The History Department is located on the first floor of the main building. It consists of two classrooms: the charming and traditional “Old Library” (B1) and a more contemporary classroom next door (B2). The department is very well resourced for those young scholars who wish to read beyond the departmental syllabi. In addition, we are committed to embracing modern teaching and learning methods that keep children focused and interested. In practice this means employing a variety of teaching tools including the internet, tablets and online documentaries alongside traditional resources such as primary documents and the interpretations of historians.
At Key Stage 3, the History Department believes it is important to teach “Our Island Story” whilst also exploring topics that go beyond the British Isles. To that end, pupils follow a chronological history of Britain in Year 7 from the Battle of Hastings in 1066 to the death of Queen Elizabeth I in 1603. In Year 8 pupils continue with a narrative account of Britain starting with the Gunpowder Plot. However, much of the year is devoted to one of the most important events in British history: the English Civil War. During the Summer Term, we leave England and explore the French Revolution. An incredibly important event in its own right, the examination of the French Revolution also allows pupils to draw many parallels with the English Civil War.
History in Year 9 mainly deals with Europe from the late 19th century to the end of the Second World War. Not only is this an exciting and engaging period to study, it also provides pupils with a sturdy foundation of historical knowledge which will help them significantly should they choose to study history at GCSE. Beginning with an investigation of the growth of the British Empire and the development of imperial rivalries, pupils go on to learn about the causes and events of the First World War. Pupils then debate whether the Treaty of Versailles was just and connect this treaty to the rise of Adolf Hitler. Finally, in the Summer Term, pupils study the Second World War including the Fall of France, the invasion of Soviet Russia and the Holocaust.
The history department leads several Key Stage 3 trips on a regular basis. Recent visits include Dunster Castle, the Torrington 1646 Museum and a four-day residential trip to the First World War Battlefields in France and Belgium. As part of this visit, students learn about Old Westbucklanders who saw service during the war.
History is a popular GCSE option. We follow the Edexcel International GCSE syllabus. Topics covered include Tsarist Russia, the Russian Revolution, the Cold War and the Changing Nature of Warfare in the 20th century. Assessment takes the form of two examinations at the end of Year 11. There is no controlled assessment component. A six day trip to the Russian cities of St. Petersburg and Moscow takes place every three years for students who study history at GCSE. This tour, which is truly exceptional, compliments the study of Russian history and the Cold War.
At Advanced Level students follow the Cambridge International Examinations (CIE) Syllabus. In Year 12, students study Italian and German unification, Revolutionary and Napoleonic France and the origins of the First World War. In Year 13, historical interpretations of the Holocaust and the dictatorships of Stalin and Hitler are explored. These are truly exciting topics on offer. They are not only interesting in their own right, but they also have had a huge influence, for better and for worse, in shaping our modern world. In essence, these topics go some way in helping students understand our present day. Similar to GCSE, there is no coursework component at Sixth Form. Instead, students sit two examinations at the end of Year 12 and two further examinations at the end of Year 13.