About the project

The History in Education Project, based in the Institute of Historical Research, was funded by the Linbury Trust and led by Professor Sir David Cannadine. Two academic research fellows, Dr Jenny Keating and Dr Nicola Sheldon worked on the Project from Jan. 2009 until March 2011, collecting materials to create a 'history of school history' from 1900 until the present day. 


Lavender Hill School 1925 or 1926, courtesy of John Geddes

The Project was designed to provide insight not only into the major curricular changes in history over the previous century, but the changing experience of history at the chalkface in English state schools. Jenny and Nicola have recorded a podcast in which they discuss how they planned and carried out the Project. To listen to it click here.The outcomes of the Project have been collected together on this website to support the continuing interest in the teaching of history in schools, not only amongst researchers, but also within the media and general public at large.

The Project generated a wide range of new resources and benefited from a large network of interested people who supported and contributed to its outcomes. Jenny and Nicola initiated a detailed survey of people's experience of history in the classroom, which drew in responses from 205 former pupils and 136 former or current teachers. Our respondents came from all over the country and their ages ranged from 19 to 91. Summaries of their evidence are available here. Several respondents offered us their old school work to photograph. Examples of the history school work we received, from the 1930s to the early 2000s, can be found here.

The centrepiece of the Project was the oral history archive. Jenny and Nicola interviewed 68 people, including former secretaries of state, school inspectors past and present, teacher trainers, former members of the History Working Group which devised the first National Curriculum and textbook writers, as well as ordinary teachers both current and retired and former pupils. The recorded interviews can be found on their own area of the site together with the transcripts which can be searched and downloaded.

Jenny and Nicola produced background papers on various topics to set the changes in history teaching in context. During the course of the Project, they also presented the initial findings at several conferences - the papers and presentations can be found here. They each wrote self-contained chapters summarising the 'history of school history', which you can find here. Additional data on history examinations and syllabuses compiled for the Project are available here.

The final outcome of the Project is a book, The Right Kind of History (Palgrave Macmillan, 2011) co-authored by Professor David Cannadine, Jenny Keating and Nicola Sheldon. Professor Cannadine discusses some of the issues raised in the book in an interview for the Historical Association. To listen to this, click here.

This website has been created to enable all those interested in history in schools to access the materials generated by the Project. The state of school history in England continues to be a vibrant and fiercely-argued topic of debate, not only amongst academics and researchers, but also in the media and amongst the wider public. It is hoped that the website will assist the debate by providing sound historical evidence and well-informed reflections on the issues.



Jenny Keating and Nicola Sheldon