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Christine Counsell


Affiliated Lecturer


MA (History), PGCE, MEd

E-mail Address


  • University of Cambridge Pilkington Prize, 2006, in recognition of excellence in teaching
  • Cambridge University Students Union, Student-led Teaching Excellence Award for Outstanding Lecturing, 2015 
  • Historical Association: Centenary Fellow, 2006, in recognition of outstanding services to the promotion of the study of history; Deputy President 2000-2; Member of Council 1995-2004; Chair of Secondary Committee 1995-7; Editor, Teaching History journal, 1998-2005; 2007-2016
  • Chair, NAGTY History Think Tank, 2005-7
  • Invited consultancy in national history education policy, including:

    • SCAA History Advisory Group for 1995 National Curriculum for history in England, 1994;
    • National non-statutory guidance e.g. teaching history essay writing, 1997;
    • Revision of 2008 Attainment Target for National Curriculum for history in England, 2007;
    • Steering group of TDA Project HITT: professional development of history teacher trainers, 2005-7;
    • History Expert Group writing 2014 National Curriculum for History, 2013.
  • Consultant: Council of Europe, various.
  • Consultant: Victoria and Albert Museum of Childhood (MLA Learning Links Project), 2010.
  • Educational Associate and Adviser: Association for Historical Dialogue and Research, Cyprus, (UNDP MIDES Project) 2010-13.
  • Consultant: Alliance for Curriculum and Professional Development in World History (British Council and SSRC: Our Shared Past), University of California Los Angeles, 2012; New York, 2013
  • Consultant: Australian Curriculum and Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA), 2012.
  • Consultant and trainer: Singapore Ministry of Education Curriculum Division, 2013.
  • Trustee, British Curriculum Foundation 2011-2013; Steering Group, British Curriculum Forum since 2013
  • Member of DfE Workload Challenge Group (Planning and Resources) 2015-16

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Christine taught history in state secondary comprehensive schools for ten years, including three years on the senior leadership and set-up team at John Cabot City Technology College, Bristol and a year as local authority advisory teacher (primary and secondary) in Gloucestershire.  Since 1995, she has held roles in initial and in-service history teacher education. In 1997, after leading a school-centred history teacher-training programme in Gloucestershire, Christine was was appointed by the University of Cambridge with responsibility for its secondary PGCE history course. She has since led on many aspects of ITT, including training of new and advanced mentors across all subjects, cross-course examining and literacy across the curriculum. 

Christine has acted as a consultant at national level in aspects of history education policy, especially concerning factual knowledge, extended writing and building rigorous argument.  She has an international reputation for lecturing, training and consultancy especially in settings where history education is contested or controversial. Christine specialises in supporting teachers in ways of blending secure narrative knowledge with discipline-rooted enquiry and argument in classrooms, especially with pupils of diverse background, ability or need. At Cambridge, Christine has developed and researched the academic role of school-based ITT mentors and built a community of history mentors who own and drive the academic and practical content and standards of the PGCE history course. Cambridge PGCE mentors use a range of professional and academic literature - especially literature authored by other practising teachers - when improving the performance of trainee teachers in schools.  Christine also has extensive whole-school in-service training and consultancy experience in developing literacy across the curriculum - especially extended writing, extended reading and formal grammar - and the role of knowledge in the whole curriculum. 

Christine blogs at:

Chief interests

  • curriculum theory and senior curriculum leadership;
  • the role of knowledge in progression and assessment;
  • developing pupils' historical knowledge and curricular analysis of its properties;
  • improving pupils’ ability to construct extended written argument and read extended texts;
  • relationships between knowledge and concept in teachers’ planning;
  • the subject-specific professional development of teachers;
  • integrating subject-specific scholarship and research into the school-based mentoring of teachers;
  • building capacity of school-based mentors to improve trainee teacher classroom performance;
  • supporting teachers in researching and writing for international academic and professional audiences.

Invited lectures, seminars and workshops

Christine has received invitations to give keynote addresses, papers, seminars and workshops for school teachers, curriculum/school leaders, local/national advisers, NGOs, policy makers, professional associations, education researchers and teacher educators in academic, professional and community settings throughout the UK and also in Australia, Belgium, Cyprus, Italy, Ireland, Lebanon, Malta, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Singapore, Slovenia, Sweden, Turkey and USA.

Sample of invitations

  • September 2016, Mugla Citki Koçlan University, Turkey. International Symposium on History Education, keynote address: Addressing the knowledge question: teaching national and world history responsibly
  • March 2016, Madingley, Cambridge. PESGB Seminar: Knowledge and the Curriculum: A cross-disciplinary interrogation of philosophical and sociological approaches with reference to Paul Hirst and Basil Bernstein: Invited paper
  • May 2015, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, US.  Invitational conference: Researching World History in the Schools, Nationwide and Worldwide, invited paper: 'What is the potential of the English curricular tradition of 'interpretations of history' for the teaching of world history?'
  • Nov 2014 - Sept 2015, Lebanese Association for History, Beirut, Lebanon.  Four two-day workshops for Professional Development Project: Developing History Teachers' Capacity to Foster Historical Thinking.
  • July 2014, Leeds Trinity and All Saints College. Schools History Project Conference, keynote address, 'On being guardians of 's': Who will polish and protect the curriculum jewel of interpretations (plural)?'
  • May 2014, Euroclio & University of Notre Dame, History Education Conference, Louaizes, Lebanon (for Cyprus, Jordan, Lebanon, Palestine, Morocco, Tunisia). Towards a Responsible and Disciplinary Approach to History Education in the Mediterranean Region, keynote address and workshops.
  • July 2013, Ministry of Education, Singapore.  Three-week training programme on the integration of knowledge, extended writing and historical thinking, for 400 history teachers in Singapore, over three weeks; consultancy for MoE on history curriculum and professional development of history teachers.  
  • April 2013, University of Linkoping, Sweden. History Didactics Conference, keynote address; and University of Umea, Sweden, invited seminar for History Education Licentiate Degree.  
  • March 2013, University of Amsterdam, Netherlands. National Trainee History Teachers Conference, keynote address: 'What should pupils do with historical change and continuity?'
  • May 2012, Ministry of Education, Singapore.  Humanities Educators Conference: Seminars for Singapore history teachers on developing historical rigour in students' independent extended writing and securing connection between historical knowledge and conceptual thinking.
  • February 2012, The American School in London, London. Professional Development Seminar: 'Developing disciplinary history'. 
  • July 2011, Victoria University of Wellington, School of Education, New Zealand. Social Sciences Conference, keynote address and workshop.
  • March 2011, Lebanese Association for Educational Studies, Beirut. Learning and Teaching History: Lessons From and For Lebanon, keynote address.
  • November 2010, University of Karlstad, Sweden. International Patterns of Research in Social Science Didactics Conference, invited lecture, ‘Trends, debates and experiences in history education in England’; workshops (i) ‘Developing mentors of trainee teachers’; (ii) ‘Practical approaches to historical thinking and argument in school history classrooms’.
  • October 2010, Nicosia, Cyprus. Association of Historical Dialogue and Research (AHDR) Conference: Developing Historical Understanding, invited workshop series, ‘Developing historical argument in the classroom’.
  • July 2010, Leeds Trinity and All Saints College. Schools History Project Conference, keynote address, 'What are students to do with historical change and continuity?'
  • May 2010, Nicosia, Cyprus. AHDR Seminar: What Does it Mean to Think Historically 6 Years On? invited paper, ‘How teachers structure interplay of content and concept’.
  • October 2009, Ljubljana, Slovenia. Council of Europe Project: The Image of the Other in History Teaching. Seminar: Partnerships and New Competences needed for History Education in a Multicultural Society, invited paper, ‘Developing the academic role of school-based partners’.
  • July 2009, British Library, London. Historical Association and British Library Annual Seminar, invited workshop: ‘Is historical diversity a second-order concept?'
  • June 2009 Institute of Education, University of London. History Special Interest Group Seminar, invited seminar, ‘Developing a hermeneutic-phenomenological study of school-based subject mentors' use of non-context-specific sources’.
  • November 2008, Norwich and March 2009, Sheffield, HA-QCDA-CfBT Regional Conferences on 2008 National Curriculum guidance roll-out, keynote address.
  • October 2008, University of Malta, Faculty of Education. The Michael A. Sant Memorial Lecture: ‘Teaching medieval Muslim and Christian Spain to British pupils: making the temporal central in patterns of change and continuity'.

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Current Research 

  1. How do mentors use academic and professional literature in the training of new teachers?
  2. Being scholarly in school: the role and practice of joint-mentor-trainee reading and discussion of historical scholarship in the school setting.
  3. The uses of the ‘enquiry question’ in mediating content and concept: history teachers’ curricular realisation in medium-term planning

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Current Course Involvement


  • teaching, supervision and assessment of MEd students: Researching Practice and Educational Research Routes
  • MEd elective: Shaping Progression in the History Curriculum

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Selected Publications

Counsell, C., Fordham, M., Carr, E., Foster, R., Goudie, K. and Hammond, K. (in preparation) 'History assessment re-assessed: treating the curriculum as the progression model'.

Counsell, C. (forthcoming, 2017) 'The fertility of substantive knowledge: in search of its hidden, generative power', in I. Davies (ed) Debates in History Teaching, Second Edition, London: Routledge.

Counsell, C. (forthcoming, 2017) ‘Historical change and continuity: how are history teachers developing it?’, in I. Davies (ed) Debates in History Teaching, Second Edition, London: Routledge.

Counsell, C., Burn, K. and Chapman, A. (eds) (2016) Masterclass in History Education, London: Bloomsbury.

Counsell, C. and Mastin, S. (2015) 'Investigating knowledge and narrative in lower secondary pupils' characterisation of historical change', International Review of History Education, Volume 5: Joined-up History: New Direction in History Education Research, Information Age Publishing.

Counsell, C., Samani, H., Georgiou, M., Mavrada, M., Onurkan Samani, M. (2013) 'Bridging the divide with a question and a kaleidoscope: designing an enquiry in a challenging setting', Teaching History, 149. 

Counsell, C., Makriyanni, C. and Onurkan Samani, M. (2013) Constructing the AHDR Supplementary Educational Materials: A journey in cooperation for a better history education, Nicosia, Cyprus: Association for Historical Dialogue and Research.

Hall, K. and Counsell, C. (2013) 'Silk purse from a sow's ear? Why knowledge matters and why the draft History NC will not improve it', Teaching History, 151.

Counsell, C. (2012) 'The other person in the room: a hermeneutic-phenomenological enquiry into mentors' experience of using academic and professional literature with trainee history teachers' in M. Evans (ed.) Teacher Education and Pedagogy: theory, policy and practice. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Counsell, C. (2011) ‘Generating historical argument about causation in the history classroom: exploring practical teaching approaches’, in Ghusayni, R., Karami, R., & Akar, B. (Eds.). (2012) Learning and teaching history: Lessons from and for Lebanon: Proceedings of the Third Conference on Education , Lebanese Association for Education Studies, 25-26 March 2011. Beirut: Arab Cultural Center.

Counsell, C. (2011) 'History teachers as curriculum makers: professional problem-solving in secondary school history education in England' in B. Schüllerqvist (ed) Patterns of Research in Civics, History, Geography and Religious Education, Karlstad: Karlstad University Press

Counsell, C. (2011) 'Disciplinary knowledge for all, the secondary history curriculum and history teachers' achievement', in The Curriculum Journal, Vol.22, No.2. pp201-225.

Counsell, C. (2011) ‘What do we want students to do with historical change and continuity?’, in I. Davies (ed) Debates in History Teaching, London: Routledge

Counsell, C. (2009) ‘Interpretivism: meeting our selves in research’, in E. Wilson (ed) School-based Research, London: Sage

Counsell, C. (2009) ‘Developing a hermeneutic-phenomenological enquiry into mentor experience of using literature with trainee history teachers’, Proceedings of the 1st International Conference on Educational Research for Development, May 13-15, 2009, Vol.2, Addis Ababa University.

Counsell, C. (2008) ‘Historical change and continuity: re-connecting with subjective and temporal experience’, The Michael A. Sant Memorial Lecture, in Vella, Y. The Michael A. Sant Memorial Lectures, No.7, Vol. 2, Malta: University of Malta Faculty of Education

Byrom, J., Counsell, C. and Riley, M. (2008) Meetings of Minds: Islamic Encounters, 570-1750, Teachers’ Book, Harlow: Pearson

Byrom, J., Counsell, C. and Riley, M. (2007) Meetings of Minds: Islamic Encounters, 570-1750, Harlow: Pearson

Byrom, J., Counsell, C. and Riley, M. (2005) Citizens’ Minds: The French Revolution, Teachers’ Book, Harlow: Pearson.

Counsell, C. (2004) 'Curiosity, critical thinking and intellectual independence: how have history teachers changed history teaching? How does historical learning change students? Keynote address’, in S. Phillippou and C. Makriyianni (eds) What Does It Mean To Think Historically? Proceedings of the First Educational Seminar by the Association of Historical Dialogue and Research, Nicosia, Cyprus: Association for Historical Dialogue and Research.

Counsell, C. (2004) ‘Looking through a Josephine-Butler-shaped window: focusing pupils’ thinking on historical significance’, Teaching History, 114.

Counsell, C. (2004) Building the Lesson Around the Text: History and Literacy, London: Hodder Murray

Counsell, C. (2003) ‘Putting knowledge, concept and skill back together again: tradition and renewal in the history teaching community in England. Keynote address, Euroclio Annual Conference, University of Bologna 25-30 March 2003’, in Euroclio Bulletin 19: School History on the Move: Changes in History Teaching and Learning in the Decade of Educational Reform, The Hague: Euroclio

Counsell, C. (2003) ‘The forgotten games kit: putting historical thinking first in long-, medium- and short-term planning’, in Haydn, T. and Counsell, C. (eds) History, ICT and Learning, London: Routledge.

Counsell, C. (2003) ‘Fulfilling history's potential: nurturing tradition and renewal in a subject community’. Keynote Address, in Harris, R. and Riley, M. (eds) (2003) Past Forward: A Vision for School History, 2002-2012, Conference Papers, London: Historical Association.

Counsell, C. (2003) ‘History for all’ in Harris, R. and Riley, M. (eds) (2003) Past Forward: A Vision for School History, 2002-2012, Conference Papers, London: Historical Association.

Byrom, J., Counsell, C. and Riley, M. (2003) Citizens’ Minds: The French Revolution, Harlow: Pearson

Counsell, C. (2001) ‘Knowledge, writing and delighting: extending the historical thinking of 11 and 12 year-olds’, The Welsh Historian, No.31.

Counsell, C., Evans, M., McIntyre, D. and Raffan, J. (2000) 'The usefulness of educational research for trainee teachers' learning', Oxford Review of Education, Vol.26, Nos 3 & 4.

Counsell, C. (2000) 'Historical knowledge and historical skills: the distracting dichotomy' in J. Arthur and R. Phillips (eds) Issues in History Teaching, London: Routledge

Counsell, C. (2000) ‘Using history to help pupils sort, classify and analyse' Teaching Thinking, 1, 1. Questions Publishing.

Counsell, C. (1999) ‘Subject knowledge, professional knowledge and student teachers' theorising’, in R. Phillips and G. Easdown (eds) History Education: Subject Knowledge, Pedagogy and Practice, St Martins College Lancaster: HTEN.

Counsell, C. (1999) Defining Effectiveness in History using ICT: Approaches to Successful Practice: A qualitative study in two schools, Coventry: BECTA.

Counsell, C. (1997) Analytical and Discursive Writing, London: Historical Association

Sample of practical publications

2011-2013, Editorial Adviser and Education Associate for the Cyprus-based organisation, AHDR, in their supplementary materials designed to support history teachers throughout Cyprus, under the Intercultural Dialogue in Education (MIDE) Project, Association for Historical Dialogue and Research, Cyprus (UNDP-funded), including: 

Counsell, C., Samani, H., Georgiou, M., Mavrada, M., Onurkan Samani, M. (2011) The Ottoman Period in Cyprus: Learning to Explore Historical Change, Continuity and Diversity, Nicosia, Cyprus: Association for Historical Dialogue and Research.

General Editor of two series for history teachers. Each blends scholarly and professional knowledge to construct practical guidance, analysis of pedagogic approaches and exemplar material:

History in Practice series, Hodder Murray.

  • e.g. Laffin, D. (2009) Better Lessons in A Level History, London: Hodder Murray

Think Through History series, Pearson.

  • e.g. Twelfth and final title in series: Byrom, J., Counsell, C. and Riley, M. (2008) Meetings of Minds: Islamic Encounters, Teachers’ Book, c.570-1750, Harlow: Pearson

Christine Counsell

image of staff member