Aim: To explore the value of extracurricular trips and activities.
Background: The project initially aimed to address a slight fall in the number of students choosing History as an option in KS4-5. However, as it developed, the focus shifted towards choosing good and engaging trips across all key stages to increase students’ passion for History beyond the classroom, as something that exists all around and leads to many interesting careers. The shift occurred because it became clear that the journey to enjoying history began in Year 7, rather than due to last minute tactics to engage students before options evening in Year 9.
As well as the existing programme, which included essay-writing competitions, lecture conferences and a weekly research group, several new trips and activities were introduced. These included setting up a Horrible Histories Club and departmental involvement in the Battle of Waterloo commemoration project, in which a small number of students volunteered to research the life and contribution of a soldier to the battle. All of these students have chosen to take History A Level, indicating that the key to engaging students is to offer the opportunity to be real historians!
Activities were expanded to include involvement in the whole-school Shakespeare project with a week-long number of lessons on his life, and the introduction of a very well attended Sixth Form History Club. Year 12 students started to run the Horrible Histories Club, and trips abroad included Berlin and Vienna, with a trip to New York and Washington planned for the future.
Evidence: Key Stage 4-5 recruitment.
Impact: A range of new trips and extracurricular activities was introduced, reviewed and retained over the course of the project, and the commitment to the value and significance of trips and extracurricular activities is now entrenched in the ethos of the department. The number of students opting to study History also increased year-on-year:
Reflections: There is no doubt that our trips have helped to bring History to life and make the subject more appealing and meaningful for some of our students. It has also increased the confidence of some members of the department in their ability to arrange complex trips abroad and programmes that encourage our students to think as historians. While we believe that the real key to securing sustained engagement in the subject is great teaching and learning, and continuous professional development in that regard, we will continue to explore additional ways of enthusing our students.
Contact: Huw Dickson, Head of History, firstname.lastname@example.org