I’m pleased to announce that over the past few weeks I have delivered my first archaeology workshops relating directly to the new primary history curriculum – namely “changes in Britain from the Stone Age to the Iron Age” a.k.a. prehistory.
Two of these covered the whole of prehistory – an overview from the Palaeolithic to the end of the Iron Age – one over a whole day, the other over an afternoon. That was some feat I can tell you! Of course, we couldn’t cover everything in detail but I was able to give a good overview using a range of artefacts, including palaeolithic hand axes, microliths, replica grooved ware, Bronze Age beakers and various axe-heads through a variety of activities.
The third focused on the Iron Age and Lindow Man, delivered as it was to Y4s at Alderley Edge School for Girls – a fine example of using local archaeology as a starting point for a topic.
Whilst these schools spanned both the State and Independent sector, as well as different year groups, one thing they did have in common was the fact that the teachers were all trying to get to grips with a subject area unfamiliar to them. This is something that I and others like me are finding all over the country, and which the results of the survey are starting to show – that teacher’s are not feeling as confident as they might about teaching this area of the curriculum and are unsure of where to go to find accessible and reliable information.
Another thing that is gradually revealing itself is the lack of artefacts, real and replica, that are available to be taken into the classroom. I often use Derbyshire Schools Library Service, which is a treasure trove of real and replica artefacts from a multitude of periods yet, for prehistory, they have only three boxes for the whole of the county! They are currently trying very hard to source what they can, but it is not an easy task. It may be time for us to work together with museums, to get into their stores and bring to light some of the material that has been sat there for a while. I don’t mean necessarily so that I can use them for my workshops, but so that teachers can borrow them and use them for teaching. Whilst I appreciate this may cause a bureaucratic nightmare for someone, it is perhaps necessary to ensure that prehistory is taught well and in an engaging manner.
The survey is still open by the way, and more responses are needed – please take part if you have not already done so. It will only take a few minutes of your time!