Hints and Tips - 5 minute read
Emily Oakes, OCR History Subject Advisor
We are always working hard to think of ways to continue to support our GCSE History A and B teachers. Working in collaboration with our partners at English Heritage the idea of holding a teacher webinar on Kenilworth Castle was born!
It was intended that the webinar would give teachers a virtual site tour and historical information about the castle along with the opportunity to hear from the English Heritage learning team and from the history advisor team here at OCR.
With the uncertainty of what the immediate future holds, we have been keen to put in place help for both teachers and students who may find themselves working on our GCSE units. Being able to looking at the historic environment without being able to leave the classroom, or working remotely from home.
Focusing on Kenilworth Castle was a natural choice. It is one of the fixed sites for the historic environment part of the British Depth Study paper for History A and it is a very popular choice for those taking History Around Us in History B – Schools History Project.
There were even some teachers who were considering swapping to Kenilworth Castle as their History Around Us site for 2021 so that they could focus on a site that had plenty of online resources and support available in case we were to enter further national or regional lockdowns.
The live event took place on 15 September 2020 and due to high demand within days we were fully booked. A recording of the webinar will be available very soon so that you can use this as resource.
The focal point of the webinar was the site tour and history of the castle led by Jeremy Ashbee - Head Properties Curator who used interesting visuals to support his commentary ranging from contemporary sources to modern drone footage of the site.
Helen Kerry and Kate Armstrong from English Heritage’s learning team then introduced the audience to a wide range of teaching resources available produced by their specialists. Finally, Mike Goddard – Lead Subject Advisor at OCR and I were on hand to answer any questions about assessment of the GCSE Historic Environment units.
Our English Heritage colleague Jeremy Ashbee “…enjoyed it enormously”! Which was clear to anyone listening as he’s incredibly passionate and knowledgeable about the castle.
The feedback we received has been overwhelmingly positive and we look forward to planning future CPD events like this one for our history teachers. Please make sure you are signed up for subject updates.
You will be aware that there are some changes to 2021 assessments. The compulsory unit for History A will be Paper 1 (Period Study: International Relations) and for History B will be Paper 2 (British Depth Study).
In addition, History A teachers will need to choose a further 2 units that could include the British Depth Study with Historic Environment unit. Teachers will need to choose a further 3 units for History B that could include the History Around Us unit.
If you are choosing to take the Historic Environment units, then, as far as we are aware, the question papers in 2021 will follow the same format.
There are many ways that you can ensure your students are as well prepared for the exam as possible. You will find some advice in the webinar recording which will be available shortly on our website where you will also find more detailed support for assessment in both History A and History B.
For GCSE History B you can also contact your SHP regional advisor who is dedicated to helping you through the delivery of the SHP specification with support, resources and ideas if and when you need it. If you aren’t sure who your regional advisor is please contact SHP@leedstrinity.ac.uk and they will be happy to help you.
For some teachers dropping History Around Us may feel like an obvious choice if site visits are not possible. However, English Heritage have been working very hard to open their sites again this autumn for COVID-19 safe educational visits.
They’ve produced a handy ‘what to expect’ guide for teachers with risk assessments and FAQs to help with planning visits. You can contact English Heritage directly to discuss a site visit or anything else about studying their historical locations and the resources available.
It is not a requirement of either History A or B to physically visit a site and we think that even a ‘virtual tour’ can give students a cultural experience enabling them to feel connected to their heritage through the study of physical remains. As the specification for GCSE History B states: “For many learners, the study of an historical site can be the beginning of an interest in the historic environment that will continue into adult life”.
Please let us know how you are getting on with your ‘History Around Us’ and ‘Historic Environment’ teaching this year in the comments section below. You can email us at history@OCR.org.uk or tweet us @OCR_History.
Make sure you sign up for subject updates and ensure you are receiving information about resources and support.
Emily Oakes - Subject Specialist - History
Emily Oakes is a Subject Advisor for History. She has 13 years’ experience teaching & leading in history and as a Head of Sixth Form in the UK along with 2 years teaching at an international school in France. Emily has a BA in Archaeology from UCL and a MA in Medieval History from UEA along with a PGCE from University of Cambridge. When she’s not working, Emily likes spending time outdoors with her family, gardening and reading.