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Why the SHP Summer Conference matters to me.

Dear SHP Family

It’s early on a Sunday morning, it’s raining (again) and it’s my birthday. So what on earth am I doing sitting at my desk writing this blog? The answer is pretty simple. The SHP Summer Conference matters to me, and I hope it matters to many of the people reading this. I’ve been networking hard recently to promote the conference and have been asked a number of times what makes the conference different or special. I could have responded by listing the 28 fantastic workshops that we have curated (which you can find here and waxing lyrical about the keynote lecture from Dr Caroline Dodds Pennock, or the roundtable with Martin Spafford, Arthur Chapman, Claire Holliss, Jason Todd and Helen Snelson. Of course I did. However, the answer that I gave is that our conference has always created the space for people to spend time together, to bond over this shared experience, to make friends and above all to be part of the incredible energy that swirls through Leeds Trinity University that weekend. That, for me, is why conference matters so much. It is a rare privilege in the contemporary world of (history) teaching to be able to spend 48 hours enjoying the company of so many inspiring, interesting and fun people, whilst also being stimulated by the wisdom, and resources that they are sharing. 

This year sees conference returning to it’s spiritual home at Leeds Trinity University and I am thrilled that so many of the people that have made SHP conferences so special for me, will be joining us in Leeds. Our Fellows, Honorary Fellows and Regional Advisors ( all play such an important role in driving SHP forward, whilst also maintaining that critical link to our past. I always remember arriving at LTU and being greeted by the likes of Ian Dawson, Chris Culpin and Michael Riley and feeling like I was in the company of really special people who had made such an impact on my career. They will be there again this year to welcome you all. I remember the conversations in the bar with Donald Cumming and Nick Dennis that cemented friendships that have lasted to this day. I’ve lost count of the myriad different ways in which my teaching has blossomed as a result of the workshops that I’ve attended. I want this to be the experience for hundreds of history teachers this year and from now onwards. Conference matters and we want you to join us.


This annual bursary was established in 2017 by the Education Committee of Kent Archaeological Society in memory of Ian Coulson.  Ian was Adviser for History in Kent schools for over 25 years, a leading figure in the Schools History Project and, at the time of his premature death in 2015, President of the Kent Archaeological Society.

Teachers of History in Kent and Medway schools (primary and secondary) are invited to apply for the 2024-35 Ian Coulson Bursary for Local History/Archaeology in Schools. A grant of up to £1000 is available to help teachers develop new teaching resources for local history and/or archaeology; this could include materials for a SHP History Around Us study. The closing date for applications is 30 June.  

Teaching resources produced by the Bursary are available for teachers anywhere in the country to download and adapt to suit the needs of their pupils. 

For further details, application forms and free teaching resources arising from previous bursaries click here:  Ian Coulson Bursary | Canterbury Archaeological Trust (