History Resource Cupboard – lessons and resources for schools

History Resource Cupboard - lessons and resources for schools

Teaching Issues

How do we decide what to teach in a curriculum: a blast from the past

Light bulb moments

So there seems to be some blather recently around the question: how do we decide what to teach in a curriculum?


This has inevitably be fuelled by talk of Ofsted changing its inspection framework over the coming months to focusing more on the quality of the curriculum and less on passing the test. Thank the Lord – you know our views on teaching year 7s to answer GCSE exam questions.

All of this got me thinking about curriculum design. We have blogged about this before and still stand by this to this day.

However, I then vaguely remembered working on this what I thought was a few years back. When I looked on my hard-drive, I realised that it wasn’t a few years ago, it was actually 14 years back.

Thinking about the history curriculum

Light bulb momentsUnder the guidance of Neil Thompson and working alongside Simon Harrison and a handful of Hampshire History teachers, we spent three twilight sessions planning innovative and creative history curricula.

Importantly, Neil primed the pump and gave us the brief with a few ideas of the different types of curriculum we could develop. These included ‘Revolutions’, ‘Developing chronological frameworks’ and ‘conceptual history.’

We then worked up our own models in our spare time and shared them with each other for ‘critiquing’ at the subsequent twilight sessions.  Then, after further polishing, the curriculum models were shared with Hampshire Heads of History via our newsletter. They were also presented at the annual Heads of History Conference.


Importantly you can download the models at the bottom of this blog if you want to look at the type of thinking we came up with, in 2004. They are not the finished article or meant to be the ‘right’ answer. They are just examples of history teachers working on curriculum planning. Each one has its own rationale. You just need to register as a basic member to access the materials.

They may just help get you started in 2018?


I would really like to thank Neil Thompson for getting us thinking about this 14 years ago, and Simon Harrison for allowing me to publish his Empire Model.

The rest of this content is for members only. Please Register or login.



follow us in feedly

About the author
Richard McFahn
Founder of History Resource Cupboard, Richard has worked for 20 years as a history teacher, subject and senior leader, Advanced Skills Teacher, local authority adviser and history ITE tutor.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

History Resource Cupboard


Receive details of our latest courses, new lesson downloads, exclusive discounts and the latest articles with ideas to help you enliven your classroom teaching.