Oak updates

14 March 2023

History curriculum partner and subject experts

Benjie Groom

Subject Lead - History

Benjie Groom is the History Subject Lead at Oak National Academy. Prior to joining Oak, Benjie taught for ten years in English state schools. During this time he led three history departments and oversaw the history Initial Teacher Training provision for a large School Centred Initial Teacher Training programme.

How our history curriculum is changing

I joined Oak in January 2023, and am excited to be overseeing a new and inspiring chapter of our story, which will enable us to reach and support more teachers than ever before.

Our focus is on lowering workload and supporting teachers to further increase their expertise. Over the coming year and beyond we’ll be creating a new history curriculum and full set of teaching resources. These will all be designed to better support your planning, in-class teaching and help you develop your own curriculum.

We therefore launched a procurement process to find new partners to create our curriculum and opened recruitment for members of an history subject expert group, so that we can utilise and share the very best practice from across the sector.

We are about to embark on a vital new landmark in our journey to reinforce the curriculum offered for classroom teachers up and down the country. We’re here for all teachers: representing the diversity of the sector has been crucial to both building Oak and sustaining support of schools nationally from day one. Our new offer for history teachers will ensure that learning resources are high-quality, ambitious, have longevity and are excellent for classroom use. We know that the education sector is built from a varied group of experts, who cater for equally diverse pupils. As we grow and evolve, we will harness their expertise so that we are here for all teachers. From brilliant schools to subject associations, universities and publishers, the curriculum partners we’re working with to develop new teaching resources across English, science, maths, geography, music and history reflect the range of educational institutions and providers.

Not only are we excited to work with our new partners in regard to the variety they will bring to Oak, we are also excited for the continued choice that we will be able to offer teachers regarding teaching resources to select and adapt. We are one of many teaching resource and curriculum suppliers, and I am delighted that we can improve this offer so that UK teachers have an even better choice of foundation materials to build upon in their classroom.

Curriculum partners

I am particularly proud that our curriculum partners and subject experts capture both the quality and range of experts from across the sector, ensuring excellent and adaptable teaching resources for teachers nationally.

I am proud to announce that we will be collaborating with Pearson and Future Academies in order to develop an improved offer in our history curriculum. I am particularly delighted that Pearson will be working as our curriculum partners for primary history, as they boast long standing expertise in curricular design and have previously developed a primary history curriculum rooted in historical second order concepts and high quality, knowledge rich texts for use with pupils. As one of the world’s leading learning companies, they have considerable curriculum expertise and significant experience in curricular design and delivery.

Furthermore, I am especially pleased that Future Academies Trust will be working as our curriculum partners for secondary history, as they have consistently shown a commitment to rich academic rigour in the curriculums developed at their dedicated Curriculum Centre. Future Academies Trust’s previous curricular work has prioritised coherence, sequencing and the roles of knowledge and vocabulary as powerful drivers of pupil progress, making it incredibly exciting that we are able to work with them to develop our secondary history curriculum.

Subject experts

Working with our new curriculum partner is just the start of the process. To make sure we can meet the wide ranging needs of schools from across the country, we’ve also recruited subject experts to provide independent feedback.

Our subject experts will help to shape every aspect of our new offer, from reviewing our sequence, to providing feedback on sample teaching resources and working with us to keep improving our curriculum.

They include subject specialists and teachers with a rich wealth of classroom experience, ensuring that our teaching materials remain for teachers and by teachers. They will also bring a range of opinions, impartial expertise and valued objective feedback and challenge.

Our curriculum development process will be transparent and open: sharing our thought-process and trajectory, from the partners we are collaborating with to the thinking behind our curriculum choices.

Our subject experts are:

  • Ben Arscott - Inspiration Trust
  • John Blake - Office for Students
  • David Burton - Nonsuch High School for Girls
  • Matthew Flynn - Ryders Hayes School
  • Manjit Harvey-More - Prince Albert High School
  • Jon Hutchinson - Reach Foundation
  • Tim Jenner - Ofsted
  • Meghan Tipping - Heritage and Education Professional
  • Bobbie Young - Harris Federation

Our history curriculum principles

In addition to rigorous testing and collaboration between experts across the UK, we will be building these new teaching resources based on Oak’s overarching curriculum principles, our guiding approach which brings coherence and quality across every subject. But, like in every subject, there are specifics in history too, so our overarching principles are supported with subject specific principles. In Secondary history, this means that:

  • The overall selection and blend of content should match or exceed the ambition of the national curriculum for history, represent the diversity of the past and display responsiveness to evolving historical scholarship.
  • Pupils’ substantive and disciplinary journeys are shaped by rigorously historical enquiry questions, so that they can learn, systematically, to recognise and carry out differing types of historical argument, and so that medium-term analytic and narrative journeys are well-blended.
  • The curriculum incrementally introduces a wide range of interpretations of the past, showing pupils how such interpretations arise and how they are constructed as well as their diverse forms, frameworks, origins and effects in the present.
  • Historical narrative is used to secure coherence and retention, on micro and macro levels: from world-building and hinterland secured by rich stories in individual lessons to seeing possible temporal and spatial relationships between societies, civilisations, trends and contrasts, across time.

One of Oak’s curriculum principles is diversity, and this will be a focus for subject expert groups. In addition, Oak will shortly be launching a process to appoint an organisation who specialises in this field, working across subjects and Oak’s partners to help us deliver breadth and diversity in content, language, texts, media and our teachers.

Our overall curriculum approach

These history-specific principles dovetail with our overall approach to curriculum design, and how we hope teachers can use Oak, as explained by Emma McCrea, our Head of Curriculum Design. You can also find out more about the new partners and subject experts we’re excited to be working with for the other subjects we’re redeveloping first.

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