Curriculum Statement: History
“Professor Johnston often said that if you didn't know history, you didn't know anything. You were a leaf that didn't know it was part of a tree. The purpose of history is to explain the present - to say why the world around us is the way it is. History tells us what is important in our world, and how it came to be. It tells us what is to be ignored, or discarded. That is true power - profound power. The power to define a whole society.”
The knowledge and skills that pupils will gain:
History is a subject rich in knowledge where students are able to immerse themselves in the world of the past beyond the premise of the classroom. Through the battlefields of the Somme to the Privy Council of Elizabeth I; students are able to evaluate and analyse the process of change, the relationships between groups of society, the causes and consequences of pivotal moments such as the Cuban Missile Crisis and even question the dramatic rise to power of Adolf Hitler. Students are engaged with a broad and diverse study of the History of Britain and the wider world, referencing evidence from contemporary sources and interpretations of Historians. Through using a wide-range of material students are able to reflect and to present independent opinions in arguments that are well-written, clearly expressed, coherently organised and effectively supported by relevant evidence. History is a subject rooted in a strong skill foundation which is implemented throughout KS3, 4 and 5 with a big focus taken on developing judgement and reasoning. Students are encouraged to not only step back and reflect on the aspects of change and continuity in a principal manner but also to develop a cohesive skill basis by evaluating the significance of an event, the pivotal moment of a turning-point, the transformation of a government or even the big question of why?
Curriculum features: continuity, progression and sequencing
Students undertake the GCSE course when they join TWBS in year 9 working through 4 modules until the end of year 11. The Edexcel GCSE specification aligns with the national curriculum which entails how “GCSE specifications should include history:
• from three eras: Medieval (500-1500), Early Modern (1450-1750) and Modern (1700-present day)
• on three time scales: short (depth study), medium (period study) and long (thematic study)
• on three geographical contexts: a locality (the historic environment); British; and European and / or wider world settings. British history must form a minimum of 40% of the assessed content over the full course.”
The History which students study at GCSE are linked to the topics studied earlier at KS2/3 as well as stemming to the options offered at A-Level in KS5. Throughout Year 9 students focus on ‘Warfare Through Time’, a long thematic study which spans from 1250-present evaluating change and continuity of a broad range of aspects of warfare such as recruitment, composition and tactics as well as a focus on London and the Blitz (National curriculum – a locality, the historic environment). This thematic study provides a good basis for the subsequent modules as it provides context and an understanding of chronology whilst incorporating British values with the heroic actions at the Somme and the Charge of the Light Brigade. In year 10 students continue their focus on British history by delving into the depths of politics and religion in Early Elizabethan England 1558-88 (British depth study). A topic which students are familiar with following on from studying the Tudors in first and middle school thus allowing them to develop and extend their knowledge and understanding. Students then go on to study a subsequent non-British depth study of Weimar and Nazi Germany, a source and interpretation led paper where the emphasis is on exam skills and evaluating why interpretations may differ and to what extent students agree or disagree with the viewpoint. This paper often introduces new topics which students haven’t studied before, especially with a large focus on political history however this provides a progressive link to the political aspects of the A-Level specification when looking at the rise and change of communist government in both the Soviet Union and China. This stemming to A-Level continues with the final module of the GCSE: Superpower relations and the Cold War (Modern period study) which provides an unfolding narrative evaluating the consequences and importance of key pivotal moments. This particular module sparks interest from students when looking at the leadership styles of Stalin through to Gorbachev who are then able to study it further at A-Level if they choose to.
At KS5 (A-Level) students are required to study topics from a chronological range of at least 200 years with a minimum of 20% of the course being British History. There must also be an aspect of change/ development analysed over a period of time sufficient to demonstrate understanding of the process of change, both long term and short term. At TWBS we have the same exam board (Edexcel) for both GCSE and A-Level as the specifications are designed to complement each other. This ensures sensible progression of content from GCSE to A Level and similar approaches to assessment which allows students to have a coherent and diverse experience of history when they study both qualifications under the same exam board. In Year 12 students complete the aspect of change and development modules when studying paper 1E, Russia, 1917-91: from Lenin to Yeltsin 48-49 and then 2E.1: Mao’s China, 1949–7. These two modules are taught alongside each other with different teachers teaching different aspects of the course, this particular structure allows students to cross compare between communist governments when studying the same themes. For example in Theme 2 students are studying the industrial plans of Stalin alongside Mao’s five year plans. Both paper 1 and 2 encompass a mixture of own knowledge based questions alongside interpretation and source based papers. This combination allows students to establish a criteria for judgement for knowledge based questions as well as evaluate the opinions and viewpoints of other historians on events such as the fall of the USSR. In Year 13 students focus on British History whilst studying paper 3 - Britain: losing and gaining an empire, 1763–1914; a paper which blends the evaluative and analytical skills that students acquire in year 12. Throughout the A-Level students are able to acquire an understanding of the nature of historical study, for example that history is concerned with judgements based on available evidence and that historical judgements are provisional. This notion of developing independent and effective students to be confident critical and reflective thinkers with curious and enquiring minds is extended in the final aspect of the A-Level which is the coursework module. Students study the American Civil Rights Movement in the USA 1954-1968 and complete an independent study based on Historical interpretations – a topic which is progressive from earlier studies on equality lower down in KS2 and KS3 such as Suffragettes. Students are able to organise and communicate their historical knowledge and understanding in different ways, arguing a case and reaching substantiated judgements. Students are forever encouraged to indulge in their enthusiasm for History and teachers regularly promote relatable history in the news and media – for example the latest film ‘The King’ on Netflix which refers to Henry V and the Battle of Agincourt; an aspect of the GCSE Warfare Through Time module.
Tradition, Excellence, Character, Co-Curriculum enrichment
The beauty of History is that it is all around and is easily accessible for all, from watching the film of Mary Queen of Scots to visiting the Armada painting in Greenwich. These opportunities are designed to develop students’ learning experience and their cultural understanding of the world around them. Past experiences have included a GCSE History trip to Berlin, where students explore the rich and powerful History that is centred around this capital city – the life of Germans under the Nazi regime and throughout the years of the Cold War. Past A-Level trips have included a trip to Boston USA to explore the roots of the Boston Tea Party and the influence of George Washington. The most recent trip to Beijing China allowed students to reflect on their knowledge of Mao’s China in Tiananmen Square as well as extend their knowledge further by looking at the History of Ancient China at the Summer Palace. We are geographically advantageous to have such fantastic resources nearby and have been fortunate to have visiting lecturers from UCL and St Mary’s University. A-Level students have also been on History of Action conferences in London which provide a brilliant opportunity to listen to guest speakers specialising on the leadership of Khrushchev and the Russian Civil War