History is a key part of the Humanities Faculty and is taught with other Foundation subjects in Years 7 and 8. We are a passionate and innovative department.
Our history curriculum is designed to provide students with knowledge of the many histories that inform the lives of people in Britain today. The curriculum is designed to appeal to all students at Bishop Douglass School by investigating the histories of different social groups so that students can understand the history of many people in the British Isles. As part of this, students will be expected to understand conflicting historical arguments, critically analyse evidence and use this to inform their own judgement on historical topics. Running through this is an emphasis on literacy and numeracy. Essay writing and extensive reading are central to the history curriculum and are incorporated into our schemes of work. A history library and reading list is also available to students to support their literacy development access to academic texts. Opportunities for numeracy are built into lessons or incorporated into marking and day-to-day teaching.
The department benefits from three subject specialists and one trainee who each bring their own fields of expertise to the planning of lessons and the knowledge that can be shared with students. The department is a member of the Historical Association, History Today and staff members are participants in history teaching forums as well as being in contact with their colleagues across the academies trust.
History through the Key Stages
The Key Stage 3 curriculum is taught chronologically so that students can place themselves in the historical context (time and space) as much as possible. Students are provided with the skills needed for a historical student to analyse the utility of sources in context, to evaluate the merit of different historical interpretations and to cogently present evidence to support an argument.
The curriculum has been deliberately chosen to present our students with a broad range of subjects that will present the many histories that apply to people in Britain today. This includes subjects like the Roman conquest, the Reformation, life in America and Africa before and after the colonial slave trade and the impact of the Holocaust on Judaism in Europe. All schemes of work are under constant review and are allocated to a named member of staff for responsibility for review and improvement each year. The main aim is for each scheme of work to be focussed around an engaging enquiry upon which students can develop a depth of knowledge and understanding against which they can be assessed. Each scheme of work identifies a historical concept and focus, such as empire, cause and consequence or source analysis and these are assessed during teaching and at the end of the course. These skills are taught in a manner that can be built on at Key Stage 4 and Key Stage 5.
Given the importance of historical context to knowledge, much effort is put into linking the topics covered with those of other subjects. An example of this is the increase in lessons about Victorian Britain to allow more background to the Victorian works being discussed in English.
Key Stage 3
The Key Stage 3 course focuses on the development of essential skills such as chronology, concepts like empire, enquiry, interpretation and the use of evidence.
We provide a rich and varied History Curriculum at KS3 with students in Year 7 studying the Roman conquest and occupation of Britain, the Norman Conquest and life in medieval Britain and the role of Tudor monarchs in changing the lives of everyday people.
For year 8 pupils they will begin looking at how slavery changed life in West Africa and North America and its connection with the growth of empire before linking this to the Industrial Revolution that swept through Britain in the 18th and 19th centuries. Students will then examine the role of the Indian Raj in Britain’s imperialist phase before studying the two World Wars and the Holocaust (or Shoah). This scheme of work examines the lives of Jewish communities across Europe in the early 20th century before examining how the terrible events of the 1930s and 1940s virtually destroyed these ways of life.
History trips are an important part of engaging students and in recent years we have led trips to the Imperial War Museum, National Gallery, Banqueting House, Old Operating Theatre, Tower of London, Hampton Court, and Kenwood House.
Key Stage 4
The KS4 course aims to develop and extend knowledge and understanding of specified key events, periods and societies in local, British, and wider world history. It also enables pupils to engage in historical enquiry to develop as independent learners and as critical and reflective thinkers. We study the Edexcel GCSE syllabus and constantly strive to choose exciting new themes and topics for the pupils we teach. Throughout this year pupils will be studying The American West 1835–1895 which includes a fascinating study of the Plains Indian tribes of the American West, Elizabethan England 1558–88, medicine and public health in Britain from 1250 to the present day and a study in depth of Germany 1918-1945.
Key Stage 5
History is long regarded as a subject of weight and merit and is therefore a very popular choice at A Level. It is academic in nature yet teaches students many worthwhile skills such as analysis of text, the nature of argument and debate and of course, increases their subject knowledge on individual topics. In short, it creates independent learners. It is a good qualification for the professions: law, media, accountancy, journalism and public relations to name a few. The A level is composed of 3 units of study: Unit 1: Stuart Britain and the Crisis of Monarchy, 1603-1702, Unit 2: Democracy and Nazism: Germany 1918-1945 and Unit 3: Historical Investigation.
In recent years we have taken A Level students to the National Portrait Gallery, Banqueting House, Cromwell Museum, Royal Academy, Royal Collection and Audley End as part of their A Level in History in recent years. We are seeking to extend this to include ambassador trips to Auschwitz as well this year.
Trips for history students are organised for all year groups. Destinations in recent years have included the Imperial War Museum, National Portrait Gallery, British Museum, Cromwell Museum, the Banqueting House, Audley End, Houghton House, the World War I Battlefields, Tower of London, Royal Academy, Royal Collection and Kenwood House. The department has added a trip to the Old Operating Theatre, Golden Hind and Tate Modern for 2019/20. Trips are linked to the curriculum but also the wider benefit to students, such as taking them to the Houses of Parliament. Finally, we have for many years sent two sixth form students to Auschwitz. This opportunity with the Lessons for Auschwitz programme also enables these students to present their trip across the school to disseminate their knowledge.
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