Putting the fun back into history lessons

Brune Park Community College history teacher Nicholas Wood won the London and South East region History Teacher of the Year award.     (112098-4)
Brune Park Community College history teacher Nicholas Wood won the London and South East region History Teacher of the Year award. (112098-4)
Dr John Steadman, archivist of Portsmouth History Centre based at Portsmouth Central Library     Picture:  Malcolm Wells

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Nicholas Wood is on top of the world after winning the prestigious title of History Teacher of the Year.

The popular head of history at Brune Park Community College in Gosport has just been named one of the stars of education at the 2011 Pearson Teaching Awards.

He beat competition from thousands of nominees across London and the south east of England after judges visited his school for a sample lesson and interviewed pupils, colleagues and governors.

Mr Wood, 38, says: ‘I feel amazingly privileged. At first I was quite embarrassed about winning, but now I’ve come round to enjoying it.

‘I love my subject and I have fantastic students, so I couldn’t have asked for more.’

The identity of who nominated Mr Wood remains a mystery but he suspects it may have been a parent, as he often receives letters of thanks from delighted mums and dads.

He says: ‘It’s a good feeling to know someone thinks highly enough of you to enter your name into a major competition.

‘When the judges came into school to inspect me they caught me in the middle of a Year Seven history class which went really well.

‘We were debating whether or not Mary I of England deserved to be called “bloody Mary” and the youngsters were giving excellent feedback.

‘It was a good class, but I enjoy teaching all year groups and I keep my style flexible to suit the ages as well as the individuals in the classroom.

‘Role plays, mind maps, giving students ideas to develop and even the traditional chalk and talk approach all feed into my lessons.’

Mr Wood welcomes education secretary Michael Gove’s moves to put history at the heart of the GCSE curriculum by making it one of five core subjects in the new English Baccalaureate award.

He says: ‘I believe everyone should know their history, to have an appreciation of what happened previously regardless of their nationality.

‘History is one of those subjects that gives you skills you can apply to so many areas of life, like questioning the reliability of sources or information, interpreting events and ideas and memorising dates and important facts.’