• History

History

 

‘Dwell on the past too much and you will lose an eye. Forget the past and you will lose both eyes.’ 

(an old Russian proverb) 

Some people say history is using the past to explain the present and create the future. Others say it helps you work out if humans are gods or gods are humans, or if there really are gods. Others still say history is just one damn thing after another!  With history, you can meet the people of the past who shaped the world of today – such as Socrates, Jesus, Caesar and Hitler, and work out why people kiss – and kill. 

However it is defined, History attempts to know what happened in the past and why (just because we can), but also to try and understand where we have been in order to take control of where we are going. Studied well, history can help to make us educated. And being educated helps us to live not just for today or for the moment, but to actually understand what a moment is. 

Our Approach

We want to make a learner’s head hurt. Our approach to history is chronological, intellectual, imaginative and challenging.  We aim to teach as much of human history as we can, and we hope the learner will start thinking for yourselves about how this history has created the world of today.  Students will be expected to read a lot, write a lot and know a lot, and then go and make history.  This is based on an expectation of very hard work, leading to the possibility of genuinely independent thinking and writing.  No teaching tricks, just pupil and a teacher working out how things happened in the past. 

Key Stage 3

Year 7 

Students have two fifty minute lessons of history per week.

Students are introduced to basic chronology but we hit the ground running with an overview of the history of the world from what some call the ‘big bang’ and some call ‘creation’. From this starting point students then cover the beginnings of known human history and then consider the earliest civilisations. Students look in more detail at Ancient Greece before ending the year with a review of knowledge gained so far.

Students have to know and revise important dates (not just their own birthday!) and keywords, and are assessed through tests, extended timed essays, homework and an end of year exam. The aim in year 7 is to teach a lot of new content but also to establish a basis for later comparative thinking between different periods such as ancient and modern – and to understand what AD and BC mean! Wherever possible, wider reading and writing is expected to be taken on by the student as there is no shortage of material to study.


Year 8

Students have two fifty minute lessons of history per week.

Students revisit their work from year 7 at the start of year 8 but then quickly move on to more modern themes and events from the Roman Empire to the Medieval Period and the Renaissance.  Students develop an increasing focus on the role of individuals such as Luther, Galileo and Leonardo because in these periods individuals did indeed become more significant.  And yes, in case you were wondering, we do look at the Battle of Hastings in 1066!

Expectations of written work increase: there is more emphasis on explanation as well as description.  This tends to be more of a focus in year 8, as students start to think more for themselves about historical change and continuity.  Assessment, as in Year 7, is based on tests, timed extended essays and final examination, but with a growing expectation of individual discussion and evidence.  Contrary to coverage in the media, we have a genuine expectation of the ability of students to concentrate for long periods of time.


Year 9

Students have two fifty minute lessons of history per week.

Students begin to study the modern world beginning with the ‘discovery’ of America by Columbus in 1492.  Students also consider aspects of the slave trade, the English civil war, the British Empire, the enlightenment and French and American Revolutions, the industrial revolution and the rise of science and the causes and consequences of the First and Second World Wars, ending with the death of Hitler in Germany and the dropping of two atomic bombs on Japan in 1945.

Assessment builds on previous years and uses similar methods, but becomes gradually more conceptual, comparative and critical, so that (wherever possible) students are thinking for themselves about how the modern world began to be created. In addition to these methods we also focus on extended essay writing – including a school competition – and public discussion and debate as means of developing student thinking.

Key Stage 4

Starting with the legacy of World War Two and the Holocaust in 1945, history at Key Stage 4 assesses how the modern world came into being politically, economically and socially.  While we have a significant focus in Year 10 on how the Cold War rivalry between the USA and Soviet Union created the structures of the world we live in today, we recognise that new tensions and conflicts have now developed connected to a shifting balance of power since the Soviet Union collapsed. 

With all this in mind, we try to understand how and why the world became the way it is, and how this affected both Britain and the rest of the world. So although we begin with the war of the world, we end with the so-called war on terror – and we try not to forget that history is also about peace! Students are also expected to understand the modern world in relation to the ancient world and develop their understanding of long-term causes and consequences in creating the period of time we call the ‘modern’ world.  They demonstrate this understanding in their own historical investigation which is seen as preparation for further study and a trip is offered in year 11 (in recent years we have been to Berlin and Poland).
 

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