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Secondary: History

Who is this course for?

There is no one model of trainee teacher at Inspiration Teacher Training. Our teachers come from a wide variety of backgrounds: some will come straight from their undergraduate degree, having known for years that teaching history is what they want to do; others will have already experienced the education sector and want to train as history teachers; others will come from the world of work who want to pursue a new career; others from postgraduate level study. Wherever they come from, they have something in common: a passion for history and a desire to pass on that passion to pupils. 

The course is designed to be intellectually stimulating, intense, challenging, and rewarding at every stage. At the end of the year, you will enter the profession confident that you have had the best possible training available. Since teaching is both an academic and creative discipline, the course aims to get the balance just right; whilst being academically rigorous it is also extremely practical.

What distinguishes us from other courses and roads into the profession is our community of subject mentors. For each trainee teacher, there will be a professional mentor in one of our schools who will have read the same journal articles, academic essays, and books as the trainee teacher. This ensures that what is learned and discussed in the seminar room is directly transferable to school the next day. Our trainee teachers know that their subject mentors are as up to date with the latest research as their subject lecturer, ensuring a strong link between the theoretical and practical.

We ensure that when you have qualified you will continue your career as part of much wider subject community, connected to professionals across the country. Our course will feature visitors who are in the forefront of history teaching today, helping our trainee teachers see beyond their classroom to become the future leaders of the teaching profession.

The rigour of our course, both in the seminar room and in school, is what makes it so distinctive.

What sort of topics and subjects will I explore?

Building a secure knowledge-based curriculum

It matters what pupils learn and it matters if pupils can remember what they learn. For example, if a student is given an article about Alexander the Great, and there is a reference to the importance of the Greco-Persian Wars that they discussed the previous term, then the pupils should know what is being discussed and why it is relevant. Why might a Year 10 pupil choose to use the word ‘imperial’ or ‘republican’ to describe a certain style of leadership? They use it because you have taught it to them explicitly in Years 7 and 8 and 9 and they have practised using it in many different contexts until they understand the word. Studies show it is the disadvantaged pupil who most benefits from a knowledge-based curriculum.


Layers of knowledge provide frameworks for pupils to navigate their way around the past, construct arguments, and pose good questions. We will help you consider how pupils’ memory works, understand how to make better use of their memory, and secure their chronological understanding.

Conceptual underpinning of the discipline

History as a discipline asks certain types of questions, framed in conceptual ways that we might call second-order concepts. These include causation, change and continuity, and diversity. The course considers in detail how these conceptual underpinnings operate and how the teacher might help pupils ask and answer such questions.

Essay writing

The course focuses on developing pupils’ literacy and language to ensure they present their ideas cogently and succinctly to produce clearly argued, well-structured extended writing. You will be expected to ensure that not only the most able but also the lower-attaining pupils can  be supported in specific ways to write extended analytical arguments.


Responsive teaching means planning carefully what pupils will learn, how they will learn it, and how the teacher will assess that pupils have learned it. This course places great emphasis on how the teacher will use regular formative assessment to diagnose those very specific pupil needs in order to help the pupil make progress. We deliberately ensure our trainee teachers decouple formative from summative assessment, encouraging a mixed constitution of assessment while ensuring what we choose to assess is meaningful.

Direct instruction

Studies show that ‘direct instruction’ is effective in teaching pupils. The teacher deliberately teaches the pupils rather than leaving it up to them to discover the answer. Pupils only progress to the next level when they have mastered the previous one. There is a strong connection between learning to play a musical instrument and getting better at history: you practise a lot to make sure you have understood what you have been learning. We will ensure there is a constant dialogue between the teacher and pupils in the form of questions and answers, so that pupils do not switch off and the teacher knows if they are being understood.

Interpretations of the past

Pupils need to learn that the past is not something written down and handed down to successive generations in one mighty tome. The original 1991 national curriculum included ‘interpretations of history’ and it continues to feature prominently in the current curriculum. Your pupils need to understand how and why the past has been remembered differently in order to develop thoughtful conversations about how we in the present understand the past.

How will I learn to teach history well?

By reading and by doing. Most of our course is spent in schools, although not necessarily spent teaching pupils. Your in-school training programme will be highly personalised and will often vary from week to week; more time allocated one week for reading and reflecting and in another week for more teaching. You will have regular discussions with your mentor about how your reading in the seminar can help you think about how you will teach in the classroom.

You will be expected to experiment and innovate in the classroom. This will require careful thought and preparation, connecting what has been discussed in the seminars to the needs of the pupils in your classes. Your mentor will support you, advising you on additional reading and providing time for you to reflect upon and analyse the effectiveness of your practice.

History teachers never work in isolation but build upon the work of others and then contribute to that wider discussion among the profession. You will ensure that your reading of history remains up-to-date so you can join a profession that continues to reads widely. We have strong links with other institutions and national history conferences and you will be encouraged to think beyond what you have experienced in the seminar room and with your mentor in school. Indeed, the course co-ordinators, mentors, and course director also contribute to the larger discourse in the history community. You will be expected to join that wider conversation.

How much funding will I get?

Trainees will be eligible for a bursary of £9,000 to help fund the course. You can find more information about funding and bursaries on the UCAS website and Get Into Teaching.

You may be able to apply for a student loan to help pay your tuition fee or living costs - please visit for further information.