Students at Leith Academy get to grips with Scotland’s past. ClickView/Supplied

Rich future for history teaching

Online resources lay ghost of ‘educational scandal’ to rest


As far back as 1964 the extent of Scottish history taught in Scotland was being questioned. History lec- turer JD Hargreaves from Aberdeen University remarked that “relatively little of the work of general history departments in Scottish universities was distinctively Scottish in either direction or content”. He went on to claim that the social and political history of Scotland since 1707 was studied less than that of Yorkshire. Sir Tom Devine, professor

emeritus at Edinburgh University, described it as “an educational scandal” that overloaded timetables and competition from other sub- jects have been allowed to reduce the amount of time pupils spend studying Scottish history. It was always the case that Scot-

tish students were leaving school with little knowledge of their nation’s past because history was squeezed out of the curriculum. Even today, the teaching of Scottish history attracts much discussion and media attention. Tankfully, the curriculum for ex-

cellence (CfE) provides an opportu- nity to review the teaching of history at all levels from primary through to upper secondary, with a further driver of change being an increased emphasis on Scottish history.


However, the challenge for teachers is finding appropriate, high quality content to deliver the learning. Since the Scottish parliament

pushed to incorporate more Scot- tish history into the curriculum, it is now included in all stages of the curriculum. It is also a core part of the CfE exam system for national 4s, and 5s and the Scottish Wars of Independence (1286-1328) are also an advanced part of the highers. Tankfully, Scottish history is very

popular at all stages of education. Depending on the area of history

that a teacher is covering at any particular time it is vital for them to be able to find exam relevant mate- rial where the key factual areas can be selected and used in isolation. From my experience, bringing

Scottish history into the curricu- lum is just the start. Tere has been very little learning content available which is a significant challenge for teachers.

Taking Scottish medieval history as an example, it is a particularly difficult topic to engage children in, but with very few exciting visual resources such films relating to this era, that are targeted to the correct age group, in terms of both content and length of time, it is even harder. I used clips that I found on You-

Tube but the challenge was that a two-hour documentary may offer

great content but in each one there would only be a small part that was relevant to what needed to be covered. With a packed curriculum,

teachers need to focus on the key facts and learning points. I then started working with video

learning content provider Click- View to consult on its new Scottish history series. Content on Click- View includes television documen- taries and films to compliment this and provide a deeper resource. We worked on creating short vid-

eos specifically focused on the key learning objectives for the Scottish Wars of Independence. Te series has been aligned to the curriculum and provides teachers with segments that cover specific learning objectives with full teaching support material. Before Covid in class we used

several clips of Neil Oliver, the television presenter, archaeologist, conservationist, and author. Te beauty of ClickView is that all TV documentaries and films, including Oliver’s work, are freely available alongside the other video-based content, which comes with lesson activity ideas, homework sugges- tions, assessment functionality and can also be cut down into digestible sized chunks of learning content. l

Jesanna Gooch is a history teacher at Leith Academy, Edinburgh

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