What is TMHistoryIcons? And how does it support History Teachers?

Author: Andrew Sweet and Alex Fairlamb

Category History

By Andrew Sweet and Alex Fairlamb

History and History Teachers are at the heart of TMHistoryIcons, a not for profit organisation founded by Tom Rogers four years ago. The philosophy of the event has always been to provide high quality, high impact, free CPD for History Teachers, by History Teachers, by blending keynotes from historians and noted history practitioners, alongside practical pedagogy from the chalk face of the classroom in the form of a TeachMeet. At the heart of this is also the drive to encourage the history community to come together, celebrate, and share their expertise.

Last month, at the TES HQ in Sheffield, the fourth national TMHistoryIcons event attracted 140 teachers from across the country (and beyond!) with livestream audiences from as far afield as Canada and Australia. On a Saturday, in a jam-packed seven hours, the event comprised three Historians, a series of authors and bloggers, and a TeachMeet which included a cross section of first time speakers, NQTs, and experienced teachers. This ties in with the philosophy of the event: that it’s for all History Teachers at whichever career stage. All levels of experience are welcomed and championed.

This year's keynote speakers were: historian Marc Morris (author of The Norman Conquest, and King John); Ben Walsh (Associate Vice President of HA), Sally Thorne (author of Becoming the Outstanding History Teacher); and Russel Tarr (author of The History Teacher Toolkit and creator of Active History). Talks and TeachMeets explored both History content and skills, ranging from developing vocabulary at Key Stage 3 and source skills, to Black Tudors and re-thinking how women’s history is integrated into existing schemes of learning. The focus of the talks and selection of the TeachMeet applicants is based on themes that we see emerging within history education, alongside feedback and suggestions from previous events or Twitter.

The feedback on the event was extremely positive, with many noting that the theme of diversity provided plenty of food for thought when considering curriculum maps. One attendee, Education Trainer and Consultant Carmel Bones, said: “The experience was truly uplifting and the feedback I hear universally glowing. I’m giving you a standing ovation!”

The events are live streamed so that more practitioners can participate in the day and benefit from the work being shared. The streams also form a video library on our YouTube channel, enabling teachers to revisit the talks and include them in departmental meetings. We take great pride in the fact that many attendees comment on the community feel of the day, and how many connections they have made with others who work in history, building firm friendships and a wider subject community.

Behind TMHistoryIcons is a team of six full time history teachers who have volunteered to run the conference. With Tom, and more recently Alex, taking overall lead, the conference is planned to the finest detail by direct messaging! We rarely meet in person, given that two members of the team live in Romania and Slovenia, and the rest live in varying corners of the UK. Our love for the event and commitment to it mean that there are regular message discussions, with the communication around planning, sponsorship, bookings, catering – even the takeaway bags! – assigned to each person to lead on. The conference is very much our collective effort to bring together what we consider to be a history conference to be proud of.

TM History Group photo 2

The TMHistoryIcons family from left to right are: Scott Allsop, Alice Southern, Tom Rogers, Alex Fairlamb, Andrew Sweet and Carol Stobbs.

The event is free, and this is due to our incredible sponsors: TES Resources, Squaducation, BBC Teach, Beamish Museum, Time Travel Education and Pupil Progress. Their generosity and participation means we are not only able to deliver an ambitious timetable for the day, but that we are able to share their expertise too. Sponsors’ presentations and stalls mean that delegates can try out VR technology to experience the Western Front, learn about museum workshops to enhance learning, and discover a range of technological tools to support history classrooms such as videos and pupil progress tracking. By connecting history practitioners with experts in their fields, our aim is to ensure delegates leave impassioned with ideas and strategies, as well as understanding how other organisations can help realise and support those ideas.

Legacy is something very important to TMHistoryIcons, and this is something that has really begun to take shape with the evolution of the event into a larger organisation – a family of subject specific TMIcons events – of which TMHistoryIcons is one. Additionally, the weekly TMHistoryIcons Hour on Twitter (Thursday, 8-9pm) hosted by Carol Stubbs and Andrew Sweet enables the dialogue to continue throughout the year.

On behalf of the team, thank you for taking the time to read about our event. We would love to see you at the next one!


Andrew Sweet is Head of Humanities and History at Millfield Prep School, Conference Speaker, Co-organiser of TMHISTORY and Co-founder of @Historybookgrp. He is always running half marathons, and always agreeing with Alex.

Alex Fairlamb is an Associate Assistant Headteacher, Lead Practitioner of History, SLE, National Coordinator for TMHistoryIcons, Lead Teacher for GirlKind, and conference speaker. Her interests include museums and gender issues.