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Newstead Wood School

Newstead Wood School

Learning to Fly

These are the skills and habits which outstanding students of History develop. Do as many of these as possible to become completely independent in the subject and to develop the skills and knowledge needed to attain 8/9 at GCSE and A* at A Level. Remember that just doing what your teacher tells you - in your lessons and beyond - is not enough to develop your full potential in the subject.

In your lessons

  • Ask specific questions and for help.
  • Think critically about your own work and finding ways to improve it.
  • Listen to other students and the teacher, and be ready to challenge and argue with them!
  • Think about ways in which new knowledge you encounter in the lesson fits in with what you already know.

Between your lessons

  • Look back over your notes and activities after each lesson.
  • Review the work of a lesson - make sure you know what you have or haven’t understood.
  • Read ahead or around the topic, using books or websites.
  • Make notes of any questions to ask your teachers or look up.
  • Contact your teacher, in person or by email to ask for clarification and guidance.

Beyond your lessons

  • Watch relevant, high quality historical documentaries, reading historical novels or nonfiction and keeping a brief record in your folder on your History blog page at the front of your folder.
  • Talk to your friends and family about what you have read.
  • Listen to podcasts like ‘Making History’ on BBC Radio 4 (available on iplayer).
  • Listen to/read the news and following up any references to historical events or people.
  • Develop a sense of the big picture - the history of England and the wider world. Where are the gaps in your knowledge?
  • Think critically about how politicians and journalists use evidence to support their arguments (especially in a ‘post-truth’ world!)

We recognise that you have busy lives and that this level of engagement is not always possible all the time - but this is what you should aim for if you want to reach the highest level in the subject. You don’t need to do ALL of these things to improve in History - just doing one or two of them will have an impact. Decide on two or three to focus on to improve your skills.