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Dr Alison Kitson
UCL Institute of Education, University College London
20 Bedford Way
Dr Alison Kitson profile picture
  • Associate Professor in History Education
  • IOE - Curriculum, Pedagogy & Assessment
  • UCL Institute of Education
I started my career in education teaching in three secondary state comprehensive schools, including as Head of History.  From there I moved to the University of Warwick as Teacher in History Education and Teacher Development to establish a new History PGCE course and to lead the new Fast Track programme.  This was the start of an enduring engagement in teacher development which in time led me to the Training and Development Agency for Schools as a Programme Leader where I led national projects including Postgraduate Professional Development, Subject Specific Continuing Professional Development (CPD) and CPD leadership.

I joined the Institute of Education in 2008 as a lecturer in education and have worked across a number of roles including Subject Leader for History, Deputy Programme Leader for the secondary PGCE and Faculty Director of Initial Teacher Education.  Following an increasing interest in environmental and sustainability education, I have been closely involved in the development of UCL's new Centre for Climate Change and Sustainability Education and am now its programme director.

In 2021 I was elected Deputy President of the Historical Association. 

Research Summary

I completed my PhD in 2020 in which I compared the knowledge that teachers draw on across secondary history, geography and physics when making planning and teaching decisions.  I argued that teachers are more actively engaged in the recontextualisation of academic disciplines into school subjects than is sometimes suggested in the literature.  

Previous projects have included Nuffield-funded research into history teaching in England and research funded by the Carnegie Council into teaching history in divided societies (focusing on Northern Ireland).  

More recently I have conducted research with Julia Huber into the stories of British history that students from different ethnic groups tell.  Following a six month visit to Victoria University in Wellington as a visiting scholar, I have also completed research with Professor Mark Sheehan into the way that young people interact with museum exhibitions about the First Work War in England and New Zealand.

My current interests include the potential role of history education in fostering a deeper understanding of the current climate crisis and the relationship between humans and the natural world, as well as a more general interest in supporting teachers to respond to the current planetary crisis and related sustainability challenges in meaningful and constructive ways. I am currently involved with two funded research projects: a CTTR funded project exploring secondary PGCE students' engagement in sustainability issues through their teaching across different subjects and a UCL Grand Challenges funded project exploring the variation in secondary schools' engagement in climate change and sustainability education in partnership with UCL's Climate Action Unit.  I am also leading an unfunded project, Teach Climate History, with colleagues from UCL and the University of Bristol with a working group of primary and secondary history education colleagues from schools and universities across England.

Teaching Summary
I taught in three state comprehensive schools for eight years before moving into Higher Education, teaching first at the University of Warwick for five years (history PGCE and the DfE's Fast Track programme) and latterly at the IOE.  At IOE I have taught PGCE students during most years since 2008 and have taught and supervised students on the Masters in Education (History) programme.  This year I am co-supervising two PhD students with Professor Zongyi Deng and Dr Arthur Chapman..
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