History is not just about the past, learning dates or about different kings and queens. History is mainly concerned with how the past helps us to understand the present, as well as possible future developments in human society. It gives us an insight into human action and motivation and increases our understanding of other people from other places, times and cultures.
The skills it develops are incredibly relevant to world around us:
- Testing evidence
- Asking questions and interrogating information
- Building arguments
- Presenting ideas
- Writing in depth analysis and reports
- Interpreting different viewpoints
- Empathy and imagination
These skills are developed through the core historial skills of:
- Chronology – ordering time
- Sense of period – understanding the past
- Diversity – recognizing the complexity of the past
- Cause and consequence – looking at the reasons and results of events
- Similarity and difference – comparing, contrasting and discovering trends
- Significance – judging and analyzing why historical events are important
- Interpretations – looking at how other people see historical events
- Enquiry – asking questions and mounting your own investigation
- Source analysis – analyzing complex texts and making deductions
- Communication – sharing your ideas, questions and thoughts with others
The department follows the National Curriculum at Key Stage 3 (Years 7 and 8). This is largely focused on Britain, with some international studies as well and follows a chronological model.
In Year 7 we begin by studying the four house heroes (Boudicca, Kett, Nelson and Cavell), to decide who is the most significant in history. We then study the Middle Ages, covering topics such as The Battle of Hastings, the Feudal System and Black Death. Later in the year we learn about the Tudors and Stuarts, ending with study of Slavery, beginnings of Empire and the Industrial Revolution.
In Year 8 we begin with a unit on 'people power' which looks at groups such as chartists, Tolpuddle Martyrs and the women's suffrage movement to chart how people began to fight for a win the rights we enjoy today. We then cover the 20th century in depth; World War One, life in Nazi Germany, the Holocaust and World War Two, and the events of the 1960s and 1970s as a time for change for women, Black people and workers. We end by linking History to the modern day by studying various freedom fighters and terrorist groups.
Students may opt to follow a GCSE History course at Key Stage 4 (Years 9, 10 and 11).
Year 9 students begin with a non-examined preparation unit on Crime and Punishment which will help imbed the skills necessary for the GCSE course. Then they study the history of Medicine through the ages, focusing on the rate of progress made since the Middle Ages and some of the gruesome attempts to cure people! This includes a focus unit on the Western Front 1914-1918 and the medical developments made during the First World War. Year 9 will begin to study the American West (1840- 1890) which focuses on the conflict between settlers and the native population as people of European descent drove across the USA in the 19th Century.
Year 10 students will continue and complete the American West unit and then study Early Elizabethan England. This is an interesting period of change, with many familiar topics such as the Spanish Armada, execution of Mary Queen of Scots and exploration of Francis Drake.
Year 11 students study Weimar and Nazi Germany 1919 -1939, which includes the rise of Hitler and the Nazi Party and the lead up to World War 2.
At Key Stage 3, most homework tasks are in the form of short tasks or follow on tasks or preparatory work.
At Key Stage 4, the majority of homework tasks are follow-up work, preparation or examination questions.
Books, Equipment, Materials and Resources Recommended/Needed:
A good stationery set is required at Key Stage 3 and 4.
Advice on revision guides will be provided by the department and resources available on the VLE.
At Sixth Form, it is helpful if students can purchase their own copies of texts, although departmental copies are kept.
Opportunities for Study Beyond Key Stage 4
Some students will be taking AS level but the majority will be doing the two year A2 Level.
In Year 12, we study Russia 1894 - 1941, covering the downfall of the Tsar, the Russian revolution and Lenin and Stalin. We will also study the later Tudors; Edward VI. Mary I and Elizabeth I. There will be an exam on each of these topics.
In Year 13, we study Popular Culture and the Witch Craze in the 16th and 17th centuries in Europe. This unit is examined. Year 13 also complete an extended piece of coursework on the topic of the Holocaust.
Career Opportunities Supported by this Subject
History is an academically respected subject as well as being highly valued and respected by employers who demand History students for the unique combination of skills they have gained during their studies.
Historical skills provide an excellent foundation for a number of popular careers. A knowledge of current affairs is useful for careers such as Journalism, Broadcasting, and the Civil and Diplomatic Service; historical skills like research are useful for careers in Law, Publishing, Management, and Librarianship and of course, careers where a knowledge of the past is important include Architecture, Archive Work, Heritage jobs, TV/Radio programme research, Conservation/Natural History.
A Level History combines well with Maths and Science subjects to create an attractive portfolio of qualifications, enabling students to move on to a university science based course. Combined with English, Sociology, Geography, Drama or a Modern Foreign Language, it would provide a good basis for an arts or languages based degree.