History Short Course enhances students' academic and social skills
Studying history has helped students to discover their place in the world, says Gareth Davey from Bank View Sixth Form, a post-16 provider for students with complex learning difficulties or autistic spectrum condition.
"We introduced the ASDAN History Short Course two years ago – one reason for this was the subject’s academic merit. At the time the post-16 curriculum was made up of more practical, hands-on courses. It was felt that this programme, while still being accessible to our learners, would provide an opportunity to develop academic skills such as being able to think and write clearly. Studying history as a discreet subject in the sixth form has improved reading and literacy standards – but the cross-curricular benefits have not stopped there.
"We have looked at the history of Liverpool, from its beginnings as a small fishing village to a bustling port welcoming immigrants from all over the world. Students were genuinely interested to hear how Liverpool has been influenced by Chinese, Caribbean, Indian, African, Irish and countless other nationalities and cultures, who brought their own customs and beliefs with them. This was not only valuable in increasing geographical knowledge but also in terms of citizenship. It has helped students to consider how cultural differences are to be celebrated and to see diversity as a positive thing.
"There have been ample opportunities to leave the classroom and visit sites of historical interest, such as the Liverpool docks and many of the city’s museums. This not only brings the subject to life but also gives our students the chance to improve personal independence skills, travel training and road safety skills.
"One of the main components of our sixth form’s ethos is to prepare learners for further education or future employment. Through the History Short Course, students have been able to help deliver RE lessons on the Holocaust to the lower school, which has improved their social skills and confidence, attributes which will serve them well at college or when stepping into the world of work. In addition, preparing and delivering presentations to peers has emphasised the importance of communication skills and body language, providing invaluable experience for college or job interviews.
"The course has been extremely popular with both staff and students alike. Our students enjoy the new skills they are developing and how they can be used in other lessons but more importantly that it helps them “understand TV programmes”. While staff welcome the user-friendly format which makes the Short Course “easy to follow even for non-History specialists”."
We are planning ways to develop the course further, for example by making it an option at Key Stage 4 and eventually broadening our students’ understanding by visiting historical sites further afield, such as the battlefields of France and Belgium.