Teaching History in a Neoliberal Age: Policy, Agency and Teacher Voice, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Teaching History in a Neoliberal Age

Policy, Agency and Teacher Voice, 1st Edition

By Mary Woolley


216 pages

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Hardback: 9780367227104
pub: 2019-10-01
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This book explored changing practice in history classrooms from the autonomy of the 1980s through the introduction of GCSEs and the National Curriculum to the prescription of the National Strategies and the pervasive influence of league tables in the first decade of the 21st century. It uses individual narratives from history teachers to shed light on a changing profession.

Showcasing research that is crucial reading for leaders in education, it uses oral accounts from 13 experienced teachers to provide a rich testimony of the constraints and affordances acting on history teachers. The book offers a unique perspective to show how teachers experienced steady but substantial changes in policy and autonomy and how this affected their practice; this detail enhances an analysis of policy and curricular documents across three decades. The findings are crucial for educational settings today, facing crises of teacher recruitment and teacher retention.

This book will be of great interest to academics and higher degree research students in history education, history of education and education policy. It will also be of interest to beginning history teachers and senior school leaders responsible for teacher development and curriculum.

Table of Contents

List of tables


List of abbreviations


Chapter 1 Debating history education

The purposes of history education research

Contemporary debates in history education

History teachers and experiences of teaching history

History of history education

Enacting curriculum and policy

Chapter 2 Exploring Teacher Voice

Methodological considerations

The voice of the teacher

Oral history


Chapter 3 The historical and global context

The broader education context

The changing face of the History National Curriculum

History for 14-19 and the role of external qualifications

Chapter 4 Freedom and choice 1985-90

Early career teaching

The influence of the Schools Council History Project

Approaches to content before the National Curriculum

O-level and CSE examinations

The experience of GCSE History


Chapter 5 Enacting the National Curriculum 1991-2011

Autonomy before the National Curriculum

Enacting the first National Curriculum

Further Programmes of Study 1994-2008

Freeing up the curriculum 2000-2010

Assessment in the National Curriculum

Chapter 6 Enacting policies beyond the National Curriculum 1991-2011

The impact of league tables

A culture of target-setting

The power of examination boards

Experiencing surveillance

The impact of the National Strategies

Chapter 7 Collaboration, Textbooks and Technology 1985-2011


Working with others

Chapter 8 Conclusions

A shift in the nature of history teaching

Teacher agency in an age of prescription

Agents of change

About the Author

Mary Woolley is Programme Director for the Education Studies BA programme at Canterbury Christ Church University.

About the Series

Routledge Research in Education Policy and Politics

The Routledge Research in Education Policy and Politics series aims to enhance our understanding of key challenges and facilitate on-going academic debate within the influential and growing field of Education Policy and Politics.

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