Subject Radar History - December/Winter 2012

Plymstock School History Department

Contact HOD Andrew Withey

Our Aim is to be:

Challenging, Innovative, Relevant, Reflective, Fun and Focused

The History Department at Plymstock School challenges itself and its students to be learners first and foremost. As learners we all take risks and thrive in an environment that encourages respect and tolerance. Nurturing a collegiate approach between all stakeholders has seen this department thrive.

Where we can, we lead. Risk in an environment of mutual respect leads to innovation and evolution of best practice in a world already years removed from our own formal school education. If we are not innovative then we risk almost certainly becoming an anachronism in a dynamically and exponentially changing world. We must therefore, always strive to be relevant to the world in which our students live and that means always reflecting on our practice and the learning experience we all share in the classroom.

We want our students to enjoy their learning and we want to enjoy teaching. Fun and individual achievement has its place in our classrooms. We undertake all of this in a focused, professional and supportive way.

As a HOD I seek to be proactive; employ the best colleagues; look after them; place a collegiate approach to planning, reviewing  and development at the centre of our work and delegate responsibility and leadership  to those best skilled.


AHW Andrew Withey Head of Department and Secondary History AST

MOW – Michelle West – Key Stage Manager

DJW – Daniel Willcocks – Citizenship Co-ordinator

NJW – Nicola Withey – Professional Tutor for Initial Teacher Education

JMR – Judith Rich – Teacher of History

1.Can you identify examples of outstanding classroom practice in your school that contribute to high levels of achievement for students in KS3 and KS4?

Planning –

Curriculum planning enabled us to create an integrated skills based curriculum within a comprehensive and chronological Scheme of Learning (SOL). We have been able to incorporate key historical events, contentious events and cross-curricular links whilst planning for assessment of key skills, processes, Plts and measuring progression. Keeping oversight of the whole curriculum has been core to our planning

Our planning has sought to blur to boundaries between Key Stages taking the freedom of KS3 to create a Challenging, Innovative, Relevant, Reflective, Fun and Focused curriculum that plans to deliver t the knowledge and skills development for a smooth transition into KS4 and onto KS5. Examples include the development of the POINT, EVIDENCE ANALYSIS model of essay writing across all Key Stages within writing frames tailored to the targets and aspirations of students. This provides a firm foundation on which students can evolve their analytical written style. We also ground students with key knowledge & skills in KS3 that will support their progression into KS4 & 5.

Assessment for Learning, Tracking & Intervention –

‘Assessment and target-setting systems are thorough and are highly

responsive to students’ needs, particularly at Key Stage 4. Tracking

procedures are highly sophisticated and are held up as a model of good

practice within the school. Students are extremely appreciative of their

teachers’ willingness to give up their time to help them succeed.’ Ofsted Sept 2009

The Department has been cited as leading the school in the development and embedding of AfL. We feel this also assists in demonstrating both Student Voice and ECM, through listening to students reflections on their progress, and where necessary amending our work to better deliver our teaching.

      Built into our Schemes of Learning at KS3 & 4 developing at KS5

AfL materials available on Shared Area for each KS3 Unit of Study

AfL links to pupil tracking at KS4 & KS3 using very specialised ‘in house’ designed spreadsheets to compliment the wider tracking of students through SIMs


History has pioneered the integration of ICT at Plymstock over many years including:

we have a self-developed web  &

shared & staff areas- to facilitate ease of delivery of teaching resources and access by students and staff to                      relevant materials

Pioneering video to DVD to widen the use of these resources.Our revision DVD has been a key tool in raising exam performance

             especially amongst target groups like underachieving boys

Use of Mp4 video in lesson and to support revision

Use of Mp3 audio to increase access and reflect learning preferences at KS4 & 5. This was critical in raising performance in UNIT 6 of

              our previous A2 course

INSET is annually led by the Department on the uses of ICT within the classroom and delivered to PGCE students at Exeter University

ICT has allowed us to embed our subject within a rapidly evolving medium that is central to how children learn today and through which they increasingly view the world. I feel we have an obligation to reflect that world.

Community Cohesion

‘The contribution of history to community cohesion is outstanding.’ Ofsted Sept 2009

‘The head of department’s work in his role as an advanced skills teacher

has helped develop a strong history teaching network across Plymouth.

This has resulted in a number of outstanding learning opportunities for

Plymstock students’ Ofsted Sept 2009

History’s role in being relevant has contributed to a wide community role, both within the school, locally, regionally, nationally and through the web, internationally. This role has been enhanced through my AST role, innovative social history and citizenship projects like the Oral History Project, and school developments like the allotment leading to the Dig for Victory Project (DJW). It has brought History to life, taken it out of the classroom and placed it firmly in the real world. It has allowed us to challenge perceptions of our subject and use that engagement to develop skills, understanding and consequently raise achievement.

As part of the schools development plan, the department has led and put itself at the centre of a city based educational network, a model cited as best practice for post-16 subject networks (see David Bowles, Wendy Roderick – LA Consultants). AHW has shared all documents and planning materials with Network subject leaders. Plymouth History Network is the model for all Post 16 networks in the Plymouth LA as well as the Devon Network run through Exeter University (see Graham Waites and Kevin O’Connell – ITT Course Leaders).

School Based

Dig for Victory Project

Relevant & Contentious Curriculum Developments dealing with issues like–Immigration, 

             British Identity, Political Literacy, Citizenship

City Wide / Local

Plymouth History Network – 18 meetings over 5yrs

Links to Plymouth University – (see History Network Archive Staff Area)

PASH (Plymouth Association of Secondary Heads) INSET providers – ICT and Assessment & Intervention

Plymouth University Learning Community

Devonport Dockyard – developing the base and its resources beyond the occasional Navy Days

Plymouth Central Library – Bicentennial of Abolition of Slavery

HMS Cambridge – working with The National Trust to link the work of the NT to the local community. This has consolidated links established with the Trust through the Duke of Edinburgh Scheme run within the school

Oral History Project –  This has encouraged generational discussions within families, across generations and within the community. This work is linked to Armed Forces Week and is annually displayed at Plymouth Guild Hall.

‘The annual Year 9 oral history project, involving members of the local

community, is a great example of the department’s work to develop

community cohesion. As a result of this work, an excellent archive of local

history is being created.’ Ofsted Sept 2009

NJW was active in bringing our local MP (Gary Streeter) into school to explain the political process to Yr 11 & 12 students through the pastoral curriculum

Curriculum development with Eggbuckland (GCSE & L2L), Estover (KS3 Haig & Yr 11 GCSE Controlled Assessment)  Ivybridge (GCSE & AS Stalin), DHSB and PHSG (AS Stalin & Improving Grades at A-Level)


AST work

Links with Exeter University (3 staff lecture on the ITT course & 2 have on the SAS course)


  1.     Veterans Day 2006 - 11 – present (with St Boniface and PHSG) – see

Historical Association – JMR is a member, conferences and seminars attended

AHW worked collaboratively with colleagues in Wiltshire (St Lawrence School Wiltshire) & Devon (South Dartmoor CC) to develop our understanding of the new KS3 orders. DJW is an examiner and has provided guidance and assistance in marking and expectations to fellow teachers and staff

NJW has been published regarding Citizenship work on the Magna Carta & political literacy.(Hodder & Stoughton) Cathie Holden – University of Exeter


Auschwitz Project (an annual visit by two VIth Form students)- Research displayed in School Library and  Plymstock Library. Students have subsequently spoken to both Plympton and Plymstock Rotary Clubs, Plymstock Library and will be feeding back to the History Network.

Global Curriculum – UK, Europe, N.America, Asia, Africa + Yr 8 Extended Project (History, Geography & RS) on the links between Britain and her former imperial possession

  1.     A web presence which has linked us to practitioners and pupils globally – see: History Network & Youtube

Traffic and usage for these sites can be provided if required, but we have had feedback from as far a field as Afghanistan, North America, Australia and Japan

Independent Learning Skills –

Reducing dependency on teachers and developing employment skills has always been an area that History, in cooperation with other subjects, has worked to enhance e.g. Reading for Meaning. Progress at KS3 has been built upon through KS4 to ensure our A Level students understand principles of autonomy, and challenge obstacles rather than conceding to them.

The plan with Independent Learning is that the Independent Project work, AfL and Group Work (non-teacher led) built into the KS3 curriculum develops progress in tandem with the Learn 2 Learn programme running parallel with it. This reinforces the skills learnt in Learn 2 Learn and illustrates the transferable nature of the skills to other subjects.

Independent work, AfL and L2L are now clearly embedded and evidenced through the Yr7 & 8 curriculums and will be equally apparent at Yr9. Existing work can be evolved to pursue this into Yr10 (Life in Nazi Germany) and contribute to the blurring of the boundaries between Key Stages. Our Yr 13 coursework has been an outstanding example of Independent Learning taught within a structured and supportive environment, and the opportunity to re-write both Yr 12 & 13 has allowed the innovations of KS3 to be developed here as well

The 5R’s – look at AfL file

Oral History Project – Yr 9

Project work – Yr7 – Roman Life, Crusaders journey (see display in AWH room and crusader project archive on SWA)

ETI Group Project Yr 8

Yr 9 Trench Warfare Project

Enigma lesson Yr 9

Life in Nazi Germany Yr 10

L2L Trench Warfare Carousel in preparation for World War One Project

PLTS throughout KS3

Yr 13 Coursework model developed by LDH and adopted by DJW for A2 Unit 4

L2L skills throughout KS3,4 & 5

AHW & MOW all attended the Independent Learning Skills Seminar delivered by Steve Parkes (Teaching & Learning AST at Heles) and were so impressed that we invited him to talk to all staff at Plymstock School on two occasions last year.

An example of progression of Independent Learning built into the SOW is:

In Year 8 the students undertake a group task on the Industrial Revolution. They have to research the information on their allocated topic. They present their findings to the class as a presentation. As a class, all students peer assess the presentations. To fully individually evaluate their performance each group will get copies of the feedback peer assessments that the class made. Immediately after this unit the same groups will now look at politics and pressure groups. They need to produce an information leaflet and an outline of an advert (also progression from Year 7 Media topic in English). To effectively undertake this task, students will be asked to action plan their work as a group using the feedback from the Industrial Revolution project. These tasks are also building upon and putting into practice skills taught in L2L e.g. good group work, reflection using De Bono’s Thinking Hats, action planning.

Independent learning has been coordinated with the work of Ruth Hogben (Librarian) who wanted to update Life Education curriculum programme which is now planned to be delivered through L2L.

2.Are their features of leadership and management within the subject that you would identify as key drivers of your success?

‘The effectiveness of leadership and management is outstanding.’ Ofsted Sept 2009

‘Outstanding leadership and management have ensured that developments

in history provision are having a positive impact on history results and on

the continued success of the subject within the school.’ Ofsted Sept 2009

As Head of Department I place a great deal of time and attention upon the well being of my staff. I see my role as being one who allows them the independence within clear quality assurance boundaries to innovate and experiment. I seek to liberate colleagues from as much as possible to allow them to focus upon teaching and learning

Striving to create a team ethos with the focus upon ‘we’ rather than ‘I’. A collegiate approach shares both success and challenges

Delegation to individual’s key strengths and abilities. This encourages team building and empowers all staff for the collective good:

‘The head of department provides clear direction to the work of the

department. All staff take responsibility for curriculum development and

their work is supported by well-targeted professional development. Staff

                         are hard-working and there is an excellent team spirit.’

                                                                                                     Ofsted Sept 2009

This is dependent upon appointing the best staff and requires well established links with out ITT providers.

Placing organization, action-planning and reflection at the heart of what we do to make delivery as simple as possible:

‘Strong management structures are underpinned by an appropriate

development plan linked to the whole-school curriculum review. Accurate

analysis of strengths and areas for development is accompanied by clear

procedures for checking the work of the department. Plans are currently

being developed to ensure that scrutiny of students’ work is used more

                                   effectively to improve provision.’

                                                                                        Ofsted Sept 2009

Systems and good practice have been developed and refined over time to make them efficient and effective. The evolution of our assessment,tracking & intervention is a good example of this:

Assessment and target-setting systems are thorough and are highly

responsive to students’ needs, particularly at Key Stage 4. Tracking

procedures are highly sophisticated and are held up as a model of good

practice within the school. Students are extremely appreciative of their

                   teachers’ willingness to give up their time to help them succeed.’

                                                                                              Ofsted Sept 2009                                   

Planning thoroughly in order to be proactive rather than reactive to change and having systems that can adapt easily to change

I believe that results ultimately stem from delivering the best classroom practice at consistently high standards, from the best teachers delivering the best lessons tailored to the students abilities and learning style.

3. What are the features of KS3 provision in your school that you feel may inspire students to pursue the subject in KS4?

The motto of the department is embedded in our SoL:

Challenging, Innovative, Relevant, Reflective, Fun and Focused

Effective and commended classroom management that allows students to perform and succeed to the best of their ability

At Key Stage 3 especially a departmental focus to praise more than we sanction. To this end we have developed a bank of certificates and letters to issue when required.

The plan has always been to deliver a relevant curriculum linking content to contemporary examples and relevant, employable skills. This gives the subject relevance and gives it a credibility in the eyes of our students

In reviewing our practice we determined to share the best of what we do to embrace all teaching styles and to give students the fullest experience. It is all too easy for teachers to become predictable and students to anticipate a repetitive style of teaching and learning. The reality as we find it is that familiarity breeds contempt. Therefore, our teaching takes us as teachers as much out of our comfort zone as we expect of the students. Please see exemplar SoL

All lessons are expected to have a purpose, clearly expressed through objectives and outcomes which are to lead to the enhancing of both skills and knowledge, being transferable to other aspects of their education and life.

A clear progression of skills and knowledge made clear throughout all Key Stages allows for continuity and the evolution of skills within clear and transparent framework

We challenge students to think about where else they can use the skills and knowledge that they have learnt in History

  1.     We participate in student voice seeking feedback and empowering students.

  2.     When required we will not hesitate in seeking advice and guidance from students to enhance and develop our own skills. My own web design work was initially supported by students and so is the assessment and tracking spreadsheets we have developed over many years

4. How do you promote the value of the subject to KS3 students? Are there specific events or enrichment opportunities you use for this?

In the last year we have appointed a new member of staff whose responsibility is to enhance further the enrichment opportunities that exist through our own efforts and by working with the G&T co-coordinator.

This year we have been running, in addition to the information already listed for Community Cohesion above:

Yr 8 are participating in the Scott Centenary celebrations in Plymouth, creating a display for Lord Mayors day

Yr12 are writing a speech for the Lord Mayor and dignitaries on the theme of ‘Exploration’

  1.     Yr12 are participating in the Plymstock Centenary Celebrations organising a Day in the Life Photo Shoot’ and Time Capsule

  2.     Yr 13 A2 students have been given a tour of Plymouth University Library to assist them in the writing of their Coursework

We have continued to develop our A,G&T programme and this year will be refining it further through enhancing our links with the school library:

5. Have networking and/or CPD activity, whether by SSAT or others, had an impact on your successes in the subject? If yes, please describe the activities.

I think it is fair to say that the school has become increasing involved in networking in the last five years and in my AST role I have been able to be part of this. It has shared the best of our practice and brought insight and improvements to our own. Please see Community Cohesion Section above and the weblink.

For any further information please contact me

Andrew Withey