forces because that was what made many Americans so aware of the war in the first place. Then he unpicks the war’s impact on the USA, why the USA became involved and why it took so long to withdraw. Section 2 explores the context of 1945-1951 and the Korean War.

So it’s a different book but far from worse for that – it may not be your core text but it’s a book that may make that critical difference in enthusing individuals or providing a different perspective that sparks interest. This book will certainly enthuse students who other books fail to reach.

For full details see the Hodder Website

It’s one of those rare ‘textbooks’ that’s worth reading even if you don’t ‘use it.


 Posted by at 1:51 pm