Aim: To improve the enthusiasm and confidence of Year 13 History students and to raise the numbers applying to study History at university.
Background: It was decided to introduce the Pre-U qualification as it constrained the breadth of topics less than A Levels. The Pre-U was initially demanding as there are no set text books and students are expected to read a wide range of material. Pupils needed a new confidence to study in this way, and it was hypothesised that providing a wide range of historical enrichment would help them gain this confidence when faced with a wide variety of sources.
Year 1: Enrichment activities and trips were organised and a History Society was created to raise the profile of History in the community. Year 12-13 students ran workshops at a local primary school. This was followed by a local History Day run by Year 12 students and attended by the Mayor, local primary schools, governors and parents. To increase the uptake at university, 15 students attended a session with PhD historians at University College London.
Year 2: An Ancient History Club was created and the History Society continued to be run by A Level students. More university visits were planned and a day of enrichment activities dedicated to History was organised for each year group, with Sixth Form students acting as peer helpers.
Year 3: A Churchill-themed public speaking competition provided opportunities for stretch and challenge and as part of their research students visited Churchill College and Queens’ College at the University of Cambridge. Links were made with a school in Ghana, and 50 students visited the school with resources they had prepared to lead sessions on the slave trade.
Year 4: Students participated in a visit to Ypres and a debating event was organised with two other local schools. It was attended by undergraduates from Christchurch University, Canterbury.
Evidence: Enrichment materials, student feedback, History uptake data and university applications.
Impact: Links with other organisations were successfully developed and enrichment activities developed students’ interest in and commitment to History. The number of students taking an Extended Project Qualification in History has risen from 2 in Year 1 to 10 in Year 4, and Pre-U students are getting more experience of how to conduct historical research from university visits. Many of the enrichment activities have been staffed by non-history specialists, who have commented on how much they have learnt.
Reflections: Without the support of the senior leadership, it would have been very difficult to provide the depth and breadth of enrichment we have. Attributing improvements in exam results to enrichment is a challenge, as there are so many variables at play.