History is an endlessly fascinating and intriguing subject and its study is vital for understanding why the modern world is the way it is. Through a study of the past pupils develop knowledge of people, places, developments and trends over time and an understanding of the processes which bring about change. Through looking at the lives and experiences of people in the past pupils understand triumphs and tribulations and learn the importance of resilience. History also teaches pupils a wide range of transferable skills, vital to many occupations, and to coping in the modern world, such as critical thinking.
Since the merger of the three schools, the KS3 curriculum has been re-written to broaden and deepen pupils’ understanding of British, European and world history. The curriculum is generally organised chronologically, with pupils in Year 7 focusing on Mediaeval history from the Silk Roads through to the Renaissance, via England’s Mediaeval monarchs and late-Mediaeval crises. In Year 8 pupils look at early modern England, the development of parliament and slavery and empire. This leads into Year 9 work on the Industrial Revolution and then aspects of Twentieth Century history in both Britain and the wider world. Overall the aim is to give pupils a broad experience of different sorts of history, as well as providing those who choose to study the subject at GCSE a firm knowledge base on which to build. At GCSE pupils study five topics: The People’s Health 1250-2000, The Norman Conquest, Framlingham Castle, The Making of America 1789-1900 and Living Under Nazi Rule. The curriculum is regularly reviewed and currently we are working on adding greater diversity to the topics studied.
To view a copy of the History KS2-4 Learning Journey click here.
History is taught using a range of written and visual materials. Source analysis and evaluation is an important skill; this is developed throughout KS3 and GCSE. Other aspects of the discipline of history are also taught. For example, pupils are also taught how to structure answers, so that there is an argument, supported with evidence and an explanation of its relevance to the argument. This begins in Year 7, with support and scaffolding, and by the time pupils begin their GCSE course the practice is well-established. Pupils are assisted with this by homework tasks, many of which involve reading a piece of historical writing. This supports their reading generally, broadens or deepens their understanding of the topic and enables them to see how historians write.
Pupils are able to immerse themselves in the past in lessons and with homework tasks. Where possible, visits are organised to support this, such as the Year 10 field trip to Framlingham Castle.
To view a copy of the OCR History B (Schools History Project) curriculum click here.
Assessment in History
Pupils’ knowledge and writing is regularly assessed throughout. At KS3 this is always done at the end of a unit of work, and with longer units, part-way through as well (every 4 lessons or so). It is more frequent at GCSE. Teachers use their marking to identify gaps in knowledge and understanding and then address misconceptions through their teaching. With written work, weaknesses and issues are immediately picked up and then worked on in the next piece of work.
The curriculum is monitored in a variety of ways, with both pupils and teachers having a voice. Content is tweaked as required and the effectiveness of assessment, teaching and learning evaluated. Teachers believe whole-heartedly in life-long learning themselves and so seek to develop their own subject knowledge, as history is a subject that is revised and reinterpreted by scholars.