logo PGCE History at UEA
Learning to Teach History in the Secondary School


PGCE History Home
Student Teacher
Exam Classes
Class management
Inclusion and Diversity

Teaching Historical Significance

This is a comparatively new aspect of school history, at least in terms of being explicitly mentioned in curriculum specifications (in the 1995 revision of the original National Curriculum for history, now one of the 6 'key concepts' of the National Curriculum for history). As the book is at pains to point out, it is important that pupils have an understanding of why it is helpful to them to study aspects of the past, so history teachers should address issues of historical significance, and the importance/relevance/implications of particular aspect of the past, explicitly.Two other helpful publications are Martin Hunt's chapter, 'Teaching Historical Significance', in J. Arthur, and R. Phillips, (eds) Issues in History Teaching, London, Routledge (2000), and a brief section in Lomas, T. (1989) Teaching and assessing historical understanding, London, Historical Association.One of the most recent contributions to the teaching of significance in terms of book chapters is Andrew Wrenn's chapter in Ian Davies' book (2011), Debates in history teaching, London, Routledge (148-158). If you are a member of the Historical Association, you can get access to 12 recent articles focusing on historical significance on one of their 'Web Trails'. The URL for this collection of resources is at http://www.history.org.uk/resources/secondary_resource_2474_61.html

Given word length constraints, it was not possible to incorporate all Martin's work on significance, so the following sections, provide a bit more development of some of the ways in which significance might be addressed.

Some criteria for determining significance

Examples of 'significance' questions

Some ideas for 'significance' activities

Back to History PGCE

logo University of East Anglia Norwich NR4 7TJ UK
Telephone: (+44) (0) 1603 456161
Fax: (+44) (0) 1603 458553