History is a very popular subject at both GCSE and A level. A knowledge of the past helps to provide students with an understanding of the world today. Studying History helps students to understand how the world today has been shaped by events and people in the past.
Wherever you look in society, historians are playing a key role, be it in politics, entertainment or business. This is because the study of History provides young people with those essential skills such as communication, analysis and debate much prized by employers. Therefore it is excellent grounding for a career in law, business or management.
KEY STAGE 3
In Year 9, students are taught for 3 periods over a fortnight. The focus of History at KS3 is to continue to build upon the skills and knowledge developed from middle school. This is through a chronological approach and aims to help students understand the key developments from 1750 through to the modern world. The autumn term focuses on an introduction to history skills, living and working conditions in the industrial revolution, Jack the Ripper and the Titanic. The spring and summer terms moves on to the Suffragettes and the impact of warfare on technology and society in the 20th century. There is also a cross-curricular study alongside the R.E. department, which looks at the history of anti-Semitism and the Holocaust.
KEY STAGE 4
The Year 10 and 11 students are currently studying the Edexcel GCSE (9-1) History course. This course is split over 4 units that are assessed through three externally examined papers. These are split in the following way: Paper 1 (30%); Paper 2 (40%) and Paper 3 (30%). There is no separate higher or foundation tier and no NEA or coursework element.
Paper 1 (30%) is on Medicine in Britain, c1250-present and the British sector of the Western Front, 1914-18: injuries, treatment and the trenches. This is split into two parts: Section A is on the Western Front, 1914-1918 and focuses on source skills, which require students to analyse two different sources and discuss the utility of each. Section B is a thematic study, which looks at cause, treatment and prevention of medicine through four distinct periods of time: Medieval; Renaissance; Industrial; Modern. The exam requires students to answer three questions that assess their knowledge and understanding. The first two questions are compulsory. For the third question, students answer one from a choice of two.
Paper 2 (40%) is a combined exam and looks at two separate units: The reigns of King Richard I and King John, 1189 – 1216 and Superpower relations and the Cold War, 1941 – 91. The Cold War unit is split into three parts: The origins of the Cold War, 1941-58; Cold War crises, 1958-70; The end of the Cold War, 1970-91. The period study (Cold War) exam requires Students to answer three questions that assess their knowledge and understanding. The first two questions are compulsory. For the third question, students select two out of three parts. The reigns of King Richard and King John unit is also split into three parts: Life and government in England, 1189-1216; Involvement overseas, 1189-1204; King John’s downfall, 1205-126. The British depth study (King Richard & King John) requires Students answer a single three-part question that assesses their knowledge and understanding. The first two parts are compulsory. For the third part, students select one from a choice of two.
Paper 3 (30%) is on Weimar and Nazi Germany, 1918-39. The depth studies focus on a substantial and coherent short time span (1918-1939) and require students to understand the complexity of a society or historical situation and the interplay of different aspects within it. The students are assessed on all four assessment objectives including the ability to evaluate contemporary sources and later interpretations. The course is split into four parts: The Weimar Republic, 1918-1929; Hitler’s rise to power, 1919-1933; Nazi control and dictatorship, 1933-39; Life in Nazi Germany, 1933-39. Section A requires students to answer a question based on a provided source and a question that assesses their knowledge and understanding. Section B requires students to answer a single four-part question, based on two provided sources and two provided interpretations.
KEY STAGE 5
The Year 12 and 13 students are currently studying the A Level OCR course. The main purpose of this qualification is to prepare the students by providing a suitable foundation for the study of history or related courses in Higher Education. A further purpose of this qualification is to prepare the students intending to pursue careers or further study in history, or as part of a general education. This qualification is designed to foster the development of critical and reflective thinking with an understanding of historical topics and issues; and to encourage an awareness of the importance of historical awareness in explaining contemporary issues. This is a linear course with three written exams and a non-examined assessment.
Unit 1 and 2 are taught in the first year of the course and make up 40% of the overall grade.
Unit 1 is on Anglo-Saxon England and the Norman Conquest 1035-1107 (25%). This unit has two elements: A period study and an enquiry. The period study element of the unit is assessed by essays, which will allow learners to develop their use and understanding of historical terms, concepts and skills. The period study focuses on four key topics: Anglo-Saxon England 1035-1066; William of Normandy’s invasion and the Battle of Hastings 1066; William I and the consolidation of power; William I and the government and administration of England. The enquiry element of the unit is assessed at the end of the period and will focus on the critical use of evidence in investigating and assessing historical questions, problems and issues. This will be assessed through the evaluation and judgement on different source material. The enquiry element focuses on three key topics: William II ‘Rufus’ and the consolidation of power and government; William II ‘Rufus’ and the Church; The death of William II ‘Rufus’ and the succession of Henry to 1107.
Unit 2 is on The Cold War in Asia 1945 – 1993 (15%). This unit is assessed through a single exam with two questions. A shorter question assessing the significance of two events and a traditional period study essay question. The students will have the option to choose the questions they answer. The nature of both questions ensures that the students will have to reach a supported judgement. The unit focuses on four key topics: Western policies in Post War Asia, 1945-79; The Korean War 1950-53 and its impact to 1977; Indochina 1945-67; Wars in Vietnam and Cambodia 1968-93.
In the second year of the course, units 3 and 4 are covered and make up 60% of the overall grade.
Unit 3 is on Civil Rights in the USA 1865 – 1992 (40%). There are two elements to unit: The thematic study and historical interpretations. This unit group seeks to develop an understanding of connections and interpretations between different elements of the subject and for learners to draw together knowledge, understanding and skills of diverse issues centred upon the common theme of civil rights. The emphasis is on developing and interpreting a broad overview of the period studied, whilst also considering the validity of historical interpretations on specific topics within the theme being studied, therefore combining breadth and depth. The thematic study focuses on the struggle of citizens in the United States to gain equality before the law. This topic covers the following groups: African Americans; Trade Unions and Labour Rights; Native American Indians; Women. The depth study focuses on three distinct periods of history through civil rights in the USA: Civil rights in the ‘Gilded Age’ c.1875-c.1895; The New Deal and civil rights; Malcolm X and Black Power. Unit 4 is a non-examined assessment (NEA) that all students complete as part of the A Level (20%). This unit aims to bring together all the skills demonstrated across all three of the other units. This is a topic based essay which is independently researched. The essay focuses on three key areas: British female suffrage; The death of William II ‘Rufus’; The Vietnam War.
In Year 9, there is an opportunity for out of class learning through an optional residential trip to Ypres. This takes place in the summer term and provides the students with a chance to experience part of the KS3 course. The trip focuses on the key battlefields around the Ypres area, which was an important location of some major battles from WW1.
In Year 10, the students are offered the chance to take part in a residential trip to Berlin. The aim of this trip is to provide a cultural experience of a key place studied for two of the four units at GCSE.