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ETMH Project: A Sense of Direction

I’m starting with a question:

Can we develop schemes of work and resources for KS3 which:

a) provide a more representative and respectful coverage of the Middle Ages

b) result in students gaining more accurate and deeper knowledge of the period, including a stronger sense of the chronological outline

Such schemes of work and resources have to be varied, taking into account the very different amounts of time teachers spend on the Middle Ages.

My hypothesis is that this should be achievable but may well require a move away from the decades-old approach of ‘start in 1066 and keep going, event by event, til you bump into the Tudors’.  There are two problems with this events-driven approach. Firstly, two-year KS3 courses and other changes have cut teaching time considerably so that the chronological coverage has become more and more episodic and disjointed in many schools. Secondly, a course focussed almost entirely on events wars, rebellions and plague supports the negative and erroneous preconceptions that students have of the period and its people.


The project began with the HA publication Exploring and Teaching Medieval History, which identified issues to be explored across the next several years. The plan is now to follow up the HA publication through this approximate agenda:

1. Publish discussion articles exploring contextual ideas and issues, necessary precursors to the development of resources.

2.  Publish the results of Jason Todd’s research into students’ preconceptions of the period and its people. This research will underpin the resources and schemes of work to be developed.

3. Develop resources which help students understand aspects of contemporary feelings and thinking and which challenge students’ assumptions about those feelings and thoughts.

4. Develop model schemes of work, taking into account the differing amounts of time teachers have available. This will include exploring alternative ways of building students’ chronological knowledge.

5. Develop further resources to enable schemes of work to be implemented.
Whether this also leads to questions about the nature of the coverage of the Middle Ages at GCSE and A level will be seen as the project develops.

All the material will be published on here on and will be free of charge.


This is not a funded project and there’s no team of people involved – it’s simply my own exploration of an issue I’ve been interested in for years but haven’t had time to work on until now. I don’t have a rigid schedule but do have an outline plan with generous deadlines, a guide so I can chart progress, not a set of promises to others. I reserve the right to wander off down byways as I bump into interesting books or the work of historians I haven’t read before! This project will only work if I approach it in a relaxed and exploratory way.
Whether it does work, of course, remains to be seen but I’m enjoying the inventiveness and creativity - and reading lots of medieval history.

Ian Dawson

August 2018


Constructive feedback is always welcome, particularly anything that will help other teachers.

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Exploring & Teaching Medieval History

Download it from the HA website HERE …

And see the contents pages HERE …