Achievement and attainment at the highest GCSE levels for AQA History demands both developed and complex thinking. The mark schemes have very precise descriptions of what students need to achieve to successfully get into the Higher Mark Bands and therefore achieve the highest GCSE grades. This new course, led by the highly experienced and nationally renowned examiner and course leader Dr Paul Johnson, aims to demonstrate exactly what developed and complex thinking looks like so that teachers can train their students to use and show these skills for enhanced GCSE success.


  • Explore the qualities of complex and developed thinking
  • Gain teaching methods to ensure that your students can get the highest marks across the papers
  • Discover how you can help your students successfully show complex and developed thinking in their historical answers
  • Take away strategies for promoting developed and complex thinking in all aspects of GCSE History
  • Obtain high level ideas which allow your students to work beyond GCSE level
COURSE DATES London Wednesday 13 March 2019
London Tuesday 2 July 2019
  • Heads of History
  • All teachers of AQA GCSE History
IN-SCHOOL You can also book this as an In-School Course
  • A specially prepared folder of 50+ pages full of detailed notes, practical advice and guidance
  • Notes prepared by the educational experts leading the course
  • Expert produced PowerPoint presentations
  • CPD Certificate of attendance
  • Two course restaurant lunch
  • Refreshments throughout the day
  • Guaranteed high quality venues


10.00 – 11.15am
Complex and Developed Thinking in the AQA GCSE History Examinations

  • Utilising feedback from 2018 to assess where students struggled and succeeded
  • The different AQA questions and mark schemes: what is required to reach the top marks
  • Approaches to ensure students know where developed and complex thinking are required
  • Review example answers to explore how examiners recognise developed and complex thinking
  • Promoting a skill-set that supports and encourages developed complex thinking from Year 7
  • Embedding developed and complex thinking at Key Stage 3

11.15 – 11.30am
Discussion: coffee break

11.30 – 12.45pm
Developed and Complex Thinking in Practice

  • Two year plans to ensure students are working to the correct standards in a linear GCSE
  • Exploring the components of developed and complex thinking
  • Considering how students can demonstrate developed and complex thinking
  • Developing complex and developed thinking on historical sources at GCSE level
  • New teaching approaches for a Level 3 / 4 understanding of interpretations

12.45 – 1.45pm
Lunch and informal discussion

1.45 – 2.45pm
Strategies for Stretching and Challenging students

  • Skilled teacher questioning to develop complex thinking
  • Approaches, tips and techniques for teaching the skills across the GCSE course
  • Challenging and enabling your highest achieving students to show developed and complex thinking in tasks across the course
  • Tasks beyond GCSE level for the most able to encourage outstanding answers
  • Leading on to A-level – preparing the most able students for the step up in demand
  • Complex thinking on each of the four topics – teaching the synoptic and specific skills
  • Ensuring complex thinking in the 16 mark questions

2.45 – 3.00pm
Discussion: afternoon tea

3.00 – 3.45pm
Attaining the highest mark bands in the Paper 1 and 2 examinations

  • The different requirements for answers across the question types to reach Levels 3 and 4
  • Making sure students produce what examiners are looking for in each question
  • Excellent exam preparation to make sure students can demonstrate high level historical skills: tips and techniques that lead to outstanding responses

Plenary and Reflection

  • Sharing ideas, tools and techniques for developed and complex thinking

Dr Paul Johnson

Paul is an experienced examiner, Deputy Head and trainer with more than 35 years’ teaching experience in a range of educational contexts. He is a Senior Examiner with a leading examination board, a former Principal Moderator and the author of a number of text books and articles on the craft of history teaching. He could recently be heard on BBC radio giving advice on Revision Hacks for parents and students.

View all courses led by Dr Paul Johnson >