Still smiling at the end of their first introductory seminar in June, these students are pioneering an exciting new Part 3 module, History Education, offering the chance to test and develop their interest in teaching careers before applying for postgraduate teacher-training.
On two-week placements in local secondary schools, they will each observe a range of History lessons across different age groups, then research and plan a lesson for a particular class to give jointly with a mentor on the school staff. Back at the university in the autumn, they will complete a placement log and a report on the independently planned lesson, then give an oral presentation on their experience on placement.
If this confirms their choice of a career in education, students should gain a real advantage in the increasingly tough competition for PGCE (Postgraduate Certificate in Education) and GTP (Graduate Teacher Programme) places. Others may decide to take their newly honed presentational, organisational, interpersonal and intrapersonal skills to different employment options. But either way, we hope History Education will increase choice and enhance personal career-development opportunities within the BA History programme.
So far, the indications are very promising. As places on the new module were limited by the number of placements offered by local schools, students had to undergo a formal selection process. Completing an application form, CV and covering letter, then attending for interview, provided useful career-development experience for all who participated. After accepting a specific placement, and going through CRB checking, successful candidates gave very positive feedback on the pre-placement seminars. Run jointly with the Institute of Education, these not only gave the History Education students the opportunity to bond as a group over an introduction to the module and to the History curriculum in schools. They also offered vital advice about professional behaviour in schools, lesson observation, lesson planning—and interesting food for thought about the pros and cons of the different routes to qualified teacher status provided by the PGCE and the GTP.
This first group of History Education students are now going out on placement, keen to keep in touch to share and compare their experiences and support each other through them. The Department wishes them the best of luck and success. We also warmly thank the eight participating schools whose much appreciated support has made this exciting venture possible: The Bulmershe School, Charters School, Little Heath School, Maiden Erlegh School, Prospect School, Ranelagh School, Reading School, and Waingels College.