September is here, summer has nearly gone (did it ever really arrive?) and it’s back to school. Planning and preparation is in full swing and with new A Levels coming on board, there is a lot of extra planning.
So how can I help? Well, as the History Tours Development Manager, I’ve spent the summer creating a matrix matching up the A Level choices (and the proposed GCSEs) with tour destinations and their sites. It has been a sort of travel by proxy – but I hope you will think it has been worth it. It means that if you’re toying with the idea of taking a trip and need some thoughts on how it meets the needs of current students, then the dedicated Educational Tours team and I can help.
I’ve been looking at how to get the best out of destinations for a variety of outcomes, spending some time drawing out some of the themes that are highlighted in curriculums, such as technology and war, women and history and post-war Europe. There’s also Breadth Studies which mean some locations need to address history over periods of time. However, a tour still needs to make sense, not be a group of sites in one place, but that jump around with the narrative.
Being investigated are medieval battlefields that are close to more popular battlefield sites. A trip to Agincourt or Crecy, both near the Somme battlefields, would explore the history of warfare over time. It’s interesting to see how so many sites in European history of conflict are close to one another. In only a few days a tour could travel from the fifteenth century through to the twentieth century and two world wars.
Popular choices for study and interest last year have been cities in the USA – so I have been matching up the relevant themes of American history with sites and museums in places such as New York, Washington and Boston.
I have had a renewed look at some of the German cities for the Cold War history and how to use those sites to explore history over time. I’ve also taken a fresh look at Normandy for studies of the Second World War and Dunkirk to combine with a First World War tour. Last year we introduced Waterloo as a destination which has lots of potential for a one day tour or a couple of days, depending on interest.
For Key Stage 3 and above I’ve been looking at how a tour can bring out a greater understanding of chronology, even if it looks like the geography or the area should suggest something different.
Overall it has been a summer of exploration, examination and planning, and I’ve been sharing my findings with the Rayburn team and History Guides. If you’re looking for help with an idea around a tour – we’re your people. Bringing history to life for people is something I really enjoy and a tour can do that in so many ways.
Never fear, there’s still time to plan a tour for this term and academic year. Remember, if you’re struggling with a new curriculum or exam syllabus, then getting out, seeing somewhere new (with a class of 30 teenagers) and discussing the history on the very ground where it happened might just be the solution.