The poverty of utility – why we need a higher rationale for the Humanities

At the 2017 Telegraph Festival of Education at Wellington College, I spoke on the future of the Humanities. The posting that follows summarises my some of my key points. A common modern rationale for the study of the Humanities is the acquisition of skills that can be applied to particular workplace occupations. The incompleteness of …

Teacher and student voices in cross-subject learning: Sherriff’s Journey’s End and Monet’s Orangerie Waterlilies

For too long the boundaries between subjects have seemed like those ruler-straight colonial-era borders, pencilled across maps in distant chancelleries, answering to longitudinal and latitudinal abstracts, with little regard for topographical realities. Recently I have been exploring opportunities with colleagues to see how a collaborative approach might support student learning, through mobilising pedagogical skills and …

What do independent schools gain from working with the state sector?

“What do we get out of this?” is a question that may be asked fairly by an independent school when any form of structured relationship with a state school is proposed. The potential benefits to state schools from such contacts have been well rehearsed - including use of facilities, access to subject expertise for sixth …

The future of the Humanities in Secondary Education

International competitiveness, the demands of a high-skill, knowledge-based economy, and the global nature of technology-based industries, are all factors that have shaped the increasing prioritisation of STEM in UK government thinking in recent years. This trend has been sharpened by anxiety over international comparative data for pupil numeracy and scientific performance, resulting in significant policy …

Why the Humanities need more subject-based professional learning

The growth of knowledge-focused professional learning in Maths and the Sciences has been a notable and welcome feature of teacher education and development in recent years. This STEM emphasis is hardly surprising given, among other factors, the significant difficulties experienced by many schools in recruiting and retaining teachers with the appropriate degree qualifications in these …

Cross-subject extension in French and History: a brief reflection on practice

As I have noted in a previous post, there is no single effective way to deliver extension teaching, especially in the Humanities. One model that has long interested me, as a History teacher, is the potential for cross-subject extension. For many years the debate that has pitted skills against content in teaching and learning has …

Extension teaching and learning for Sixth Form History. What’s next ?

As the season for university applications approaches, the question of how to most effectively extend sixth form student learning becomes topical. Of course there is no generic answer for all subjects. In a quantitative/numerical based subject the progression between levels of difficulty and challenge can be more immediately evident to the student for many reasons, …