We seek to do all we can to ensure that all pupils studying History are routinely stretched appropriately, that they take increasing responsibility for their own learning and that, by these means, we empower them to discern and appreciate the benefits of studying the past in a fast changing world.
In the History Department we seek to nourish and develop all the attributes of the academic historian, ranging from the ability to narrate detailed and complex chronologies, such as events in Russia in 1917 and the actions of the House of Commons 1640 – 1642, to demonstrating the capacity to interrogate a source. After all, if a scholar cannot think of a question to ask a source then that source forever remains silent in the same way that a suspect in a murder trial does not have to describe his whereabouts if not asked ‘So, where were you on the night of the murder?’ Our aim is to equip pupils to engage with the past and for them to develop the wherewithal to ask their own questions of the material they encounter, and by so doing to deepen and extend their own intellectual curiosity.
Fourth Form (Year 9)
We have developed a new and exciting Fourth Form course that ranges widely in time and territory and exposes pupils to such topics as Black African American Civil Rights, Jack the Ripper, the assassination of JFK, the development of warfare from 1250c and the story of the emergence of rights for women – to list just a few of the available topics.
Our GCSE pupils follow the Cambridge IGCSE History 0470 course, studying Option B (the 20th century: International Relations since 1919) accompanied by a Depth Study of Germany, 1918 – 1945. In studying the international relations part of the course, pupils consider how the peace was created in 1919 how within a very short period of time, Europe was engulfed in another conflict. We then moved to the Origins of the Cold War, through to America’s involvement in the Korean War, the Cuban Missile Crisis and the Vietnam War. In the process pupils engage in historical controversy, including Chamberlain’s low historical reputation, American responsibility for causing the Cold War and Kennedy’s role in the Cuban Missile Crisis. For the depth study on Germany we consider the perennial question of how a country that produced Beethoven and Bach also fell prey to the fatal allure of Adolf Hitler.
In the Eighth Form, students prepare for the OCR A level course which ranges from domestic politics and economics focused on London and Washington D.C. to consider imperial entanglements in the West Indies, Latin America, Europe, and East Asia. We also look carefully at cultural history. Pupils are taught how to engage with such conceptual categories as race, gender, and religion; there are plenty of opportunities to blend insights from neighbouring disciplines.
The OCR course exposes our pupils to what we consider is the best available history curriculum. It emphasises breadth as well as depth of learning and teaching, demands that pupils learn how to work effectively with a range of source materials, and insists that they undertake a serious piece of independent research on a topic of their choice. The course has four components, all of which are examined at the end of the two-year course
There are a number of History societies. The Senior History Society invites speakers every Monday lunchtime. Papers are delivered by distinguished academics, members of staff and the pupils. The Society also meets on Tuesday afternoons after school to discuss an article that has been sent by a member of the department. There is also a pupil-led seminar on issues that are not considered fully in the curriculum, including LGBT history and the history of Witchcraft, a reading group and a regular session before school which looks at the Oxford and Cambridge entrance tests.
In partnership with the Politics Department there is a society for Fourth Form pupils and a meeting of keen Sixth Form pupils who wish to go beyond IGCSE.
The department also goes on many trips. There is a Fourth Form trip to the Battlefields, Sixth Form trip to Moscow and St Petersburg and a Lower Eighth trip to the United States which includes Washington, Memphis and Louisiana.