The History event of the year – HA Annual Conference

May 23, 2016


Mini break in Harrogate

Last Thursday myself (Megan), Jo and Catherine packed our bags, popped on our out of offices, loaded up the car and set off from the Rayburn Tours’ head office in Derby for the picturesque town of Harrogate. No, we weren’t off for a mini break in Yorkshire, but instead making our way to the event of the year for those professionally involved in history and those who simply have a fascination with it – the Historical Association (HA) Annual Conference 2016.

Traffic was on our side and after a slight detour (for which we can only blame the SatNav), we arrived at Harrogate’s stately Majestic Hotel. Built at the height of the spa town’s prosperity in the 19th Century, this impressive Victorian landmark would be our base for the following two days.

Barcelo Harrogate Majestic Hotel

History lovers came from far and wide

Friday morning came around and as the clock struck 9 am the conference got underway. History teachers and all-round history buffs from across the UK came through the doors, keen to learn more about different aspects of history, the latest developments in the curriculum, new ideas and tips to take back to the classroom, as well as simply meeting up with other like-minded history lovers.

Over the weekend, we were delighted to have plenty of people popping over to say ‘hello’ and chat about a planned international trip, from fresh faced NQTs in their first year in teaching looking for a new and exciting way to bring history to life for their students, to enthusiastic retired teachers whose love for the subject was still going strong.

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It was also a pleasure to meet with the HA’s Maheema, who Rayburn Tours worked with earlier in the year on a trip to Agincourt, France as part of the Agincourt600 commemorations.

The changing syllabus

With so many exam boards having a presence at the conference, we took the opportunity to speak with them about the changing syllabus and the importance and impact of this on teachers. It’s fair to say, the exam boards have been working away and teachers were keen to chat with them to gain as much advice as possible.

Our History Tours Development Manager, Paula Kitching, (who also works for the HA) has been busily working through the new GCSE and A Level specifications, ensuring that we match our tours to your area of studying. Our new ‘Tour by Theme’ approach is something we spoke to plenty of interested teachers about as it’s an excellent way to give real context to students’ studies.

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A jam-packed programme

With a jam-packed programme of workshops and talks throughout the weekend, we couldn’t resist popping in on a session or two ourselves. Megan opted for Edward Paice’s keynote speech on the little documented First World War campaigns in eastern Africa, which explored the devastating consequences of Britain and Germany’s actions in East Africa.  Jo also took the opportunity to find out more about ‘Private Lives of the Saints’ by Janina Ramirez. Both sessions we’re highly insightful giving us an eye-opener to two very different aspects of history.

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See you next year!

We very much hope that the 350 passionate attendees took plenty away from the conference and all that’s left to say is we hope to see you next year in Manchester! Pop the dates in the diary – Friday 12th – Saturday 13th May 2017!