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Regional Advisers Recommend…preparation for the new OCR B GCSE

Now we’re all into the maelstrom of teaching the new GCSE, your thoughts might be straying forwards to thinking about how you can prepare for future units whilst at the same time continuing to teach amazing lessons on your current unit. The Regional Advisers are here to help! Here are some accessible and interesting suggestions to help you enrich your knowledge of some aspects of the new OCR B SHP spec.


Whilst planning for the Norman Conquest unit I have been reading lots and lots of Marc Morris’ work. His biography on William I is excellent as you really begin to get to know William and have a few ‘nuggets’ for the classroom as well (really easy to read too). His book The Norman Conquest is also crucial.

If you find yourself really pushed for time but want to extend your knowledge beyond KS3 or the textbook try Marc Morris’ podcast for BBC History magazine and his blog has links to short films about the Conquest, Norman attitudes, use of sources etc from his book. You can also follow Marc on Twitter @Longshanks1307 where he tweets about his latest publications and podcasts.

I am also planning to use the tweets from the English Heritage March 1066 with my students and there is a ‘live’ event with Dan Snow where he answers questions put by different school children about the battle and the consequences of the battle.

Sally Burnham, Regional Adviser for the East Midlands

Even if you have previously taught a Medicine study at GCSE, it is definitely worth looking for some fresh scholarship on the subject. This new People’s Health course is quite different to the old Medicine and it’s important to get the focus right and know the content as well as possible so you can kick on through the unit, in light of the amount of content you will have to cover across the two years. I really enjoyed reading Hubbub, by Emily Cockayne. It’s got some disgusting anecdotes in it that really bring the 18th century alive!

Sally Thorne, Regional Adviser for the South West

I’ve prepared this summary document for students who are studying the Making of America. It summarises each section of the course and includes tasks to help students get a feel for the overview.

You can download the document here.

Alex Ford, Regional Adviser for Yorkshire and Humberside

In preparation for the OCR specification B, I have been watching David Starkey’s Elizabeth documentary. This is a good overview for teachers new to teaching Elizabeth I. It provides contextual information on the key issues surrounding her reign and some of the methods used to handle the . Nice starting point, and perfect for cosy winter viewing.

Nicola Barthorpe, Regional Adviser for the North West

The unit I am most excited about, and the one that I know the least about; Viking Expansion, 750 – c1050. I wanted to ensure that I felt confident about the subject before I even began thinking about planning for this course. Though technically not reading, I have found audiobooks a great way to improve my subject knowledge while planning for the new GCSE course. With a commute of 30 minutes each way, listening in the car has really helped boost my understanding of the period.  A slight downside is occasionally excitedly babbling at colleagues in the history department about some amazing detail I have heard that morning!

I have found particularly useful The Vikings, by Professor Kenneth Harl, which is available through Audible. The series of lectures span a huge amount of content; from the origins of the Scandinavian people would become known as the Vikings, to detailed examinations of the different geographic regions the Vikings influenced. While I had some (at times superficial) knowledge of the Vikings in Northern Europe, the sections examining the Vikings who went East were eye opening!

The series of lectures is also accompanied by a hefty pdf document, with notes to accompany each of the lectures. This could be a very useful resource when putting together revision materials for students. Though not cheap (£32.49) this is a great resource that can be revisited time and time again.

Luke Mayhew, Regional Adviser for the East of England