Teacher Profile

Dr Elisabeth Pickles

History & Politics

I have 38 years’ experience teaching in a secondary school and subsequently well over 500 hours’ experience in online tutoring. In addition to teaching History throughout the secondary school age range and Politics at A-Level, I have had a number of pastoral roles which have involved supporting a wide range of individuals in overcoming challenges to their learning, and motivating them to succeed. Throughout my teaching career I have been keen to encourage students to reflect on their thinking and adopt an active approach to their learning. My experience suggests that progress is often considerably enhanced by encouraging students to evaluate their approaches and giving them support in developing key conceptual understandings.

In addition to both a BA in Modern History and a PGCE in Education from the University of Oxford, I also completed, whilst teaching, an MA in Curriculum Development (with Distinction) from Canterbury Christ Church University and a PhD in History Education from the Institute of Education, University of London. My research for both involved analysing young people’s thinking and ways in which it develops, leading to insights into how they can be supported more effectively to make progress. I have published a range of articles relating to history education and assessment. My PhD research suggested that education in historical methods relating to the use of sources can encourage students to reflect on their preconceptions and reach deeper understandings of the perspectives of individuals in the past, including religious ones.

I have also worked as an examiner for GCSE, AS and A-Level history and been employed by an exam board in development work. In 2014, I was appointed an external subject specialist by Ofqual, the organisation that regulates assessment in England.

I sadly felt compelled to resign from my post in a school in 2021 as a result of procedures being introduced which I felt incompatible with Christian principles. During my last years of teaching in school I was also increasingly concerned about the largely unquestioning acceptance of secularist assumptions in many aspects of the educational experience of young people, including what they were accessing outside the classroom. I am very committed to an education which encourages students to think critically about the prevailing influences in society and develops a sound understanding of Christian values and perspectives.

The study of history enables students to enhance their understanding of the world in which they live, through both considering developments over long timespans and in-depth studies of formative periods. It gives insights into the diversity of human experiences and encourages students to understand the varied perspectives of different societies and of individuals within those societies. Moreover, both GCSE and A-Level specifications require students to engage critically with primary sources and with subsequent historical interpretations of events and developments. Students are therefore encouraged to develop an understanding of why accounts differ and to analyse and evaluate them, considering the degrees of certainty which can be attached to different claims about the past. In constructing answers to essay questions, students learn to plan their arguments in a coherent manner with careful attention to the ways in which they use evidence to substantiate their conclusions.

A study of history is important in understanding the importance of Christianity in shaping many aspects of the modern world. It also shows the challenges and perplexities that have faced Christians in the past, sometimes in ways not dissimilar from those experienced today. It also reveals how their faith has inspired many to contribute significantly to society and to stand firm in the face of persecution.

 

I offer the following PX Classroom courses:

Key Stage 3 History

Broadly in line with the English National Curriculum, which involves an overview of British history from c.1000 to the present day, together with the study of some wider events such as the European Reformation, international conflict in the twentieth century and at least one study of a non-European society. I teach this period through two different courses:

      • AD 1000-1600 (1-year course; not a prerequisite for the other course)
      • AD 1600 to the present (1-year course; provides the basis for GCSE History)

GCSE History

This includes the following elements: the study of a theme over time (e.g. the History of Medicine and Public Health, c.1000 to the present day to consider patterns of change, the reasons for them and their impacts); a pre-modern depth study (e.g. Elizabethan England, a formative period in religious, cultural, political, and economic aspects of British history as well as in the country’s international position); a modern world study (e.g. the Cold War, 1943-91 to understand some of the key developments that have influenced recent international affairs); and a modern in-depth study of a country which has had a significant influence in the last 100 years (e.g. Russia/USSR, USA, China, or Germany depending on the interests of the students taking the course).

AS-Level & A-Level History

The Cambridge International AS- and A-Level History covers aspects of British, European, and World History since 1750.

A-Level Politics

A study of the UK and US political systems and a critical study of the political ideologies of liberalism, conservatism, socialism, and nationalism.