This post follows up from a guest post first published in 2017 about planning for the History Around Us (HAU) unit in the then new GCSE (9-1) History B specification.
I thought that it was timely to look once again at the criteria for choosing a site, at some of the assessment lessons learned, and some examples of ways in which historical sites have been working with us to better support you and your students.
One of the unique features of the OCR SHP History specification is the ability for you to be relatively free to make an individual choice for the site you study.
We’ve seen a wide variety of sites being used, ranging from prehistoric ones to castles and abbeys, to mills and factories. We’ve even seen the occasional town centre.
What has been so encouraging and exciting is hearing from you about the choices you’ve made and how the students have engaged with it.
And if you follow us on Twitter @ocr_history you’ll likely learn two things.
A real life example of how sites can be used to great effect came about last year when I had the pleasure to attend a case study video shoot featuring Dan Keates, Head of History at Framingham Earl School in Norfolk, hosted by Michael Riley.
During the video shoot Dan explained how he used the HAU unit to complement the other courses they had chosen at the school.
Throughout the day I heard about how much the students had been engaged by both the qualification and the HAU topic in particular.
They loved learning and knowing about such a prominent part of the Norwich cityscape and it was clear to see the benefits they had gained from this new acquired knowledge.
It reminded me of my own teaching days, taking our year 10’s on a trip into the nearby village and down to the quarry.
And during that same field trip students’ were also amazed to hear how this small and sleepy village has had such a significant impact on the wider community, and indeed the country.
Given all that positivity, what better time to revisit the site study aspect? We look again at the criteria for choosing a site, share some of the assessment lessons learned and provide examples of ways in which historical sites have been working with us to better support you in your history teaching.
There are now 12 different questions available for student to practice on. Questions are constructed by combining different aspects of the criteria we set out and throughout the last few years we’ve seen great examples of students being asked to create their own questions by combining these different aspects.
From the summer, it was clear that most candidates have detailed knowledge of their sites and deployed it in response to the questions.
What became clear is that in some instances students needed to ensure they addressed the multiple strands the question had.
If a question asked about the activities and people associated the site, both ‘activities’ and ‘people’ need to be addressed and at higher levels will be interlinked.
If you are thinking of changing your site, or you are one of the many schools who have recently switched to the OCR B SHP specification, then it is important to remember the criteria each site must have in order to be approved.
This can be found in the specification and it is important to ensure that the content of the form mirrors what you want your students to discuss in any exam question.
So if you plan on teaching a specific aspect of a site, make sure the form reflects this. This form, in essence, is a scheme of work in its rawest state.
As I am sure you will have all found, the sites themselves are incredibly supportive of school visits, with many creating tailored programmes to support the learning needed.
We’ve recently had contact with a couple of different historical sites expressing an interest in the History B SHP GCSE and they have provided us with further information and a completed Site Proposal Form that we have been happy to approve for use.
The site itself certainly doesn’t have any problems with overlap in other content, given its origins and vast history.
Indeed, the first evidence of use of the site could be as much 7000 years ago! It is likely that the majority of studies, though, would look at the Roman age. Certainly, when answering a question on when and why people first created the site, the arrival of the Romans would be a logical place, providing a wealth of information for students to draw upon in an answer.
Its development over time also provides an interesting study, from the Roman temple, through to the development of the museum in 1897 and the extensive excavation that has occurred subsequently.
The second site that has been in touch is York Minster. York has had a long history of Christian presence, dating back to the 4th century. Its early history is one of destruction and rebuild, having been destroyed by fire, damaged by the Normans and destroyed again by the Danes and even more recently during the English Civil War. Each time it has been rebuilt and returned to its glory.
These sites are just two examples of the many fantastic opportunities open to students around the country and if you would like to know more, including a copy of the site proposal forms that they have completed and we have accepted, please do contact us. Alternatively, contact them direct!
If you have any question about how things work submit your comments below either. If you’d like to stay informed you can also sign up to receive email updates about any of our subjects or follow us on Twitter at @OCR_History.
For further information on History visit the OCR website.
Grant Robertson – Lead Subject Advisor
Grant started working at OCR in February 2014 and is a lead subject advisor. His degree is in History and Politics, with a focus on modern European and African history and 19th century political thought. Previously, Grant was a Head of Politics, Law and Humanities in schools in Kent and Kingston upon Thames. Outside of work he is an F1 junkie, a passionate Charlton Athletic fan and enjoys spending time with his family.