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The Schools History Project (SHP)


Hodder Education is proud to be the publisher for the Schools History Project. We are the only SHP endorsed publisher. This page tell you more about SHP and their relationship with Hodder Education; just click on the questions below to learn more:



What is the Schools History Project?

The Schools History Project (or SHP as it is usually known) is a curriculum development organisation for History.

It was set up in 1972 but four decades later SHP continues to exercise a dynamic influence on how history is taught in secondary schools through:
  • its publications for KS3, GCSE and A Level History (all published by Hodder Education) – including pupils’ books, teachers’ books and digital resources
  • its INSET (particularly the annual conference held every July which shares best practice in teaching and learning)
  • its advisory work – a network of SHP advisers throughout the country are available to support schools in introducing SHP courses in their schools
  • its website which shares new resources and ideas
Since 1978 the project has been based at Leeds Trinity University College.
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What are SHP's principles?

1. School history should be relevant and meaningful to young people

A determination to connect history to young people’s lives was the foundation of the original Schools Council History Project. Many young people still find it difficult to articulate why they are studying history. As history educators we need to make our subject meaningful for all children and young people by relating history to their lives in the 21st century. The Project strives for a history curriculum which encourages children and young people to become curious, to develop their own opinions and values based on a respect for evidence, and to build a deeper understanding of the present by engaging with and questioning the past.

2. School history should involve enquiry

Engaging in the process of historical enquiry and interrogating evidence were central to the original philosophy of SHP. The potential for pupils to undertake historical enquiry, to use historical sources constructively, and to communicate their understanding in creative and historically rigorous ways has yet to be fully realised. The Schools History Project believes that historical enquiry, the analysis of evidence and creative forms of communication should form the bedrock of the school history curriculum.

3. School history should build knowledge

The ‘study in development’ was a core aspect of SHP’s original philosophy. Understanding the connection between past and present, and changes and continuities across time, are vital dimensions of historical study. The project helps children and young people to develop a deeper knowledge of the past, a strong sense of period, and to construct robust chronological frameworks. A focus on changes and continuities in human affairs over long periods of time is central to SHP’s work.

4. School history should be broad – diversity

A particular hallmark of the original Schools History Project was the emphasis it placed on diversity. SHP believes that the history curriculum is often too narrowly defined, and that it should continue to offer more opportunities for children and young people to study a range of periods in history, civilisations and cultures beyond Europe, family and local history and more social and cultural history. SHP campaigns for a history curriculum that reflects the continuing social, cultural and ethnic diversity of Britain. The Schools History Project promotes diverse content, diverse approaches to the study of history and a focus on the diverse experiences of people in the past.

5. School history should include ‘history around us’

Generating an interest in, and knowledge of, the historic environment has been a core principle of the Schools History Project since its inception. Engaging with ‘history around us’, and considering what the historic environment can tell us about people’s lives and beliefs in the past, are some of the most stimulating aspects of learning history. The Project believes that there should be more opportunities for children and young people to study ‘history around us’ and it continues to develop innovative approaches to the study of the historic environment.

6. School history should be fun

The Schools History Project believes that learning history should be an enjoyable and life-enhancing experience for all children and young people, providing the foundations for lifelong thinking and engagement with history. SHP is committed to developing approaches to teaching and learning that combine enjoyment and active engagement with historical rigour.
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What is an SHP Official Text?

All SHP’s Official Texts are published by Hodder Education. They carry this logo and it is mark of quality.

The SHP principles are carried into all they do including their publications. When you see this logo on a book it means it has been carefully commissioned, reviewed and edited by SHP experts – usually the Directors of SHP themselves – to ensure it really does enhance learning. They are particularly looking for resources that:
  • make learning enjoyable and effective for students
  • help solve teachers’ practical day-to-day problems
  • has a CPD function (i.e. stimulating teachers to think about teaching and learning issues in a new way)
  • explore new ideas in creating resources
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What is the relationship with the GCSE SHP specifications?

Each English awarding body offers a GCSE specification called SHP or Schools History Project. These are all descended from the original SHP specification that so revolutionised school history with its emphasis on skills and with its combination of different approaches to history: depth study, development study, a modern world study and a study of ‘history around us’.

In recent years, GCSE history specifications have been substantially revised and re-structured. SHP does not directly control the content and approaches to assessment in Schools History Project GCSEs, but it does seek to influence GCSE history by creating books and resources for each awarding body that enable students to achieve highly and enjoy their GCSE history course.

Many SHP authors and advisers are also examiners for the main awarding bodies. They know what is required for exam success but in all their training and writing focus also on what will make a good teaching and learning experience.

Titles for AQA SHP
Titles for Edexcel SHP
Titles for OCR SHP

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What resources do Hodder Education publish for the Schools History Project?

Key Stage 3

Discovering the Past
the original book-per-year course and still going strong
Re-Discovering the Past
a simplified approach based on Discovering the Past but still pursuing real historical enquiry
What is History? And This is History!
one off topic books that offer radically new ways to teach each of the most popular areas of Key Stage 3 content
SHP History for Y7, Y8, Y9
the new book-per-year course for the revised national curriculum that focuses on themes and skills
Dynamic Learning
SHP History is SHP's first course to be fully available as a website in the Dynamic Learning platform updated every term with new material to keep the teaching fresh and challenging


Discovering the Past for GCSE
which includes some books for Modern World History as well as books for the SHP specifications
simpler books focusing on the core content but pursuing real historical enquiries – and introducing Exam Busters
Smarter History
a brand new board-specific series based on the approaches in the Essential series but geared to just one exam board to ensure that the Exam Buster feature is spot on for every specification.
Dynamic Learning
each of the most popular elements of the SHP GCSE course has its own digital resources in Dynamic Learning: Medicine, Crime, Germany and American West

A Level

SHP Advanced History core texts
comprehensive coverage of the most popular periods studied at A Level

Enquiring History
A new topic book series started in 2012 following an enquiry based approach to A Level History
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Who are the key people at SHP?

Michael Riley
has been Director since 2008. He teaches part-time in a Somerset school and provides a range of continuing professional development courses for history teachers.

Ian Dawson
is former Director and has been Publications Director for the past 14 years. Ian has his own website where he freely shares his ideas for active learning many of which directly support the teaching ideas in our books and resources

Former Directors are:
Chris Culpin (Director from 1996-2008)
Colin Shephard (Director from 1989-1996)

The SHP advisers around the country – one for each region

Dozens of authors of SHP material

At Hodder Education:
Jim Belben
, Editorial Director also serves on SHP Advisory board and has commissioned the new materials from SHP over the past 20 years.
Jenny Fitzgerald particularly specialises in the digital resources and Dynamic Learning.
And all the Hodder Education team work on the SHP resources in some way or another.

The thousands of teachers who use the SHP publications and websites or attend SHP training; hundreds of thousands of pupils and students who are using SHP resources every day. Hodder Education are proud to be part of this massive, vibrant, meaningful and exciting SHP Community.
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What CPD are SHP offering this year?

Click here to view the SHP Courses and Conferences page.

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Return to Enquiring History.