The Cabinet Papers banner

Classroom uses for Overview Studies

The overview studies are NOT designed to replace the traditional teacher input and or textbook reading elements of a course. They are also not designed to be off-the-shelf homework or class-work tasks with defined answers and an answer sheet. They are designed to make the Cabinet papers (and other related sources) accessible and easy to integrate into an existing course, as well as provoke thought and discussion. They will undoubtedly serve to broaden the range of material students experience in the course of study.

Where do they fit into your teaching programme?

Decide on the outcome you are aiming for. The overview studies have two primary aims, but they are designed to be flexible resources and can be used to target other priorities. For example, they can be used for students to practice source analysis skills. They can also be used as background work to support the 'in depth' studies on this site or a different 'in depth' study that is part of your A level course.

Paper or electronic formats?

The resources have been written with onscreen use in mind, allowing you to move easily from one source to another, and to different sections and links. Sources from the Cabinet papers are available as PDFs which can be printed and used just like any other handout.

Classroom or out of school?

The overview studies can be used in either way. Like any other resource, their use needs to be planned in relation to the teaching programme and other resources being used. In practice, most experienced teachers tend to use resources in a combination of ways. In a study that runs over several lessons, a class might be asked to work on one theme or sub-section of the study during lesson time and continue with one or more sections as a homework assignment, or as preparation for a debate in the next lesson.

Individual or group work?

Although overview studies can be suited to individual, paired or group work, they are probably best suited to collaborative approaches. These tend to generate dialogue and discussion that helps most students improve and develop their personal understanding of a topic.

An obvious way of using overview studies would be to allocate the various sub-sections of a study to different pairs or groups within a class, ask them to work on their particular area and present their findings back to the rest of the group.

Individuals within a group could tackle one particular sub-section and report back to the group to discuss the synoptic question, presenting their views to the entire class. If students are presenting their views on the whole study or on particular sections, remember that all sources have corresponding text transcripts that can be copied into standard packages such as Word, PowerPoint and their equivalents. This is to be encouraged, as it requires students to select extracts that are most relevant to the issue they are studying.

Provisions for re-using source material in this site are as follows:

  • All Cabinet records, precedent books and secretary's notebooks are available for re-use as PDF documents that can be downloaded free of charge
  • Image sources are subject to copyright and students need to obtain permissions for reuse with identified copyright holders
  • Video sources cannot be exported but can link to a student presentation using a hyperlink

The Writing Frame

Each overview comes with a synoptic question designed to pull together students' understanding of a broad range of content. It will help them to express their views, with support from the sources.

The Writing Frame is a tool designed to break down the process of selecting, analysing and using sources for this purpose. We hope the Writing Frame will not only support students as they work, but will also increase awareness of methodology. The synoptic question can also be simply used as a basis for discussion in class, perhaps with notes on an interactive whiteboard. The Writing Frame could then be set as a homework assignment (see related guides).