Introducing History at QEHS
History is a fascinating subject, full of interesting people, places, events and colourful stories about the lives of others before us. It is the belief of the department that the lives’ of everyone who studies the past will be enriched for knowing about the influences that have shaped their lives and which makes them the people they are. Knowing about the past is a rewarding and fruitful study which offers a window on different times and places and where people lived much different lives to our own. Sharing our heritage is essential to the education of every child if we are to develop our students into mature, considerate adults, capable of forming their own opinions and making decisions about their life with surety and understanding.
Learning History has relevance for all pupils regardless of age, gender, ethnicity or ability. Provision is made for all students to be able to learn about History at Queen Elizabeth Humanities College.
What we teach in History:
The study of History in both Key Stage 3 and 4 aims to:
- Develop an understanding of what people thought and felt and how they behaved in certain historical situations
- Encourage an understanding of societies with different ideas and values based upon the experiences of both men and women in those societies
- Develop an understanding of how and why change occurs and how that change is not necessarily progressive or continuous
- Provide an experience of the range and variety of historical issues and interpretations
- Develop critical thinking skills based upon a wide variety of historical sources
Key Stage 3:
During Key Stage Three pupils follow a broadly chronological framework through which we study different themes in History using a series of Big and Little questions to fuel out enquiries. They explore a wide range of sources and media and the skills they develop prepare them well to meet the requirements of Key Stage Four.
In Year 7 we examine the lives of ordinary people in the medieval period and consider why people travelled half way around the world to fight in a holy war. We also look at the story of Royal Power and find out why Castle design changed.
In Year 8 we move on to the Tudors and Stuarts, exploring the changes that took place between 1500 and 1900 in what people believed, how they were ruled and how they lived their lives. We also cross the Atlantic to investigate the impact of the Slave Trade.
Year 9 focuses on the 20th century. We look at the impact of the two World Wars and Cold War. Pupils then have the opportunity to make their own ‘Twentieth Century Picks’ to pursue an independent enquiry.
Key Stage Four:
Our students follow OCR’s J410 History A (Explaining the Modern World) course. The course is assessed by three examinations: Paper 1 (International Relations 1918-2001 and a Non-British Depth Study on Germany 1925-1955) which is worth 50% of their final mark; Paper 2 (British Thematic Study: 1000-2014) which is worth 25% of their final mark and Paper 3 (Historic Environment Study: Castles and a British Depth Study: The English Reformation 1520-1550) which is worth 25% of their final mark.
Extra-Curricular Opportunities in History:
At Key Stage Four, our Modern World History GCSE Students attend an annual revision conference in Bristol run by Schools History Scene. They also visit Goodrich Castle to prepare for Paper 3 on Castles.
At Key Stage Three, our students have been on a range of trips from St Fagans, the Big Pit and Berrington Hall. These trips are run as a cross-curricular opportunity with the whole Humanities Faculty. We will be taking Year 7 this year to Ludlow Castle to link in with the GCSE requirement on Castle development.
There is also the opportunity for students to participate in a residential trip which is run jointly with Modern Languages where we visit France and Belgium for both cultural visits to develop their language skills and Ypres and Somme battlefields. It is a popular trip and is usually run alternate years.
Two of our Year 9 students also went on the government funded IOE Battlefields trip to the Somme and Ypres which they found not only very moving but also beneficial to their studies.
We have recently set up links with Bromyard History Society as a result of our IOE Battlefield trip and are looking forward to the opportunities that this will bring to our students.
SMSC in History
History is heavily focussed on people and their relationships and as such we are in a great position to contribute to students’ Spiritual, Moral, Social and Cultural education. In every lesson, students are expected either to consider the needs and experiences of others, or their own personal responses to events, problems and changes. We also encourage students to discuss and debate controversy outside the classroom. At times this is in a formal setting like educational visits or homework at KS4 and ISTs at KS3, but also we expect the study of History to affect positively the way students live their daily lives. We encourage young people to enquire, consider and question in lessons and beyond.
Spiritual Development in History:
A good sense of curiosity is central to the study of History at this is strongly encouraged in class. Lessons adapt according to students’ current knowledge and thirst for more. Recently, a simulation on World War One led students to ask why the war started and to work out why so many countries became involved.
Spiritual development is encouraged regularly by providing students with opportunities to appreciate intangible concepts. The idea of truth is central to all History lessons that use sources. The nature of historical truth based on personal memoir was particularly explored following a visit by where students heard from and spoke with a Holocaust survivor who had come to Britain via Kinder Transport.
A strong feature of History lessons is the encouragement pupils receive from each other as well as from their teachers in relating their learning to a wider frame of reference by persistently asking ‘how?’ and ‘why?’ The introduction to the study of History in Year 7 begins with an object handling session which encourages them to work out the identity of a mystery person.
A good understanding of the importance of values and beliefs is well developed during GCSE History through a number of case studies from why Henry VIII split from Rome to the Civil War with an analysis of Cromwell – hero or villain?
Spiritual development is encouraged regularly by providing pupils opportunities to appreciate intangible concepts. The idea of truth is central to all History lessons that use sources. Order and beauty, and differing interpretations of these, also form a part of GCSE when assessing Nazi government and propaganda.
A sense of empathy is consistently extended in lessons. History demands an understanding of others, such as that of women in WW1 during Year 11 and the experiences of Black Americans during their struggle for Civil Rights in 1950s and 60s America.
Moral Development in History:
History also lends itself well to supporting the moral education and development of young people. Whole school assemblies led by the History staff encourage students to reflect on their personal values, principles and actions, in the light of historical events and commemorations. This year, this was strongly examined in two trips to the First World Battlefields: one was the IOE government funded trip that was attended by two Year 9 students and a member of staff which traced several themes and moral questions. We then based a lot of the research and lessons learned from this trip to form the basis of our own Key Stage 3 trip to the Battlefields.
Moral questions form a key part of many of the modules students undertake in History. For example, students discuss and attempt to come to a consensus on who was more to blame for the Holocaust; Hitler, the Nazi Party or the German people in Year 9. Notions of right and wrong were explored in this session and throughout the course as students grapple with the nature of conformity and complicity. A popular case study with students is to look at First World War soldiers who were shot for cowardice and they focus particularly on the case of Harry Farr.
Social Development in History:
Social issues and the needs of different groups of people are also common themes that are explicitly recognised on a regular basis, such as in the study of the experiences of women in Britain during the 19thand 20th centuries, covered in GCSE History.
The position of African Americans is thoroughly debated in Year 11 and forms the basis of our students’ Controlled Assessment in GCSE Modern History.
Students’ ability to exercise leadership and demonstrate responsibility is promoted through team learning activities in many History lessons. Sharing understanding, knowledge and ideas is crucial in order that students make informed, well-reasoned arguments that are based on fact. The staff regularly employ a range of strategies and activities to facilitate these discussions and collaborations.
The Year 11 History curriculum demands an understanding of the British political system and Liberal Reforms. Students regularly compare the key issues and debates of the 19th and 20th centuries, such as education, public health and democracy, with our concerns today.
Cultural Development in History:
Cultural appreciation and understanding is fundamental to learning in History across all key stages. Students are presented with authentic accounts of cultures as diverse as Ancient Rome, Greece and Egypt (GCSE Ancient History) and Vietnam (Year 11).
The contribution of different cultures to human development and progress is also explored and studied, especially in the Year 7 and 11 (Ancient History) which considers the role of the Christian Church, the Muslim World and Ancient cultures had on the development of medicine and warfare for example.
Much of the History curriculum in year 9 and at GCSE explicitly teaches students an appreciation of the influences that have shaped their own cultural heritage in Britain. The two World Wars and the key changes brought about by these events are key. For example, a debate about the ‘Dunkirk spirit’ engages students in the nature of Britishness.
Our Year 9 IST about a significant individual also encourages students to reflect on their own cultural assumptions and values.
The History curriculum offers students opportunities to express their opinions and communicate their knowledge in varied ways from Years 7 to 11, including artistic and cultural forms. Homework about the nature of trench warfare and Castle development have taken the form of artwork and models and the role of individuals through the use of social media and our “History Handbags”.