History Resource Cupboard – lessons and resources for schools

History Resource Cupboard - lessons and resources for schools

Teaching Issues

What 2016 History GCSE offers the best approach to assessment?

What 2016 History GCSE offers the best approach to assessment? We offer you a simple comparison tool.

You may well have already decided what you think the best course is for you and for your students. I have blogged about this before. But, just to remind you,  I think you need to make your decision by looking at things from a number of angles:

  1. What constitutes the best history curriculum?
  2. What content do you think your students will like the look of?
  3. What content can you resource already?
  4. How will your choice impact on your workload over the next two years?
  5. What decent resources will be available? Just remember that we are going to provide hundreds of new lesson enquiries for a number of the exam boards so you can you teach your course with confidence. Here is a little more information on this.

When it comes to choosing your new course, the above five are really important things to consider.

Recently I sat down with Neil Bates and we spent some time considering all of the options.  In this conversation he said something that really struck me as hugely important. He said at the end of the day we can work hard to make any topics interesting and engaging. But, if the kids enter the exam hall and they cannot access the questions then we have failed them. I completely agree with him.

This makes the need to closely assess each of the SAMs a vitally important job. This is also  very time consuming. There are hundreds and hundreds of pages of the blessed things. The approach each board is taking differs too.  And, if your working day is anything like mine, then there is very little time for such a task. I can barely fit the planning, marking, data analysis and futile meetings I have to attend. And, I also do want a bit of a work life balance (says me blogging on a Sunday afternoon – Sunday morning was spent marking year 10 assessments/ exams!).

Assessment Objectives

We know that the assessment objectives have changed. Here they are including their weighting:

AO1: demonstrate knowledge and understanding of the key features and characteristics of the period studied. (35%)
AO2: explain and analyse historical events and periods studied using second-order historical concepts. (35%)
AO3: analyse, evaluate and use sources (contemporary to the period) to make substantiated judgements, in the context of historical events studied. (15%)
AO4: analyse, evaluate and make substantiated judgements about interpretations (including how and why interpretations may differ) in the context of historical events studied. (15%)

I have previously discussed AO4 –  each exam board has its particular approach to this. And, for the record, I do not want my students to have to face a 20 or 25 mark question on interpretations if I can avoid it. Particularly a question that asks if an interpretation  is a ‘fair comment’!?!  This might be  ok for really bright students, but for those who struggle with literacy, this is just setting them up for a fall.   Increasingly, more and more students are being persuaded to take history because the E:BACC points in the Progress 8 measure.  This is often students with weaker literacy skills. We need to cater for them and  help all of our students succeed.

How are the exam boards assessing AO1-3?

Help is at hand here. Like the geek that I am, I sat down and went through each boards SAMs and listed the the question. You can use the comparison grid to decide:

  • If it is an old style question (you know the drill: briefly describe, explain how, Do you agree? How useful is this source? Why do the sources agree…)
  • How accessible the question is?
  • Which AO it is assessing? (For the real anoraks like me!)

You can download the tool here.

You just need to remember that some of the specs and SAMs are still awaiting accreditation.

Happy History teaching

Exam question comparison tool

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