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Claremont High School Academy

A History lesson like no other

We talk to teacher and author, Ms Patel, about blind spots and sequels 

Not every school can boast having a published author among its staff, but that’s exactly what Claremont High School has in award-winning History teacher, Ms Patel. Her debut book, The History Lessons, came out in May this year and offers readers the opportunity to examine their ‘historical blind spots’ by focusing on the people and stories all too often left out of textbooks. 

So how did the book come about? 

‘Since I won a National Teaching award in 2018, I’ve been lucky enough to be given the opportunity to talk about history in newspapers, magazines, radio and documentaries,’ explains Ms Patel. ‘As a result, I was approached by a few different publishers to write a book but didn't really feel anyone had an idea I particularly wanted to put my mind to. Then I was contacted by a literary agent called Emma who had an idea for a history book for adults. When we met for the first time, we spent hours talking about our different ideas… The History Lessons was born!’ 

What, essentially, is the focus of the book? 

‘It’s a history book for adults,’ says Ms Patel, ‘which uses the sort of history they would have learnt at school as a backdrop to explore the histories of people and places that are probably less familiar to them. For example, the History Department at Claremont teaches a lot about the British Empire in Year 8, but most adults know very little about this topic as most of them wouldn't have learnt this when they were at school. The book is an opportunity for them to learn new things about history. A lot of the people we teach Claremont students about are in the book, including the suffragette Sophia Duleep Singh and the Japanese warrior Tomoe Gozen.’ 

Do her students know that she’s a published author? What do they think about it? 

‘My older students know about The History Lessons and have been very excited by it,’ reveals Ms Patel. ‘Hopefully they think it's pretty cool that their teacher has written a book!’      

And is she planning a sequel? Can Ms Patel share anything with us? 

‘I have got a few ideas, one in particular that I'm really excited about… But, unfortunately, I can't say anything yet!’ 

We’ll just have to keep following her on Instagram or, if you’re really lucky - and a student at Claremont - get a front-row seat in her classroom! Let the History lesson begin…