‘A people without the knowledge of their past history, origin and culture is like a tree without roots.’
Staff and facilities
The History Department is led by Mrs E Thomas. She is supported by four further teachers. It is a well resourced department in terms of textbooks and historical expertise.
For Year Groups 7-11 Course Guides are provided to outline course content, assessment, terminology, further useful reading, suggested historical sites to visit etc.
Years 10 & 11 Parent & Student Information Booklets
Year 9 students who are studying History are invited to join the World War One Battlefield Trip which runs during the summer term. During the trip students are provided with an opportunity to witness first-hand the legacy of the First World War. The trip focuses on the battles in the Ypres Salient and we alternate each year between the first day of the Somme Offensive (1 July 1916) and sites in and around Arras.
Every other year a trip to Berlin and Krakow is open to those in Years 12/13. Both these trips enhance and support areas of the curriculum covered in Key Stages3, 4 and 5. Two Sixth Form students are also provided with the opportunity to participate in the ‘Lessons from Auschwitz Project’ coordinated by the Holocaust Educational Trust.
We also organise numerous other enrichment events throughout the academic year for example GCES and Sixth Form historians have the chance to participate in the Great Debate, KS3 students have had the opportunity to hear Michael Rosen speak about his most recent book The Missing, students have attended various exhibitions at the Bodleian Library and attended Oxford University-led workshops.
During the academic year, we also run a number of House Competitions, including historical debates and public speaking as well as written historical fiction. Several of the competitions are linked to the Historical Association, Local Historical Places and Cambridge University.
Easter Challenge – Hard Boiled History! – Take a look at some of the entries!
Key Stage 3
History is a compulsory subject at Key Stage 3 with three lessons over a fortnight taught in Year 7 and Year 9 and four lessons a week in Year 8. Lesson sequences are based around enquiry questions such as ‘How far had Benin experienced a ‘golden age’ by 1700?’ and ‘How did the meaning of ‘government’ change for the people of Britain c1600-c1900?’ ‘ These enquiries culminate in outcome tasks which include essays, spoken presentations, memorial designs, group projects and the writing of historical narratives. Below is an outline of some of the enquiries students will encounter across Key Stage 3.
At the start of Year 7 students are introduced to key substantive concepts such as kingship, society, revolution, liberty, and feudalism and second order concepts which help us organise the process of studying history including cause and consequence, change and continuity and significance. Students then investigate these different enquiries during the course of the year:
- What is History?
- What was England like before 1066?
- Why did William win the Battle of Hastings?
- How did William take control of England?
- Why was the church so important in people’s lives?
- Why risk death to defend the church?
- When were Jews in most danger in medieval England?
- Were Becket and Henry always enemies?
- Could a medieval monarch do whatever they wanted?
- How did England compare to other powers in the Middle Ages?
- Who mattered most in medieval society?
- To what extent had the world changed as a result of the Silk Roads by 1400?
- Why did the peasants revolt in 1381?
Year 8 starts with an overview of the period 1485-1900. Some of the concepts from Year 7 are further explored, building on students’ ideas of continuity and change, cause and consequence. During this year students learn to handle source work and evidence more rigorously. Enquiry questions students will encounter in Year 8 include:
- How turbulent was Tudor society?
- How did Miranda Kauffman uncover the hidden lives of Black Tudors
- Why did the King and parliament go to war in 1642?
- How similar were the experiences of soldiers and civilians in the Civil War?
- Why were kings back in fashion by 1660?
- How different were the attitudes of the colonised and colonisers?
- How revolutionary was the Industrial Revolution
- What was it like to be involved in the slave trade?
- How did the meaning of ‘government’ change for the people of Britain c1600-c1900?
Year 9 starts with an overview of the period 1900-present day. Enquiry questions students will encounter in Year 9 include:
- 20th Century: What do you know?
- How safe was it to live in Britain during the Edwardian age?
- Two Bullets & Twenty Million Deaths: Why did a murder lead to war in 1914?
- What motivated men to continue fighting in the trenches?
- To what extent was WWI a ‘World War’?
- How fair was the Treaty of Versailles?
- What’s the story of Votes for Women in Oxford?
- How did new ideas cause conflict?
- How was the Second World War won?
- What was the Holocaust?
- Why did the sun set on the British Empire?
- Why is the Middle East in the news so much?
- How have black people struggled against injustice in Britain in the 20th century?
Key Stage 4 – Edexcel GCSE History
Almost half of each year group choose to take History at GCSE. Students follow the Edexcel GCSE course and are required to be self-disciplined throughout. GCSE lessons are very varied including discussion, debates, source analysis, documentaries, human timelines, simulations and role play, using historical scholarship and plenty of support with exam practice to ensure students have every opportunity to reach their potential.
Students study the following units during the two years:
- Paper 1: Crime and punishment in Britain, c1000–present and Whitechapel, c1870–c1900: crime, policing and the inner city.
Paper 1 gives students the opportunity to study the changing nature of crime and punishment from the medieval period to the present day. Students examine aspects such as the ‘hue and cry’, witchcraft, the Gunpowder plotters and the development of the Metropolitan Police Force.
- Paper 2: British Depth Study – Option B4 Early Elizabethan England, 1558-88
The British Depth Study allows students to examine the challenges that Elizabeth I, the Virgin Queen, faced due to her gender, her marriage and plots against her both at home and abroad. Students also have an opportunity to delve into the world of Elizabethan exploration and new technologies.
- Paper 2: Period Study: Option 26/27 – Superpower relations and the Cold War, 1941–91
Through the Period Study, students will examine the origins, development and ending of the Cold War from the division of Berlin, to the Cuban Missile Crisis, Olympic boycotts and the significance of the fall of the Berlin Wall.
- Paper 3: Modern Depth Study: Option 31 – Weimar and Nazi Germany, 1918–39
In this enquiry students will examine the problems faced by the Weimar Republic and the context of Hitler’s rise to power. Students investigate the impact of the Nazi dictatorship including the introduction of the Hitler Youth and the persecution of the Jews.
Key Stage 5 – Edexcel A-level History
In Year 12 students study Britain, c1785–c1870: democracy, protest and reform and the unification of Germany, c1840–71. Studying two different countries allows students to develop a greater appreciation of the nature of power and authority in the given period, and to understand the similarities and contrasts between them.
In Year 13, Civil rights and race relations in the USA, 1850–2009 are studied. This gives students a chance to explore developments that have shaped contemporary America and remain a fundamental issue in US society: the changing pattern of race relations between black and white Americans, both in terms of civil rights and also broader social and cultural changes over a period that began with millions of black Americans in slavery and ended with Barack Obama as President.
Coursework forms a part of Year 13. The aim of this is to enable students to develop skills in the analysis and evaluation of interpretations of history in a chosen question, problem or issue as part of an independently researched assignment. The focus is on understanding the nature and purpose of the work of the historian. Students have to form a critical view based on relevant reading on the question, problem or issue. They are specifically required to analyse, explain and evaluate the interpretations of three historians. Students are given the opportunity to choose their own focus for their coursework.
Key Stage 5 – OCR AS Ancient History
Why choose Ancient History?
The OCR Ancient History course will enable you to broaden your horizons and develop your understanding of the ancient world and its legacy in today’s society. The ancient worlds of Greece and Rome set into motion many societal practises and values which still exist in some form or other in today’s social climate. The responses of societies to complex political, social and economic challenges, the issues of justice, discrimination and violence were as much part of the ancient world as they are of ours. Studying Ancient History will equip you with a wide range of transferable skills including the ability to critically evaluate evidence, including ancient sources such as Herodotus’ Histories, structure coherently argued essays and debate effectively.
Ancient History is an engaging subject which requires academic vigour as well as independent thinking and enthusiasm. The process of historical inquiry will involve students developing their abilities to critically analyse, develop a questioning and inquisitive nature and the ability to evaluate ancient sources and interpretations.
What will you study and how will you be assessed?
- The OCR Ancient History AS Level is taught over two years as part of the Extended Curriculum in the Sixth Form. You will have three lessons across the fortnight.
- There are two units which make up the course which are both equally weighted.
- In Year 12 we study Unit 1: Relations between Greek and non-Greek states. In this Greek period study, the focus will be on the unfolding narrative of the relations between Greek city-states and the relationship between Greek city-states and the Persian Empire in the period 492–404 BC. We begin with an introduction to the ancient Greeks and then examine how the tumultuous relationship between Persia, Sparta, Athens and other Greek city states unfolded during this period.
- In Year 13 we study Unit 2: Julio-Claudian Emperors. The Roman period study will focus on the unfolding narrative of the establishment and development of the principate under Augustus, Tiberius, Gaius, Claudius and Nero. We consider to what extent these emperors are deserving of their titles: ‘Revered One’, ‘Cruel Despot’, ‘Savage Monster’, ‘Fool’ and ‘Scoundrel’. There will be a particular focus on the military, social, religious and political issues and developments of the emperors in Rome and the Empire and their treatment by the ancient sources.
- You will sit external exams in both units in Year 13. Both exams are worth 60 marks and consist of 1-hour 30minute papers. Both source-based studies requiring analysis and evaluation of ancient historians such as Herodotus, Thucydides, Suetonius, Dio & Plutarch.
What are the course entry requirements?
Grade 5 in GCSE English Language. Studying History at GCSE is preferable but not a necessity.