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February 09, 2011

History and the National Curriculum

In order to allay concerns about the forthcoming review of the National Curriculum and its relationship to teaching in schools, the Historical Association have issued the following statement:

The National Curriculum Review and History

In January the Secretary of State for Education announced a review of the National Curriculum in England, which includes a review of history. There have been many reports and rumours about the content and format for the revised history curriculum. The Historical Association (HA) would like to take this opportunity to clear up any confusion, explain what will be happening over the coming months, and explain what it is doing at this time.

Clearing up confusion

In the first instance, the HA would like to reassure teachers in both primary and secondary schools that no decision has been made about the content or structure of history in the curriculum. Press reports which suggest otherwise are mistaken. Many individuals and organisations have expressed views on the nature of history in the curriculum as it stands and as they wish it to be. Some of these ideas and submissions to the government have been reported as though they represent the shape of the new History National Curriculum. This is not the case.

What is happening at this time?

The Secretary of State has published a Call for Evidence as ‘Phase 1’ of a public consultation on the curriculum as a whole and on individual subjects. With specific regard to history, the Call asks all interested parties (including teachers) to comment on:

·  Should history continue to be a National Curriculum subject at Key Stages 1-3, and should it be compulsory at Key Stage 4?

·  Should schools be able to determine what is taught – if so, in which Key Stages?

·  Should the National Curriculum specify levels of achievement / attainment targets – or are there more suitable alternative approaches?

·  How should the curriculum and targets be defined to ensure appropriate education for learners of all abilities and needs?

·  How should particular knowledge best be sequenced within the National Curriculum?

·  What are the most important factors to consider in developing a National Curriculum to ensure smooth transition between the key stages?

What about specified content?

The Call for Evidence has not asked for anyone to comment on what exactly should be taught in the history National Curriculum. Work on programmes of study will not begin until ‘Phase 1’ has been concluded, and they will be subject to further, wide consultation. This consultation is due to start in Spring 2012 until Spring 2013. Therefore, new programmes of study for history will not be ready for teaching until September 2014. Professor Simon Schama has been appointed by the Secretary of State to lead this element of the consultation. He has been tasked with consulting widely with teachers and academic historians to establish the ‘core’ content for the curriculum - around this core teachers will have great flexibility about what else to teach. Simon Schama will be joined on this history review by Professor David Cannadine and Professor Niall Ferguson.

What is the Historical Association doing?

We see it as our duty to contribute to the Call for Evidence to give a voice to the 6000+ teachers, academics and lay people who are our members, so at the moment the primary and secondary committees are working together to complete a draft submission. Our submission starts with our core mission: to make sure that young people are able to enjoy a rounded and rigorous historical education throughout primary and secondary school.

What do you need to do?

We cannot complete the submission without your help because we want to make sure that your voice is heard. The HA document will be published to you before being submitted to the Secretary of State. Please send us your comments to make sure that we accurately reflect the position of history teaching today and how it should develop in the future. Whilst this may be a time of uncertainty, it also represents a tremendous opportunity to secure the place of History in the curriculum.

If you would like to get in touch in the meantime with your views or comments (particularly on the areas for comment bulleted above), please email:

JISC TechDis subject and library survey – experiences in obtaining alternative formats

Do you have experience of working with publishers to source or produce accessible texts for your students? 

JISC TechDis are seeking to produce a summary of publisher responsiveness to requests for alternative and/or accessible texts on a subject by subject basis.  Students with accessibility needs can benefit enormously from the provision of an online version.

The summary aims to:

  1. Advise subject communities on the best publishers in their subject areas in terms either providing texts in accessible format at source (e.g. accessible e-book platforms), or supporting requests for alternative formats of hard copy books.
  2. Provide early feedback to publishers commended for their accessibility awareness.
  3. Identify problem publishers.  These will be approached (in partnership with intermediaries and peers within the industry) to give them feedback, make them aware of the issues and point them to advice and guidance from the Right to Read Alliance and the publishing industry.

Further details can be found in this pdf from TechDis subjectcentresurvey.doc.  The survey should take no more than 5 minutes to complete and is available at:  

January 25, 2011

Call for Postgraduate Papers

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Real and Imagined Communities

Historical Perspectives is a history society established and run by postgraduates for postgraduates. Our eighth annual conference, ‘Real and Imagined Communities’, will be held at The University of Strathclyde, Glasgow on the 2nd and 3rd June 2011. This will build on the success of our previous conferences, which have included, ‘Conflict and Conformity: Challenging Narratives of the Past’ and ‘Interpreting Relationships of Power.’ Our conferences provide postgraduates with an opportunity to present their research in a supportive environment, developing the skills needed to complete a successful doctoral career.

The theme for 2011, ‘Real and Imagined Communities’, is intended to encourage participation by postgraduates working in a range of disciplines in the Arts and Social Sciences. Papers can be on any topic relating to the theme of ‘Real and Imagined Communities’ from a historical perspective and could include, but are not limited to, these issues:

·        Do some historical communities or groups take precedence over others in our understanding of the past?

·        How do governments react to different historical communities or groups?

·        Is a notion of sympathy important for researchers of historical communities or groups? How do we wrestle with issues of professional integrity and overcome bias?

·        Are narratives of certain historical communities or groups easier to suppress than others and are these narratives harder to find?

·        To what extent does research into spatial history reshape our understanding of historical communities or groups?

·        Does the availability of sources and archive material dictate what is researched? If so, what problems does this create in the telling of history? Which historical communities or groups are potentially overlooked?

These questions are meant only as suggestions and we welcome proposals for twenty-minute papers on any topic related to the theme, from any discipline. It may also be possible to publish papers in a special edition of eSharp, an international online journal for postgraduate research in the arts, humanities, social sciences and education, based at the University of Glasgow. To help us assess enthusiasm for this idea, it would be appreciated if proposals for papers could be accompanied by an indication of any interest in the paper being included in an edition of eSharp.

Please submit proposals of c.250 words by 28th February 2011

To or to Alison Turnbull (Historical Perspectives), Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, McCance Building, University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, G1 1XQ

If you would like more information about the society & conference please visit our website:

January 19, 2011

Call for Proposals: King James in the Curriculum

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King James in the Curriculum: Biblical Literacy in 2011 (25th - 28th May 2011, Sheffield)
A conference for educators, lecturers and researchers.

The world's best-selling book, the Bible has had a huge impact on fields as diverse as history, politics, philosophy, and art. Novels, poetry, and music have all been inspired by, and drawn on, the rich legacy of the Bible. No translation has had such great influence as the King James or Authorized Version. In the words of one prominent intellectual, "not to know the King James Bible, is to be in some small way, barbarian" (Richard Dawkins, interview with the 2011 Trust). Yet it is one thing to acknowledge the place of the Bible in shaping our culture, and quite another to tackle the growing ignorance of its contents.

400 years on from the King James Bible, this conference aims to address a particular and timely question: "What is the role of the Bible in today's classroom?"

Biblical literacy may be on the wane, but the Bible's influence on our culture is not. It is present in our politics and poetry, our newspapers and everyday communication.  The conference will include opportunities for discussion, debate and constructive consideration of how to address the decline in biblical awareness and the effect this has on students' understanding of culture, history and society.

If you would like to propose a paper or workshop, please visit Monday, 24th January 2011.

January 17, 2011

Quality Enhancement Work in Wales

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The HEA in Wales is currently leading work to coordinate activity in the Welsh sector to enhance specific areas of learning and teaching in HE at the request of the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales (HEFCW). This joint approach will lead to greater benefits for students as a result of both universities and sector organisations working together to enhance students' learning experiences.

A new enhancement theme - Graduates for our future - has been identified for higher education institutions and sector orgnisations in Wales to focus their learning and teaching activities. Three work-strands will sit under this theme:

  1. Students as partners;
  2. Learning in employment;
  3. Learning for employment.

More information about the work can be found at:

Change Academy 2011: Call for proposals

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It is clear that higher education is facing a challenging future, with reduced public funding, an increased focus on enhancing the student learning experience and an even greater emphasis on organisational effectiveness. Change Academy is your opportunity to approach these challenges in an imaginative and creative way. Organised in partnership between the Higher Education Academy and the Leadership Foundation for Higher Education, Change Academy is a year-long process that includes specific development opportunities for nominated team leaders, an ongoing support network and a four-day residential. It provides a creative environment in which the whole team can focus on planning and developing strategies for lasting change.

The deadline for proposals for the 2011 Change Academy is Thursday 3 March 2011. To find out more, please contact the Change Academy team (01904 717500 or or visit our website, which includes video commentaries from 2010 participants. If you would like to discuss potential change project ideas with one of the programme directors, please contact Steve Outram (07976 132804) or Lesly Huxley (07977 457949).

December 02, 2010

1000th Review in History published by the Institute for Historical Research

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Reviews in History publishes its 1,000th review

Reviews in History, the online journal of the Institute of Historical Research (IHR), publishes its 1,000th review today.

Launched in 1996, Reviews covers books and digital resources across every area of historical interest, with all reviews being undertaken by leading experts in the field. It has always been noted for its broad scope, chronologically, geographically and thematically. It now publishes a new issue every week on its recently redesigned website (, each featuring four original reviews.

From the start, the journal has published reviews of greater length than those usually found in scholarly periodicals (between 2,000 and 3,000 words), and as a consequence of its digital-only format has also been able to make them available much earlier.

Reviews also allows authors and editors a right of reply, stimulating discussion and providing readers with an insight into the major debates occurring at the cutting edge of historical research.

The reviews are freely available and enjoy a large and growing readership, from academics to the wider public interested in history. They provide an invaluable resource for researching, teaching and studying history at undergraduate and postgraduate levels.

In recent months particular effort has been made to focus on the expanding number of digital resources in history, with reviews being commissioned to examine not just the content but the functionality and operability of these tools now transforming the historian’s craft.

Initially funded by the Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC) in 1996, Reviews is now supported by IHR core funding, reflecting its centrality to the Institute’s research facilitation remit. It is a striking example of external seed-corn funding leading to long-term sustainability in the digital sphere.

This week’s special ‘1,000’ issue features Gary Magee and Andrew Thompson’s Empire and Globalisation: Networks of People, Goods and Capital in the British World, c.1850–1914, reviewed by Stuart Ward, and Elizabeth Tilley’s take on The Punch Brotherhood: Table Talk and Print Culture in Mid-Victorian London by Patrick Leary. Two major new digital resources, The Illustrated London News Historical Archive, 1842–2003 and London Lives 1690–1800, are also reviewed, by Peter Sinnema and Ben Heller respectively.

Dr Jane Winters, Head of Publications at the IHR, said: 'Reviews in History was a truly innovative digital publishing initiative when it was launched in 1996 and there is still nothing quite like it in the field. It enshrined the authorial right to reply more than a decade before humanities researchers began seriously to challenge traditional forms of peer review in the digital environment, and made full use of the flexibility of the digital medium. The journal is a central element of the IHR's publishing programme, and we very much look forward to the publication of the next 1,000 reviews. If Reviews continues as it has developed thus far, the 2,000th article may well look very different.'

For more information about Reviews contact Danny Millum, Deputy Editor at

Bringing the Outside In Student competition Winners

The History Subject Centre is pleased to announce that there has been a tie for first place for the Bringing the Outside In student essay competition.


Owing to the high quality of the submissions, a collection of all case studies will shortly be published in the eLibrary. In the meantime, our congratulations to all the students who submitted.

November 29, 2010

Registration Opens for Teaching as a Postgraduate Researcher: London & Northeast

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The History Subject Centre, in conjunction with the History Lab, will be holding two free, full-day events on Teaching as a Postgraduate Researcher. The first of these will be held on 23 February 2011 at the Institute of Historical Research in London. The second will be held at Newcastle University on 14 March 2011.

For more information, or to register a place, please visit

November 15, 2010

The End of the Subject Centre Network

The Board of the Higher Education Academy met on 10th November to decide on the organisation's future structure and focus. The HEA's future work will concentrate on activity that supports institutions and their staff in improving teaching in higher education. The Board has agreed a range of services which will be built around three aspects of the student learning experience: teacher excellence, developing academic practice and institutional strategy. The HEA Board has stated that the Academy will continue to support academics in their disciplines. However, they are disbanding the Subject Centre network and, in the future, disciplinary work will be provided by a series of associates on fixed term contracts. These associates will generally be expected to support more than one disicpline. The changes are expected to be implemented over the academic year 2011-12 and there will be some (reduced) funding for the History Subject Centre to aid in the transition.

This announcement which comes only days after the publication of the Browne report and the government's Comprehensive Spending Review is a further setback for History in Higher Education (as well as in other sectors). In the short time that the History Subject Centre has been based at Warwick we have worked with some inspirational students and academics committed to enhancing History teaching and learning at the front line. It is difficult (if not impossible) to see how such communities of practice could be sustained within the proposed structure. Resources such as our highly-regarded website will be subsumed into a generic conglomerate.  

We are actively investigating possibilities of sustaining the History Subject Centre in a different guise outwith the Academy structure, not least since subject centres are widely regarded as the most valuable element within the HEA portfolio. We would be interested to hear your views and ideas, as well as your reactions to the more general HEA proposals. Our annual conference in April will offer an opportunity to discuss this along with the other challenges currently facing our discipline. If you value the work of the Subject Centre team please let us know. We are very grateful for your support.




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