History Resource Cupboard – lessons and resources for schools

History Resource Cupboard - lessons and resources for schools

Is Simon Schama correct about the Battle of Hastings?

Battle of HastingsIs Simon Schama correct? At Hastings was ‘one kind of England annihilated and another set up in its place’?

This outstanding, active and engaging enquiry gets to the heart of why so many of history departments choose to teach the Battle of Hastings.  Not just because it is a great story, or that it makes a good causation essay, but because it was really significant event in English history.

Here the pupils take on a real TV historian’s interpretation and then, after arming themselves with new knowledge, question and challenge the historians view.  Sloppy work Mr Schama, less sweeping statements for dramatic effect.  Surely you must do better!

If we want our children to understand the past we need to help them grapple with the reasons why we teach certain topics or events. We want them to decide what makes an event significant and to understand that this judgement of significance is in itself an interpretation.

This short enquiry, aimed at Year 7 is designed to help you do all of this. The class is introduced to real historian’s view of Hastings, taken from a famous TV series. They then gain new knowledge about the consequences of the Norman invasion and begin to pull apart the historian’s interpretation.  After being introduced to some characters from the time the class then see complexities of the argument. High level thinking for all!

We have just added a mark-scheme that you could use to assess how well the kids respond to Schama. Download it here for free.

Huge thanks goes to Richard Harris who first described the basis for this lesson in his article ‘Making history meaningful: helping pupils to see why history matters. Teaching History’, 125, 28-36. This was the inspiration for the introduction of Simon Schama and the characters and the completed enquiry.


Lesson includes:

  1. Is Simon Schama Right? Presentation (PowerPoint)
  2. Is Simon Schama Right? Enquiry Write-up (PDF)
  3. Resource 1  (PDF)
  4. Resource 2 – Character Descriptions (PDF)
  5. Assessment banded mark-scheme (PDF)

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