How we use Hindsight Magazine to teach GCSE History effectively

St Christopher's School

Head of History, St Christopher’s School, Bahrain

“We use Hindsight with GCSE students, especially our higher-ability students.”

“I teach at an international co-educational school. We teach the UK GCSE curriculum, A-level and International Baccalaureate. It’s diverse, with students from across the world. 

We have textbooks to give the explanation or description of events, which is essential for History. We find the Hodder magazines have shorter articles, but they’re highly focused and bespoke on specific strands of the curriculum. We use Hindsight with GCSE students, especially our higher-ability students. 

We set our core homework, which is often to answer an exam question. Then we set something based around a Hindsight article as our ‘stretch and challenge’ homework, and we find that the students like it because it’s time-bound. The difficulty with a big textbook is you need to sift through it, but with the history magazines, the articles are really short, they’re two to four pages long at the most and punctuated with pictures. Human beings don’t like blocks of text, so the pictures are good for breaking all that up. They’re there to make what’s in the text more of an appealing prospect.

If we’re going through an article, especially at GCSE level, we’re getting students to digest the information, but also transform it into something else. We need and want them to retain the essence of what the article is saying. One way we do that is to ask them to summarise each paragraph with a diagram in the format of their choice. Another way we utilise it in terms of pedagogy is that we get students to make presentations. I will present what the article is saying from a neutral, balanced standpoint, and we get students to argue for and against. It’s a good way of getting them to access, digest and then transform or convert that learning into something that they can retain and take with them. We’re trying to put it in a retainable format, because when they come to utilise that, they’re going to need something accessible a week before the examination. 

The archive is really useful because it includes the entire back catalogue. I like the way you can search for what you need, and you will find something in there unless you’re looking for something very niche.

We also use the ‘Ask the Examiner’ or the ‘Skills’ section, especially at GCSE. At A-level or IB there may be only four or five different question styles because it’s heavily based on essays, but when it comes to GCSEs, there might be fourteen or fifteen question styles. Some of them are only worth four marks, but if you take a four-mark question, they only give you twelve lines to answer it. 

We are in a luxurious position where our students are so dedicated, if you give them twelve lines, they’re going to write twenty-four. Especially with GCSE, if you overwrite on a four- or an eight-mark question, you’re borrowing time from the sixteen- and twenty-mark questions, which you can’t afford to do. Saving time in exams is the best line of attack, and the articles help with that.”

What resources does this History Teacher use?

Modern History Review Magazine (A-level)
Modern History Review Archive
Hindsight Magazine (GCSE)
Hindsight Archive