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Hodder History Expert Blog

The 30th National Schools History Project Conference: Day three
By Tony Fox
13 Jul

Got the T-shirt

It started with a dilemma; what to wear. On Friday I wore my Battlefields Trust shirt for Friday (because that was the focus of my fringe session) on Saturday it was the Battle of Stockton T-Shirt to promote the campaign to mark the day when the town fought fascism on the streets.

But the last day is much more relaxed. I chose Dangermouse.

Embedding local history

Local history is my passion. I believe strongly in the value of ‘history around us’ for all students, so I am pleased to see that it has been retained and emphasised in the new KS4 specifications. I have found, however, that many schools, see this element as distinct and separate from the other elements of the specification.

In my workshops I was arguing that we should take a holistic approach and embed local history into the curriculum whenever we can for all key stages. At the first running on Saturday I found to my pleasure that the SHP attendees don’t need persuading this should be done, all they need is practical ideas as to how to do it. The conference had already given them many ideas as detailed in my previous blogs. I tried to add a few more.

I am reading Proud Journey  at the moment, so as people arrived they were regaled with Bob Cooney’s Miracle by The Young’uns. The unusual room layout made it a multi-screen experience – the video appeared on all screens around the room.

I wanted to show how and why we can have local history studies in every topic of every Key Stage, using Michael Riley’s Light touch/half & half and History around us idea. I demonstrated local history examples of Archaeology, Battlefields, Buildings, Displays, Events, Memorials, Poetry and Songs, that can be used to enrich the curriculum.

I felt I had tried to cram far too much into it, rushing through the material. However the handouts and presentation will be posted on the SHP website soon, so you can see the ideas for yourself, and maybe use some of the ideas.

For the moment, you can view the presentation  here. Most examples are from my home town, as I wanted to demonstrate that local history resources are found in any locality. One doesn’t need to choose a 'history-rich' area. As others have demonstrated at this conference, ordinary places can be as rich as our traditional sites.

The final plenary

The final plenary was Subjectivity as a strength: using oral history in your KS3 curriculum, presented by Helen Snelson.

She recommended The Voice of the Past by Paul Thompson, which she had used as inspiration for an oral history project she ran in her own school, getting students to interview members of their family, who had lived through the Cold War.

It inspired me to re-examine my own oral history resources - particularly the local NUWM activist interviews I got hold of a few months ago, which provide an insight into context for the 1934 Stockton Hunger march.

Final thoughts

In my opinion the conference is still the best event for History professional development. I feel privileged to be a part of this wonderful teaching community, not just because I encounter so many great ideas and strategies to take into my own work, but also because I am allowed to make a small contribution myself and be a part of something significant.

I am already looking forward to next year.

Tony Fox

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