‘History is usually presented as a set of facts and dates of victories and defeats, or monarchs and presidents, consigned to an unchanging past. But it’s not like that at all. History is the knitting together of rival interpretations: deliberate manipulations of the truth and sometimes alternative facts.’ Dr Lucy Worsley
Choice of content:
- Selection of topics that together form an understanding of the core developments that served to establish Britain in its modern form. This includes the history and emergence of Fundamental British Values, the establishment of Britain’s constitution and political structures, as well as significant social developments.
- Development of themes including revolution, social change, empire, the significance of conflict in shaping the modern world, and the role of key individuals, as well encouraging students to draw links between different topics and time periods.
- Coverage of time periods which allow students to consider different periods of history, draw comparisons within and between time periods as well as consider how different time periods and moments in History have shaped the modern world.
In the words of the National Curriculum, within the KS3 content framework students should:
“identify significant events, make connections, draw contrasts, and analyse trends within periods and over long arcs of time. They should use historical terms and concepts in increasingly sophisticated ways. They should pursue historically valid enquiries including some they have framed themselves, and create relevant, structured and evidentially supported accounts in response. They should understand how different types of historical sources are used rigorously to make historical claims and discern how and why contrasting arguments and interpretations of the past have been constructed.” (National Curriculum 2013 DfE)
The department adds to this a strong focus on both oral and written communication with students from the start of year 7 being expected to plan structure and deliver extended sections of historical writing which build to a substantiated conclusion / judgement. The other main focus is on the development of source analysis skills – making inferences from content and making judgements of reliability through considering source accuracy and provenance.
At Key Stage 4 and 5 whilst the guiding intent is the exam board specification, options have been selected to provide a rounded experience as well as develop important aspects of knowledge. By the end of Year 10 pupils will have a detailed knowledge of Russia in the period 1894-1945, including events such as the Russian Revolution and the establishment of a communist dictatorship. They will also study the Cold War from 1945-72 and through this better understand the world we live in today through coverage of topics like the building of the Berlin Wall and the Cuban Missile Crisis. Through year 11 students study Edward I and also a unit on Peoples and Migration which looks at topics as diverse as Viking Raiders to the establishment of Empire to more modern migration in the latter 20th Century. This unit in particular supports students understanding of the formation of British Society and an understanding of Fundamental British Values. These topics are build on at A-Level with further Units on the Rise of Fascism and Britain’s Experience of Warfare.
It is a core expectation that all lessons and wider resourcing has effective provision for students with SEN so that they are able to make equal progress to their peers. Teachers have a strong knowledge of their classes and the needs of individual students, adapting questioning, support, and seating plans accordingly. SEN data is analysed and used to inform planning and interventions where necessary. The History curriculum has been designed to ensure that it is accessible to all students. Key terminology, themes and concepts are regularly revisited and the deliberate interleaving of topics ensures this takes place. This, combined with the retrieval practice exercises that take place each lesson ensure that key terms and concepts are regularly revisited. In addition, in order to support learners, in KS3 (and where necessary KS4) sentence builders are often used to ‘chunk learning’ and to enable students to formulate clear sentences. The “S” function is used to support students needing additional support with particular tasks/topics.
Extended writing is carefully planned and scaffolded, with use of writing frames where appropriate. These are available for use in lessons and are shared on the GC for use at home. Assessments do not cap student performance, so therefore they are both accessible and allow students to demonstrate high levels of ability. Chromebooks have been integrated into lessons, allowing students to complete tasks at their own pace and allowing students to revisit work. The department endeavours to accommodate students who need special arrangements for sitting internal exams and assessments. Disability is also represented within the curriculum, specifically looking at Victorian attitudes to disability and the experiences of disabled people.
Literacy in History
Literacy is of central importance to the SJWMS History curriculum. This can be divided into two main areas: i) the developing student knowledge and use of subject terminology ii) improvement in students’ written communication skills.
Historical terminology is integral to all History lessons, including disciplinary terminology (e.g. “source” vs “interpretation”) and terminology specific to the topic at hand (e.g. “containment” or “detente” for the KS4 cold war module). The KS3 curriculum is in part designed to develop student understanding of abstract terms such as “imperialism” and “democracy”. Students’ written and oral responses are expected to make use of historical terminology and to use this terminology with precision. Terminology is specifically highlighted in lesson materials and in recall tasks. Procedural knowledge is also emphasised, e.g. students using “source” and “interpretation” accurately.
Literacy skills are a central tenet of the learning process in History and are instrumental to the acquisition of disciplinary and substantive knowledge. Oracy, listening, questioning, engaging in discussion and debate, scrutinising sources and formulating judgements are all vital components of this. Student written communication skills are a consistent focus through all key stages. Measures include:
- From the start of KS3 an intensive focus on paragraph structuring. Students are encouraged to use a Point Evidence Explain Link structure for their paragraphs. This is often modelled during planning, and is a core focus of group EBI tasks.
- Extended writing is used for all assessment tasks. Significant lesson time is devoted to modelling effective planning and structuring for these tasks, as well as reflection.
- Classwork emphasises the development of literacy. Students are expected to answer questions in full sentences and to explain their reasoning.
- Teachers model the use of precise historical language when teaching as well as impressing the need for students to replicate this in the verbal and written work.
- SPaG marking is an important part of the marking of homework and assessed tasks at all key stages.
- At KS5 students are provided with additional resources and direction to read widely into specialised literature.
The department largely takes a chronological approach to the teaching of History, but Year 8 takes a more themed approach within this chronological framework to provide a different perspective and allow for comparisons to be drawn between different elements.
The National Curriculum at Key Stage 3 in England requires students to cover British history from 1066 to present, as well as a world study, a local study and a chronological unit of study that will reach back before 1066 to consolidate knowledge and understanding. The SJWMS curriculum seeks to match and exceed the breadth and depth of topics covered.
Current topics taught are,
Year 7 – Mesopotamia, Normans and Medieval Realms
Year 8 – Reformation, English Civil War, French Revolution, Empire and Significant historical figures of 18th-21st century
Year 9 – Causes WW1, WW1, Hitler, Causes WW2, Holocaust, 1960s and Civil Rights
Year 10 / 11 – Tsarist and Communist Russia, Cold War, Edward I, and Migration, Empires & the people
Year 12/13 – Germany 1918-89, Rise of Fascism, and Britain and Experience of Warfare
The department has no specific prescribed approach to the teaching of History which enables individual teachers to make the most of their own skills, abilities and professional judgement. However, there are common ways in which the curriculum is implemented across the department.
- Staff has excellent subject knowledge. All members are subject specialists.
- Lessons use appropriately challenging resources and go beyond a mere factual recounting of History.
- Students are regularly given challenging in depth tasks requiring them to work independently and/or with others as appropriate.
- Lessons engage students and encourage them to form their own judgement, welcoming a range of judgements and perspectives. Students are encouraged to question, offer opinions and explore.
- Skills are developed for wider study, including revision and retrieval of knowledge, focusing on the developing of understanding and long term memory.
- Assessment – in the form of teacher assessed or peer assessed work – that informs teaching and gives pupils feedback on the success of the work they have carried out,
- Homework is set regularly, in line with school expectations. Tasks are substantial and make a meaningful contribution to the programme of study – including individual or group project work, research, and revision. At KS3 one homework per term is graded using the department’s homework mark scheme.
- The explanation and use of key technical vocabulary is embedded from the start of Y7, with the expectation that students understand and use this terminology with confidence as they progress in their studies.
- The deliberate development of literacy skills, with high expectations of students’ spelling, punctuation and grammar, tasks that push students to write confidently and precisely, and activities in which pupils engage with appropriately challenging texts and source material.
- Development of explicit conceptual links between topics and year groups, for example historical interpretations of individuals (King John Year 7, Saladin Year 7, Oliver Cromwell Year 8, and Field Marshal Haig Year 9).
- SEN provision effectively meets the individual needs of students, ensuring that they have equal access to learning and progress.
Retrieval Practice is embedded within the department’s schemes of work and specific lessons. Previous topics are regularly and deliberately revisited (either in low stakes classwork / homework or in higher stakes exams and assessments) to ensure that students are required to recall previous topics to push them into long term memory and to form links with prior learning.
Assessment in Y7 and 8 is divided into the basic skills of source analysis, causation, significance and interpretation – assessments are graded on a ‘best fit’ mark scheme that focuses on the expected level of progress/ability for each core skill. Assessments comprise a range of structured and open activities designed to give students wide experience of Historical skills. In Year 9 whilst students do not begin GCSE courses assessment moves towards more GCSE styled assessment to prepare for the move to KS4. At Key Stage 4 and Key Stage 5 formal assessments mirror the forms of assessment students will face in their GCSE and A level exams.
Beyond formal assessment, at Key Stage 3 work is assessed regularly, in line with school policy and focuses on developing a range of skills and knowledge as set out in the ‘intent’ section.
The department provides students with a number of trips designed to complement and enhance engagement with their studies. In year 7 students visit Dover castle as part of their study of the middle ages and also as part of their engagement with local history. At KS4 and KS5 students also attend academic conferences designed to enhance their understanding of current historical debates and access leading academic study. Trips to Portsmouth Historic Dockyard and the First World War battlefields in Y13 aim to enhance the teaching of the British Experience of War course.
The impact of the curriculum can be seen through a number of measures:
- Pupils clearly enjoy their history, as shown through their approach to lessons, the work in their books and their commitment to its study.
- Students have a sound foundation of Historical knowledge by the end of Key Stage 3 which contributes to their understanding of their place in the world and also why the world they live in has been shaped in the way it has.
- Internal assessment processes demonstrate that pupils effectively develop both Historical knowledge and skill that they can later utilise and develop.
- Formative assessment of reasoning, particularly related to fundamental questions such as causation and interpretation show pupils ability to adopt and use these skills.
- Students are able to communicate clearly and effectively connections between modern Britain and historical events that they have been taught about.
- SEN and disadvantaged students achieve outcomes in line with their peers.
- Cognitive techniques and wider study skills are developed by the department, particularly in terms of students’ recall of work from previous years and ability to make links with this prior knowledge.
- Students develop a wide understanding of many aspects of fundamental British values along with a well-developed SMSC awareness and knowledge.
Strong uptake of History at GCSE, A-level, and university as an indication that students are enjoying their subject and opting to continue with their studies. Their success at all these levels shows them as well prepared for the next step of their education and Historical study.