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A panel exploring the Secondary Education and Social Change project with Chris Jeppesen and Annie Thwaite (University of Cambridge).

Despite secondary education becoming a near-universal experience for all British 11-year olds after the Second World War, it is striking how rarely this key social transformation is used to engage current school-age pupils when studying post-1945 British history. This paper emerges from an ongoing public engagement initiative undertaken by the ESRC-funded project Secondary Education and Social Change in the UK since 1945 [SESC], which seeks to provide a creative solution to this problem. Over the coming months, SESC will be working with four secondary school history teachers to produce a series of school resource packs based on our research. Recent debates have highlighted a growing concern over the lack of post-Second World War British history taught in secondary schools and stressed the need to break beyond politically oriented narratives of change. These packs focus on how school and educational experience can be used as a lens to explore wider processes of social and cultural change in the UK since the Second World War, whilst also offering teachers and pupils the opportunity to connect local and national histories. The packs contain a rich mix of primary source material, interpretive videos from university-based historians, and lesson plans, which are intended to help pupils develop core subject skills and depth knowledge of the period. Each of the four packs tackles a different theme: ‘Gender & Sexuality’, ‘Class & Social Mobility’, ‘Race & Ethnicity’, and ‘Everyday School Life’. At the end of the project, the resource packs will be made freely available for download through the Historical Association. In this seminar, two members of the SESC team, Annie Thwaite and Chris Jeppesen, will discuss the process, and challenges, of turning their archival research on post-1945 secondary education into classroom-friendly materials. They will consider why the history of mass-secondary education offers such a useful lens to understand Britain’s postwar social and cultural transformations and how it can help connect historical change to contemporary debates. They will also discuss the process of working collaboratively with current teachers and the new opportunities this can offer to both schools and universities.

All welcome- this seminar is free to attend but registration is required.