From Monograph to Classroom: Securing the Future of West African History Through Pedagogical Innovation

Lead Research Organisation: King's College London
Department Name: History


This project will deliver major new benefits and capitalise on the AHRC Leadership Fellowship awarded to Dr Toby Green under the Early Career Route in 2016 for the project Money, Slavery and Political Change in Precolonial West Africa (AH/N004485/1). There were two major impacts associated with this project as funded, both in the education sector: the first was the development and initial promotion of the OCR A level option "African Kingdoms, c. 1400-1800", and the second the development of a new online textbook freely available to all Senior Secondary schoolchildren in English-speaking West Africa sitting the West African Senior Secondary School Examination (WASSCE) in History.

This follow-on funding allows the development of a much fuller take-up of these projects than was initially envisaged in the impact funding for the first project. Regarding the WASSCE textbook, this funded the production of the text, the setting up of the website, and the launching of the textbook at the West African Education Council (WAEC) meeting in Banjul in March 2018. Regarding the OCR course it funded a summer school and website. However no teacher training in the WAEC countries delivering this resource was envisaged. Nevertheless, since the project was launched, it has become clear through dialogue with African partners that a full suite of teacher training programs is required for the project to be fully successful, and to reach the maximum number of users, and hence the need for this funded expansion of the original impact is necessary.

This follow-on bid is now made with Dr Vincent Hiribarren as co-Investigator. Dr Hiribarren is a colleague of the PI's in the History department at King's College London. His participation as Co-Investigator derives from the heavy participation he has had in the project to date, since he designed the website, wrote two of the chapters, and attended both project meetings in Freetown and Banjul. As website designer, a historian of West Africa, well known to participants in the project from all 4 participant countries, and someone with extensive pedagogical experience at secondary and tertiary levels, he is an ideal participant in the teacher training aspects of the project.

The impact of this follow-on funding will be extensive. The launching of these projects has enabled the PI to develop a much fuller suite of new connections and a framework to now ensure full take-up of these projects and training in their implementation, which will be secured by the follow-on funding. In the WASSCE case, the PI and Co-I will co-lead pedagogy workshops in each of the 4 countries which contributed to the development of the new resource, in collaboration with West African partners. These workshops will train teachers in the delivery of the textbook, in new pedagogical models, and in designing new course materials. In the OCR case, a new partnership with the Royal African Society's Education office will enable full connection with a range of schools not previously reached through the promotion related to this option.

Both impacts will therefore be radically extended through the follow-on funding. The WASSCE impact will also significantly build towards the development of the Global Challenges Research Fund framework through developing new pedagogical resources and expertise in West Africa, while the OCR textbook helps to deliver on the recognised importance of expanding diversity of perspectives and histories taught in UK schools. Indeed it's to be noted in the latter case that this is something of growing importance to the Historical profession, following the launch of the Royal Historical Society's report on Race, Ethnicity and Equality in October 2018 (

Planned Impact

The follow-on funding's focus is a radically expanded impact developing from the initial leadership fellowship. This builds on the initial research component of the project, the PI's research on precolonial West African economic history, resulting in the monograph A Fistful of Shells: West Africa From the Rise of the Slave Trade to the Age of Revolution (Allen, Lane/Chicago University Press, 2019).

The research for this project involved extensive fieldwork in a number of West African countries. Through this fieldwork, and engagement with research collaborators in West Africa, the PI became aware of the urgent need to develop proper resources for both learners and teachers for the delivery of the History curriculum in West African schools. This saw the development of a revised Impact plan in the initial Leadership Fellowship, through the development of a dedicated website hosting a free ebook written by a number of collaborators based in and outside of West Africa (

The impact for this follow-on funding will see the radical expansion of the reach of this textbook through the following means:
1) Hosting of dedicated teacher-training workshops in each of the 4 West African Education Council (WAEC) countries (Ghana, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, The Gambia) which contributed to developing the ebook, where textbook authors and history professors will lead pedagogical training and develop new pedagogical resources for history teachers in these countries. This will thereby for the first time empowering teachers to both know better the resources available and the material for teaching, and thereby to enhance their students' knowledge.
2) The supplying of free flashdrives with the ebook, for distribution in each WAEC country, to ensure as wide access to this resource as possible. The flashdrives will be distributed with an eye to the population of each country, numbers as follows: 3000 for Nigeria, 1500 for Ghana, 500 each for Gambia and Sierra Leone. The flashdrives will be pre-loaded with the textbook, which activity will be paid for from administrative costs associated with the project.

This WASSCE project in turn developed from the PI's existing work with the OCR Assessment board, as a member of the OCR History Consultative forum and lead consultant on the development of the OCR A level option "African Kingdoms: c. 1400 - c. 1800". The impact for the original Leadership Fellowship involved workshops for secondary school teachers on this option and a plenary lecture at the Schools' History Project conference. However the urgency of this impact has been redoubled subsequently following the Royal Historical Society's report on Ethnicity, Race and Equality, and the growing clamour for a more diverse representation in school curricula.

With this in mind, the PI will radically expand the impact of this project through a new partnership with the Royal African Society (RAS)'s Education office. This will lead to:
1) New partnerships and workshops with partners identifed by RAS, including the Historical Association and the National Union of Teachers' Black Teachers Network
2) New workshops with an expanded mailing list of interested teachers established by the RAS, and also by the Pi and Co-I's host institution, King's College London's History department, which has launched recently a King's History teachers' network

Beyond this, the impact of the initial research leading to the impact agenda will be developed further through the publication of the PI's monograph in the US by Chicago University Press and in the UK by Allen Lane. This has already seen a lengthy feature published in History Today (Feb 2019). The visit to the ASA meeting in Boston to promote the WASSCE project (November 2019) will be timed to coincide with publicity events for the monograph, with invitations received already from the Director of the Smithsonian Museum of African Art to discuss the book.


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Description The grant has funded impact events in America, the UK and four West African countries to promote the impact of resources developed in a previous AHRC Leadership Award: 1, an A level option teaching precolonial African history, and 2, a free digital resource to match the Secondary School syllabus in History in four West African countries.

The key findings are in the role of impact events and school discussions in promoting an engagement with African history. A number of school visits have been made which have promoted the development of new materials for the delivery of African history which are freely available. In addition, promotion of resources at key conferences such as the Historical Association Conference has seen a wider take-up of the resource.

What has been achieved are:
1, the delivery of African history in a whole new range of schools across the UK that previously did not have the resources to teach it -- including for instance to one academy chain in South London where the history of Benin will be taught to 800 Key Stage 3 students.
2, promotion of a wider awareness among the general public of the importance and relevance of African history to public debates
3, promotion of an entirely new resource for secondary schoolchildren on History which is being used across West Africa, and for which the pedagogy workshop shave given the possibility to develop
Exploitation Route The funding period ha snot yet come to an end so this is till to be determined.
Sectors Education,Culture, Heritage, Museums and Collections

Description The findings and work are being used by a range of actors, including teachers, people working in the cultural sector (especially museums), and also students and exam boards. The event being held at the British Museum on March 26th sold out in two days and will have 60-70 attendees, many teachers but also members of the cultural sector interested in debates as to how to bring a wider range of knowledge of African history into their collections. The resources developed are being used by teachers across the UK and West Africa. The website with the free textbook for West African students had 12000 unique views in June 2019 ad the pedagogy workshops now being developed with this new grant will ensure the widest possible uptake. Exam boards in West AFrica are now amending their syllabus to take account of the new resource.
First Year Of Impact 2019
Sector Education,Culture, Heritage, Museums and Collections
Impact Types Cultural,Societal

Description Delivery of workshops for teachers about teaching African History in Schools 
Organisation British Museum
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution We have worked with the Royal African Society to develop contacts with the education team and the curatorial team of the Africa rooms, using existing contacts and the resources already developed under the AHRC Leadership Fellowship. We have led on planning and proposing a workshop to be delivered on March 26th 2020.
Collaborator Contribution They have provided the resource space at the CLore Learning Centre, and also the expertise of their Curator of the African Collections, Sam Nixon, to work on this event.
Impact A workshop on March 26th.
Start Year 2019
Description Liverpool Museum of Slavery 
Organisation International Slavery Museum
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution We have worked with the curator of the African collections, Zachary Kingdon, to develop a partnership and delivery of a workshop on teaching African history at schools -- we felt it vital to work in the north as well as the south of England, and this connection (which was already made) allowed us to do so.
Collaborator Contribution They have provided resources space and expertise in the topic, as well as working with Liverpool Council's education department to publicise the event.
Impact A workshop for teachers in the Liverpool area on the topic of teaching African history in schools, delivered on June 26th 2020.
Start Year 2019
Description Royal African Society partnership in promoting the teaching of African History in Schools 
Organisation Royal African Society
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution We have worked very closely with the Royal African Society's Education Officer to deliver 3 workshops on teaching African history in schools. This is drawing on the network of teachers that the PI has been working with, and also on the resources that the PI has produced for teaching this history in schools.
Collaborator Contribution Our partners have worked to develop close ties with other deliverers of these workshops, especially the British Museum
Impact Workshop for teachers at the British Museum (March 26th 2020) and at Liverpool's Museum of Slavery (June 26th 2020)
Start Year 2019
Description WASSCE textbook and WAEC 
Organisation West African Education Council
Country Ghana 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution One of the major impacts of the project has been the development of an online textbook freely available to schoolchildren across West Africa. This follows the syllabus for History of the West African Senior Secondary Certificate of Education (WASSCE), which is shared among all English-speaking countries in West Africa. This textbook has been developed in collaboration with historians teaching in Ghana, Nigeria, Sierra Leone and The Gambia, building on the model of the OCR A level textbook. As PI I organised the textbook, the chapters, edited it, and through this contacted WAEC, who immeditaely saw the pedgaogical potential of this resource for schoolchildren in West Africa. We have therefore developed a vital resource for WAEC.
Collaborator Contribution WAEC invited us to present the textbook at their annual meeting in Banjul (March 23-24 2018) and to promote it through their networks of country-based teachers, thereby hugely enhancing the reach of the impact.
Impact The online resource is freely available here. It is not a multidisciplinary output.
Start Year 2017
Description Plenary Lecture at the Historical Association May 2020 Conference 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Invited to give a plenary lecture on teaching African history at the Historical Association's annual conference in May 2020 -- advertised to all delegates (c 250). Raising the profile of African history in British education and historical debate.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
Description School Visits (2020) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact Attended two schools to talk about African history's rleevant to A level topics -- talking to 20 students (St Paul's Girls School, Hammersmith, February 4th 2020); and to 25 students (two groups of year 12 and 13 students) at the BRIT school in Croydon, February 24th 2020).
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020