Ever since the announcement of major curriculum changes back in 2012/13, I have received more and more contacts from teachers via the website. For the most part, these are what I like to call "messages in bottles", quite often fairly substantial missives from people looking for help and guidance relating to some crazy initiative or other being brought into a school. The other common contact is from new Heads of Department looking for some guidance in a school offering little support. It can be a very lonely world out there as a history teacher looking to meet personal, professional goals, whilst also meeting the expectations of school data and tracking systems. The fact that so many people seem to seek help from an ostensibly anonymous source like this one suggests that many of us are probably struggling with similar issues but don't know where to turn. I try to respond to all of these messages in bottles, not always with an answer, but just so people know they are not completely alone in their experiences.
As I typed my most recent response however, I got to thinking that the conversations I have with some of these people might well be of use to others in similar circumstances. I am therefore intending to anonymise and republish some of the conversations I have had on the most common topics of discussion in my new "Messages in Bottles" feature. It is my hope that others might then contribute their own responses in addition to my own advice. In this way I hope we might continue to develop and deepen our professional understanding through joint endeavour. Moreover it chimes with my previous blog that we have to keep talking about "History Club" if we ever want things to really change.
Today's letter is one of the most common I have seen from new HoDs and is one of the most frequent discussions I have with people at conferences and other events. I offer a modified and anonymised version of the contact I received as well as my response. Please feel free to add your own comments or disagree with my advice.