A History Manifesto – Stuff the levels!

I’d like to say this was my idea but it isn’t. It’s my friend Andy’s idea. But it’s a good one so I thought I would share.

Sat in a pub one dark and dingy night last year Andy and I were sadly discussing the traits of a good historian. The conversation began with one of our geekily favourite questions – “stuff the levels what do you want our kids to know and do?” (ok we used a different word than stuff but you get the idea). After an ale or two we had a long list of content, skills and random things that we passionately believed should be present in our teaching and their learning. In essence we’d made a manifesto for our classrooms. Finally Andy posed a different question “Have you ever told your students this?” and I was stumped as if I’m being honest I don’t think I have.

Why hadn’t I done this? Time constraints? Pressure to cover content? Who knows. Either way that question and it’s obvious answer plagued me. How could my students achieve what I wanted unless I explicitly told them?

At the TeachMeet I organised in May Andy presented his idea and suggested that every teacher should have a manifesto that they explicitly share with their students. His manifesto can be seen on the Bristol Schools History Forum website. There and then I decided I would start the new academic year with my own manifesto.

And that’s what I’ve done this week with all my classes from KS3 to KS5. I told my students what I wanted them to be. My manifesto is below:

KS3 Manifesto


If you can’t work it out I’d like the students to have the following:

  • Passion for history – Pepe
  • See the minute detail – microscope
  • See the bigger picture
  • Weigh up evidence to reach a conclusion
  • See there are different interpretations and views
  • Curiosity – the cats
  • A predominant knowledge of British history but an understanding of how this fits into a wider global history

What the impact of this is I will have to wait and see but I certainly believe it was worth doing. It showed my students why I am passionate about my subject and gave them clear goals to achieve.

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One Response to A History Manifesto – Stuff the levels!

  1. wlowndes says:

    I remember Andy’s presentation and (having never shared my thought with my pupils) was embarassed into action!We are now doing a lesson, after 1/2 term, in all three humanities subjects on the theme of perfect historian (and Geographer and philosopher). It’s a work in progress but I’ll share resources and outcomes when we’re done.

    Wil Lowndes Head of History

    HEATHFIELD COMMUNITY SCHOOL School Road Monkton Heathfield Taunton Somerset TA2 8PD 01823 414251 ________________________________________

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