Collaborative History Education: Roundtable Reflections on PGCE Enrichment Placement, by Charlotte Crouch

This summer, many of the postgraduate members of the Gender Research Cluster took part in one of the PGCE Enrichment placements run by the Institute of Education here at Reading. In its third year running, the placement connects postgraduate researchers in the History Department with History PGCE students at the Institute of Education here at Reading. The aim of the placement is to facilitate open exchanges of knowledge and expertise, challenge privileged hierarchies of knowledge, and improve the teaching practices of all participants.

Over the coming week, we will use this blog as a forum to discuss some of the placement’s outcomes and feedback from some of the participants. 

Run by William Bailey-Watson, subject lead of the History PGCE at the Institute of Education and Charlotte Crouch (I’ve recently completed my doctorate with the History Department), the placement invites postgraduate researchers and PGCE trainees to work together to access cutting edge research and up-to-date pedagogical knowledge. In its first year, emphasis was placed on the PhD students’ research and how this knowledge might be used in the classroom. Whilst this remains an important element, the placement has evolved over the past three years to facilitate meaningful exchanges between all participants as educators, both respecting one another’s expertise and learning how to develop all participants’ teaching practices. 

Each postgraduate researcher hosted their own morning session, which was followed by a collaborative afternoon discussion. Our researchers all used their morning sessions differently; some key themes included myth busting their particular areas of research, drawing attention to stories they thought important to share, and unpicking particular methodologies, types of sources or historiography. The collaborative afternoon sessions were both ambitious and practical, covering the particular opportunities or barriers to using each researcher’s work in schools, university and more widely in the history community. The trainees offered advice around how the researchers could approach teaching in seminars and where their research could fit within school history, whether that be an entire scheme of work, drawing from anecdotes to give a greater sense of period or understanding historians’ methodologies. There were also many exciting conversations about how all participants could continue to work together and collaborate after the placement.

This year had a different feel for several reasons. The main change was moving the entire placement online. Whilst this process had its challenges, it also brought many extra opportunities. We were able to invite external speakers to share their own experiences of collaborating with schools and universities. Jason Todd (University of Oxford) and Arthur Chapman (UCL) kindly acted as expert sounding boards when we were fine tuning our aims and suggesting shared reading and activities. [1] David Hibbert gave an insightful talk about the challenges and benefits of using historians’ work in the classroom and joined Claire Kennan in a Q and A about collaboration outside of the academy. Arthur Burns and Ben Walsh were also able to join us and take part in some of the discussions. We were able to introduce the placement with all participants together and discuss shared reading in breakout groups. 

Over this coming week, we will share the results of our participants’ collaborative discussions, their feelings on the importance of these exchanges, and why they were particularly relevant this year. 

Here are the researchers and teachers who took part in this placement: 

Alistair Ward, History Teacher, former History PGCE Student

Amie Bolissian-McRae, PhD Student

Amy Gower, PhD Student

Beth Rebisz, PhD Student 

Becca Grose, PhD Student

Charli Burns, History Teacher, former History PGCE Student

Josh Dixon, History Teacher, former History PGCE Student

Judith Sotes, History Teacher, former History PGCE Student

Katie Phillips, Early Career Researcher

Liz Barnes, Early Career Researcher

Robyn Sampson, History Teacher, former History PGCE Student

Sophie Springer, History Teacher, former History PGCE Student

Tom Collins, History Teacher, former History PGCE Student


Each day, we will share some of their responses to each of the following questions:

Tuesday: What were the key issues raised in your discussions? 

Wednesday: How will the discussions you had during the placement inform your approach to teaching in the future?

Thursday: How do you hope to benefit in future from the collaborative relationships established during the placement? Do you think the placement was a good forum for discussions about improving how gender history is represented in our teaching practices?

Friday: Reflections from Will and Charlotte

Please do continue these conversations on Twitter, using #Rdgcollab2020


[1] As recommended by Jason Todd and Arthur Chapman, participants all read and discussed the following: R Samuel (1996), Theatres of Memory: Past and Present in Contemporary Culture, ch. 1; P Seixas (1993), ‘The Community of Inquiry as a Basis for Knowledge and Learning: The Case of History’, American Educational Research Journal

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