The study of History helps pupils to better their understanding of the world they live in today and prepares them for the world they will face tomorrow. It is a subject which studies the behaviour of human beings and for that reason is complex, but totally absorbing. It provides an avenue for historical understanding and a life-long love of the past.
History develops the ability to use and evaluate sources, to analyse and interpret information. Pupils are taught how to formulate an argument and to present a clear, relevant and well-argued case. History broadens pupils' minds; wherever confident people, able to analyse and organise, understand and persuade, inform and enlighten are needed, there you will find a true historian.
The Department always tries to keep History at the forefront of our pupils’ minds, even beyond the classroom. There is a Junior History Society and an annual debating competition which allows historical enthusiasts to battle it out, mind-to-mind, with historians from other schools. We have also been known to give whole school assemblies, marking events such as International Women’s Day, when the members of the department are forced to vie for the votes of the student body in what can turn out to be savage contests.
History is a core subject for all pupils in the First to Third Forms (Years 7 to 9) with the purpose of providing a base for sound historical work and practice in later years. The approach is essentially chronological from the gory Middle Ages, to the triumphant Tudor dynasty, through to ‘Custer’s Last Stand’ in the American West and the conflicts of the twentieth century’s two World Wars.
The GCSE History course in the Fourth and Fifth Forms (Years 10 and 11) is highly popular and covers the main events which have influenced 20th century history with access to a rich vault of archive footage from the period. Pupils learn how past events have shaped the present and produced many of the problems that the world is forced to face now. The course covers International Relations since 1919, the Cold War, and a depth study of Germany 1918-45, covering Weimar and the rise of the Nazis and life under Nazi rule. Highlights are lessons such as the ‘Night of the Long Knives’ in the Rise of the Nazi Party, the ‘July Bomb Plot’ to kill Hitler and the moment when the world came closer than it has ever been to destruction in the Cuban Missile Crisis.
The A Level course offers pupils the opportunity to study History in breadth as well as in depth. In addition to that, it is a chance to hear some great stories! The ‘breadth’ is a comprehensive study of the world of England’s most famous dynasty, the Tudors, from 1485-1603 covering the rise of Henry VII, the dramatic reign of Henry VIII, the crisis of the mid-Tudor period and the ‘Golden Age’ of Elizabeth I. The ‘depth’ focuses on America: A Nation Divided 1845-1877 which explores a period of major change in American history - the disintegration of the country into two nations, the bloody struggle to save the union in the American Civil War and the subsequent attempts to reconstruct the nation. Finally, a Historical Investigation requires pupils to answer a question of their choice on the era in Russian history when the Romanov dynasty collapsed and the Communists gained a watertight grip on the country. This task provides an enhanced understanding of the nature and purpose of history as a discipline, as well as teaching vital skills such as research, planning and independent study.
History broadens the mind and creates many employment opportunities. It can form the entry route into such occupations as business, law, the Civil Service, journalism, politics and, of course, teaching. At the end of the day though, regardless of what career you choose on the back of your historical education, you’ll always have some great stories to tell!