Schools and Curriculums

Our staff, from undergraduate to professorial level, partake in outreach activity designed to engage new and diverse audiences with history.

If you are from a school, college, museum or gallery and are interested in working with UCL History academics, contact our Communications Manager, Izzie Harvey.

students in a room on tables learning
Supporting LGBT+ and Queer Histories in Secondary Schools

Rebecca Jennings (UCL History) and Bob Mills (History of Art) lead this knowledge exchange project that aims to promote the inclusion of LGBTQ+ young people in secondary schools by facilitating teaching of LGBT+ and queer topics as part of the wider history curriculum. Research shows that seeing themselves represented in the curriculum will not only enhance LGBTQ+ students’ self-esteem, but it will also enable all students to gain a greater understanding of the diversity of human gender and sexuality in the past and present.

Between February and June 2023, a series of workshops were held with secondary school history teachers and academics, aimed at identifying the current obstacles to incorporating LGBT+ and queer histories into the year-round history curriculum and understanding what resources and other practical assistance teachers need to support their delivery of these histories to KS3 and 4 pupils.

Building on these inspiring and productive discussions, a small group of volunteer teachers and academics worked in July and August 2023 to produce some sample teaching materials for trial by teachers.  These were launched at an online event on Wednesday 18 October and are available to download from the project website. This project is run in collaboration with the UCL History of Art Department

Powerpoint slide called Understanding Medieval Mentalities with a medieval image
Medieval Mentalities

On 19 September 2023, Emily Corran delivered a talk on 'Medieval Mentalities' to Westminster Academy. The school host a series called 'Dare to Know' in which they invite a different academic each week to deliver a talk.

Emily's talk acknowledged the negative prejudices associated with medieval history: people often think that the middle ages were a period of brutality, irrationality and superstition. Yet, many of these stereotypes are either completely false or only partially true. Using examples from her research, Emily showed how medieval thought was in some ways very similar to our own, and in some ways different. For example, when considering practical dilemmas that arise in daily life, like whether to break a promise to keep a secret, whether to tell a lie in a difficult situation and whether to allow a wife to act against her husband’s permission, the social values revealed in the medieval discussion are very different from our own. Nevertheless, the way that medieval authors reasoned through these problems and tried to find a pragmatic solution can seem surprisingly modern and relatable. 

UCL Summer School students enjoy final send-off event. Credit: UCL Access and Widening Participation.

Year 12 Sutton Trust Summer Schoools for Widening Participation

Each year UCL History joins the UCL Year 12 Summer School initiative offering students the chance to live as a student in overnight accommodation, attending lectures, seminars, socials and trips across London. 

'The ‘Making History’ UCL Summer School draws on the unparalleled historical resources available from institutions close to UCL’s central London campus. For a week you’ll leave the classroom and step into the shoes of a real historian. Exploring museums and archives such as the British Museum, we’ll introduce you to exciting historical sources not seen at school, as well as new historical approaches currently being used reconstruct the past, such as the role of places, spaces and objects. You’ll hear stimulating lectures from experts on a variety of historical topics and get involved in cutting-edge debates. Working closely with some of our finest historians, we’ll help you use the skills you have learned to research a historical artefact of your choice and present your findings. Prepare to make history!'

Active Online Reading Project

Jon ChandlerJamie Wood (University of Lincoln) and Anna Rich-Abad (University of Nottingham) lead a project seeking to explore how we can enhance students’ active online reading practice across the sector. This project seeks to investigate current practice around close reading and resource engagement in an online setting. It will produce guidance, briefing, and supporting documentation to develop academic and student practice in this area.

UCL Undergraduates Teach History in Secondary School

Saul and the Witch of Endor (about 1400–1410)

In March 2023, Jon Chandler (UCL History) and Catherine McCrory (UCL IOE) partnered with UCL Academy to provide an opportunity for sixteen undergraduates to plan and teach a lesson for Year 7s. The undergraduates were all students in the module Teaching History, which introduces the frameworks used by secondary school history teachers for planning, teaching and evaluating historical learning.

The module began with theoretical discussions of how teachers structure their pupils’ learning about sources and the use of evidence, causation, change and continuity, diversity, historical significance and interpretations. In groups of four, the students were tasked with planning a lesson for Year 7s on late medieval witchcraft. Prof. Sophie Page provided a subject knowledge seminar to introduce our students to different aspects of the topic. Over four weeks, our students designed four lessons exploring the subject through primary sources. After a practice run in which our students taught the lesson to their peers, we arrived at UCL Academy ready to teach. Pupils in different lessons used primary sources to find out how witchfinders detected witches, roleplay life in a medieval village, re-enact a witchcraft trial, and decide whether people really believed in witches.

The experience revealed to our students how teaching could be both challenging and rewarding. The Year 7s at UCL Academy thoroughly enjoyed the lessons and the opportunity to interact with their peers at “big” UCL. We will certainly be back!

Artificial Intelligence Expert Group

Jon Chandler is part of an expert group working to provide practical solutions and guidance following the emergence of AI in education and assessment.

Migration and the American War of Independence

Jon Chandler has contributed a GCSE History revision lecture on the American War of Independence for MASSOLIT which will be published shortly.

Dr Emily Ward delivers school workshops for collaborative ‘Marie In The Margins’ project

Marie in the Margins

This outreach project was a collaboration between ExploreTheArch Theatre Company, primary schools, Hastings Museum & Art Gallery, historians and other local heritage sites to provide a series of educational workshops in and around the Hastings area.

The workshops for children ran in May 2022 and took inspiration from Britain's earliest known female author of ‘lai’ adventure stories. Marie de France’s tales are a window into a hidden history of working women and youth culture in the hundred years after the Norman Conquest of 1066. Marie's colourful heroes include marginalised young adults seeking a life that is meaningful. As the medieval characters seek to be true to themselves they raise themes and topics which resonate with modern-day society, including bullying, homophobia, gender fluidity, female decision-making and women as writers.

Picture produced by student in project; credit to Anastasia Grujic.

Teaching Empire and War

Together with Diya Gupta (King's College London), Anna Maguire (UCL History) developed an online learning resource to support the inclusion of empire in lessons about the First and Second World Wars. In 2021, they published an article about this work in History Workshop Journal. Anna continues to give talks and run sessions using this material in schools in and around London. 

End of History Musical poster

End of History: The Musical

Jon Chandler appears as multi-talented historical advisor and saxophonist(!) in the musical, End of History (written by a teacher as a revision guide for GCSE History).

The show is about a group of teenagers attempting to get to grips with puberty – and the events of the 20th century. From the Treaty of Versailles to the fall of the Berlin Wall, via Munich and mocks, Potsdam and parties, Cuba and crushes, is their future any more certain than the past? And might the ‘end’ of history be the beginning of something else? From 1920s’ French jazz to 1980s’ rock, via swing, bebop and rock n’ roll, this is a musical for the 21st century that will appeal to anyone interested in the 20th century.