History offers a series of fascinating stories that give us an insight into the nature of the human condition.
Whatever period of history we study, and at whatever level, we can find examples to inspire and repulse us in equal measure. This quality makes history both compulsive and interesting. We can see the best and the worst of human society; we are given an insight into the most principled and honourable behaviour and the most cynical and barbarous. We learn that good intentions, and indeed bad intentions, do not necessarily produce the end results that might be expected. We learn that accident can be as significant as intention and that what people deserve is not necessarily what they get.
In terms of skills, history is a very useful subject: it teaches and helps to develop the key skills of comprehension, critical analysis, interpretation and effective debate. Many careers hinge on these key skills: investment and financial services; police work; journalism; legal professions; personnel management; and many more.
At Finborough, the history curriculum follows a loosely chronological framework through Years 7, 8, 9 with a balance between British and European/wider world themes. Just as important is a balance between the types of history – political, economic and social, and the history of ideas. Our aim is to provide the following key ‘ingredients’ within each theme:
- An interesting and stimulating story
- Opportunities to develop the ‘passive’ skill of comprehension and understanding
- Opportunities to develop the active skills of analysis, interpretation, argument and communication
Some of the themes we pursue within the curriculum at Key Stage 3 include:
- Conflict and power – the story of 1066, conflict between Kings and Barons, The Wars of the Roses, Civil War, the making of the United Kingdom, Revolution in France and America, World War One and World War Two.
- Social and economic development – life for the peasant in the Middle ages, the development of towns, crime and punishment, changes in trade, exploration, a study on the development of London, the impact of the Industrial Revolution.
- Ideas and beliefs – conflicts between church and state, the reformation, development of science, rival political ideas – democracy, communism and fascism
It is important that pupils see and experience directly and, for that reason, we organise trips. Below is a selection of the trips we have carried out over the last few years, a few we are planning, and that have involved students from this Key Stage:
- Kentwell Hall Tudor life recreation days – a chance to dress up and get a hands on experience of life in the time of Elizabeth I
- Norwich Cathedral and Castle – exploring the technology of medieval buildings and the importance of religious ideas. We have also taken trips to Ely, Framlingham Castle and Orford Castle
- London – visits to St Paul’s Cathedral, Tower of London, a walking tour of the Great Fire key sites and the Museum of London
- Medieval reconstruction day and birds of pray demonstration held at Stonham Barns
- The Battlefields of the Somme – residential trip to Northern France including a day spent in Paris
- D-Day landings – residential trip to Normandy with a day spent in Rouen
- Bletchley Park and the National Museum of computing – planned history/science/computer science trip
- Duxford Imperial War Museum – history of military and civil aviation development
GCSE Key Stage 4
The same key skills of analysis, interpretation, argument and communication developed throughout Key Stage 3 are further refined at GCSE level. There is a focus on investigation and using and interpreting evidence to support argument and conclusions.
In terms of content, the focus is on the development of the Modern World. There is a good balance between history focused on Britain, on Europe and on the wider world. Themes include:
- The causes of poverty in 19/20th century Britain and how efforts have been made to overcome it.
- The struggle of women to win the right to vote
- The impact of World War One on Britain
- The failure to win the peace after World War One and the causes of World War Two
- The impact of International Terrorism
- German Depth Study 1918-45, including the rise to power of the Nazis and the Hitler State 1933-45
- The GCSE assessment is based upon exams and a piece of controlled assessment work – a historical enquiry. All students will develop the following key skills:
- The ability to explain effectively and support explanation with relevant material and evidence
- The ability to critically assess evidence – how useful and reliable it is
- The ability to organise and communicate a good argument – supported by reason.
- The ability to investigate and report conclusions effectively.
The GCSE history groups previously visited:
- The Somme Battlefields and Paris
- Duxford Imperial War Museum
- The Houses of Parliament
- The Cabinet War Rooms in London
- HMS Belfast