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SHP Conference in Leeds

John Simkin

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It was good to meet so many members of the forum at the SHP Conference. It was the best I have attended. I of course say that every year but that is just a reflection on how it constantly improves. I would urge every member of this forum to go next year. It is by a long way the best history INSET available to teachers.

As I led two workshops I could only attend three sessions. One session by Don Cumming and Sarah Jaggs was truly revolutionary. They have developed a way of teaching that reflects our modern age. Definitely a session that everybody should attend next year.

Ian Dawson’s session on “Active Learning” was also fantastic (his sessions always are). I got a double dose of Ian as I also attended his hilarious “from the Guillotine to Waterloo” on Saturday night. (Martin Spafford was an excellent Napoleon).

I was also impressed with Alison Kitson’s session on teaching the “big picture”. It was full of good ideas and I found it a very stimulating experience. I also liked Sally Burnham’s presentation to the full conference on Sunday morning.

Unfortunately I was unable to attend sessions that I have heard very good things about. This includes workshops led by Geraint Brown, Simon Harrison, Dan Lyndon, Heather Scott, Dale Baneham, Martin Spafford, Ian Luff, Roy Huggins, Steve Illingworth, Matt Lowe and Tom Rich.

Although informative I found Tina Isaacs presentation very depressing. It made clear that history will come under tremendous pressure over the coming years and is bound to result in less time for students in the history classroom. The current government proposal is bound to fail and it is only a matter of time before another Tomlinson type report is commissioned. I cannot remember a time when we had such an incompetent government administering education. True, Thatcher’s educational policies were worse. However, she knew what she was doing. The present bunch have no idea of how to solve the problems of our educational system. We were told we are 21/24 in Europe concerning our failure to persuade young people to continue their education. Why then do we refuse to learn why countries like Finland have been so successful? Instead we continue with policies that were rightly rejected by our European neighbours many years ago.

In some ways I felt sorry for people like Tina Isaacs, Kate Moorse, Jane Weake and Jerome Freeman trying to defend the indefensible. However, you have to question why they are willing to continue in such an onerous job.

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