The curriculum is broad and balanced, giving students a good sense of chronology of one thousand years of primarily British History but also offering students the chance to study non-British history units such as German and American History. Our aims are to encourage students to share our passion for the subject, understand more about the world in which they live and encourage our students to be critical thinkers who enjoy discussion and debate.
“A people without the knowledge of their past history, origin and culture is like a tree without roots.” – Marcus Garvey
“Remember the days of old; consider the years of many generations; ask your father, and he will show you, your elders, and they will tell you.” Deuteronomy 32:7
The curriculum is broad and balanced allowing students a good sense of chronology of one thousand years of primarily British history at KS3 but also offering elements of non-British history. Whilst the curriculum is taught mainly chronologically in KS3, (beginning in Anglo-Saxon England and ending in the 20th century), the curriculum is designed to ensure both breadth and depth. Some units, such as the Suffragettes and the Holocaust focus on depth of knowledge of a relatively small number of years; whilst other units such as the Medieval era cover a broader number of years. The intention is to mirror the requirements at GCSE and A level which focus on both depth (e.g. the study of Henry VIII) and breadth (e.g. thematic study of Crime and Punishment c.1000-present day).
Our curriculum promotes a love of history and encourages students to develop enquiring minds. Students are encouraged to ask questions about the past and research historical events and people through the use of both primary and secondary sources. Students are encouraged to be critical thinkers; forming inferences from evidence and questioning the reliability and credibility of evidence. These are key skills to develop in an era of ‘fake news’ and the availability of information on the internet.
In addition, students will be taught valuable historical concepts, such as ‘chronological understanding’, ‘cause and consequence, and ‘significance’ in order to evaluate and analyse history. This is aimed at improving both analysis and literacy skills. Students will be supported in their development of literacy with a clear focus on the importance of structure, organisation and coherent arguments to support their writing by following the whole school literacy policy.
Students will also have opportunities to take part in academic debates about the past. Students will be encouraged to articulate their views and challenge the opinions of historians and their peers using evidence to support their arguments. Students will also be given an opportunity to work with their peers and will be encouraged to demonstrate team-work and leadership roles. We attempt to increase student’s self-confidence and provide an inclusive learning environment where all students are able to make good progress, whilst feeling comfortable to make mistakes and build resilience.
Our curriculum is intended to meet the needs of all learners including disadvantaged students and student with SEND. Students from disadvantaged backgrounds will be given financial support, where appropriate, to access learning resources such as revision guides and in attending educational visits. ‘Quality First Teaching’ strategies will be utilised to meet the needs of students with a range of disabilities and learning needs. Teachers will use the expertise of teaching assistants and the Autism Resource Base to effectively support students in lessons. Students with specific SEND needs will be supported with their learning in a variety of ways, for example through differentiated resources, coloured overlays and enlarged printed resources. To enable students to make good progress, teachers and teaching assistants will utilise a variety of strategies (see example list below). Academic progress will also be supported more closely with targeted intervention and reviewed on Provision Mapper. Regular contact with the SENCO, our specialist TA, Trinity staff and parents will enable the correct level of support to be provided, whilst encouraging independence.
Examples of how the History Curriculum is made accessible for all, including SEND and disadvantaged students:
We are fortunate to have a specialist Teaching Assistant within the History department. Weekly planning meetings ensures that all staff have clear expectations of the support needed. Teaching Assistants will support students of all abilities and needs, predominantly across KS4 classes. Teaching Assistants work closely with Teachers to support students in class but where appropriate students may work in a quieter area with the Teaching Assistant to provide one-to-one support, particularly if the student needs to complete an assessment or catch up on missed learning. Teaching Assistants also play a vital role in the development of literacy across the department, working through tier three vocabulary with students in most lessons. They also support students in building understanding and confidence with specific concepts or examination questions, enabling targeted intervention. We also believe that all students should have equal access to teaching staff, involving an inclusive approach, where the support of teaching assistants is well planned and justified. Non specialist teaching assistants also play a vital role across the department and are provided with clear instructions at the start of each lesson. This enables them to target specific students, based on prior knowledge and formative assessment methods, providing subsequent feedback at the end of the session. Enrichment activities are also supported by our link Teaching Assistant who works strategically with students of all ability levels and needs to gain the maximum outcome from the experience. This often involves pre-teaching specific concepts and skills prior to the experience.
Diversity and inclusion will be promoted within History by focusing on examples of famous people who have played an important part in shaping the world; for example, great thinkers, scientists and activists with disabilities. Likewise, the changing nature of society and its treatment of people in different eras will be discussed- for example women’s campaigns for equality in the 19th century, with an emphasis on the promotion of modern British values which promote equality and diversity.
Literacy skills and revision skills are promoted through a thematic half termly focus (e.g. flashcards/punctuation) and through word of the fortnight. Key words are explained in lessons and definitions recorded. Extended pieces of work will be proof read by students using the ‘Call the Cops’ whole school literacy strategy. Literacy in History is promoted for example through wall displays of historical fiction and the sharing of extracts on relevant topics. Department literacy coordinators enable ideas and strategies to be shared with other departments.
In History lessons, we look at wars, politics, empires, cultures and religions, but we also explore gender, medicines and science, fashion, and environment; with clear links to Careers and PSE.
History gives us a much better understanding of the world we live in, and helps us make sense of the challenges we all face today. These include climate change, Brexit, migration and race. History sharpens the ability to think critically, argue a case, write clearly and persuasively, appreciate different points of view and to work independently – on, say, an extended project.
Employers are looking for young people with exactly these skills. We find historians in all sorts of careers – politics, finance, industry, the media, civil service and teaching, the voluntary sector, heritage and archives. As we teach History, links to careers will be promoted. For example, our work on Jack the Ripper emphasises careers in forensic science and policing.
Our website features a careers page with links to History related careers which will be available for students to access. We also have posters in the department showing famous celebrities who have studied History at University in our classrooms, showing how History can lead to many different careers.
Cultural capital is the accumulation of knowledge, behaviours, and skills that a student can draw upon and which demonstrates their cultural awareness, knowledge and competence; it is one of the key ingredients a student will draw upon to be successful in society, their career and the world around them.
Our history curriculum will help develop cultural capital by giving students a good knowledge of the history of our country- where we have come from and where we are going and how this has been enriched by immigration and the contribution made by the many different ethnic groups who make up our rich and diverse nation. History is the study of people; what they did, why and the consequences these actions had on society. It is a study of change and continuity, progress and development, contrasts and connections. It is a study of the rise and fall of Empires, the development of new Nations, war and peace, hope and despair. But most of all it is a study of the people who shaped our world and offers us a chance of shaping a better future. How can we hope to make sense of the present, build a future, if we have no understanding of the past?
Our history curriculum is designed to embody cultural capital, giving all students a wide range of historical skills to help them understand the world around them. We do this through the study of both British and World history from the Norman Conquest to the Cold War. It is also enhanced by extra-curricular days such as visits to historical sites, exhibitions and outside speakers on subjects such as the Holocaust. Our curriculum encourages children to think, to evaluate, argue, listen, reflect and empathise. History allows students to come to their own conclusions and have an opinion. History demands children to care, learn from the mistakes of the past and take responsibility for taking civilisation into the new Millennium.
Within History, Catholic Social Teachings will be discussed in History lessons. These are:
The National Curriculum and Primary Transition
Our links with Primary schools, and our knowledge of the KS1 and KS2 History Curriculum are our starting point for developing our curriculum at the Catholic High School. Our students from across our feeder schools have studied a wide variety of topics including the Romans, the Iron Age, the Stone Age, the Vikings, the Greeks and the Anglo-Saxons. Our curriculum builds upon the skills that have been taught- for example the teaching of second order concepts such as change and continuity and cause and consequence. However, we are aware that many of our students in year 7 have had very different experiences of History in Primary Schools. Our transition unit, in year 7, helps to bridge this gap by ensuring basic skills such as the use of AD/BC dates and key terms such as primary and secondary sources are taught.
At KS3, we follow the National Curriculum and ensure coverage of all these themes:
Rationale and sequencing: History at Key Stage 3 aims at developing a range of key concepts, such as ‘chronological understanding’, ‘cause and consequence, and ‘significance’. There is also an emphasis on developing skills such as ‘enquiry’, ‘assessing the utility of evidence’, and ‘analysing the importance of factors’. These skills are developed through the study of a number of historical themes.
In Year 7 the first unit focuses on History Skills. The purpose behind this is to bridge the gap between primary and secondary history and to focus on key concepts relevant to the subject. Following this, our focus is on Medieval Britain and early modern British history. Throughout the units there is a thematic focused lesson on Crime and Punishment providing a link with our KS4 curriculum.
In Year 8 the emphasis is on Victorian Britain, with a depth focus on the Suffragettes in the Autumn term designed to emphasise women’s history and important political changes. In the Spring and Summer terms students learn about the impact of World War One and World War Two on Britain. Likewise, there is a focus on Crime and Punishment, for example by examining the changing role of prisons in Victorian times and the treatment of conscientious objectors in the World Wars to ensure a thematic link between Year 7 and 8.
In Year 9 students focus on the Holocaust, which provides a link between the World War Two Curriculum in year 8. This is also a topic which is important for looking at citizenship, British values and teaching about the history of anti-Semitism. In the Spring term, the History of Black people is studied exploring Britain’s part in the Transatlantic Slave Trade and focusing on the abolition movement as well as the Civil Rights Movement in the 20th Century. Later in the Spring term, a depth study on America between 1919-45 is studied, exploring aspects such as the Roaring 20s, Prohibition, the Depression and America’s entry into World War Two. In the Summer term, aspects of the Cold War are studied which provide a grounding for our Cold War units at GCSE but also focuses on some aspects not included on the KS4 specification such as the Vietnam War and the Korean War. The final unit in Year 9 is an introduction to the Jack the Ripper Murders providing a bridge between KS3 and KS4 but again allows content to be covered not on the GCSE.
Progression &Assessment: At KS3 student progress is tracked by staff using formative and summative assessments. There are 4-5 summative assessments per academic year. Progress is reported to parents via SIMS and three rounds of tracking as well as parents’ evening. SISRA is used as a tool to monitor the progress of students by their teachers. Metacognition techniques ensure students understand success criteria and are able to model excellence. In year 7-9 students are graded using GCSE bandings 1-3. Grade 1 equates to GCSE levels 7-9, Grade 2 GCSE grades 4-6 and Grade 3 GCSE grades 3 and below. ‘
Students are tested regularly through the use of Knowledge Organisers which are provided on each topic. Students are given summary worksheets on each topic and will be asked to complete a series of multiple choice questions on firefly on each topic. It is expected that all teachers set at least 2 homework tests in this format.
The Ofsted History for All report has continued to promote a 2 year GCSE course, rather than a 3 year GCSE course, to enable all learners up to 14 to continue their study of History. This has been implemented at the Catholic High School with all students studying History until Year 9. Students are offered a genuine choice at GCSE.
Tim Jenner, the Ofsted Subject Lead for History outlined at the Historical Association Virtual Annual Conference in 2021 that History curriculum should offer depth, breadth and challenge. Our curriculum at KS3 offers all three.
Ofsted has also raised concerns about the narrowing down of History into Humanities in some schools but History remains as a discreet subject, taught be specialist teachers at the Catholic High.
The impact of school closures has significantly affected students, with disruption to teaching and learning. The school continues to offer blended learning for isolating students and will utilise government funding to support learners who have been adversely affected.
Students may also be asked to complete work such as revision for end of topic tests which might be in the form of a mindmap or flashcards. Occasionally, creative tasks such as model making may be set as a homework task. One homework is set per fortnight for students in years 7-9. All homework is set on Firefly and recorded by the teacher. Parents have access to this and can monitor their child’s progress.
Rationale: For GCSE History the EDEXCEL History (9-1) course has been chosen. This course encompasses a wide range of themes, historical events and eras, enabling students to understand the past and its impact on the world around us. This specification, allows choice and flexibility across options, allowing a broad range of history to be covered. It also allows us to teach the topics that work best for our school and our students.
For Paper 1, the British thematic study with Historic Environment, we have selected ‘Crime and Punishment c.1000-present day’. As a school we felt this was engaging to students, raised interesting debates on human rights and citizenshipand linked well with the Christian ethos of the school.
For Paper 2, the Period Study and the British Depth Study, we have chosen ‘Superpower Relations and the Cold War’ and ‘Henry VIII’. The selection of this unit is built upon staff experience of teaching the Cold War and also links well to the English Curriculum with its focus on novels set in this era such as ‘Animal Farm.’ We have a large number of Eastern European students in our school, enabling these students to engage with the history of their native countries.
Henry VIII has been selected partly because of the strong narrative of Henry’s life which is engaging to students, but also because students here have a strong knowledge of Christianity which is essential for the understanding of the English Reformation.
For Paper 3, the Modern Depth Study, ‘Weimar and Nazi Germany’ has been selected. This has been chosen based on the strong subject knowledge of staff in the department but also because it provides a link to the Study of German Nationalism 1789-1919 (which is studied at A level).
Sequencing of topics: Students begin with the study of Paper 2 as this paper is solely knowledge based with no source material to analyse. Although the content of paper 2 is heavy, the skills involved focus only on AO1 (knowledge) and AO2 (analysis and concepts), whereas Paper 1 also focuses on AO3 (sources) and Paper 3 focuses on AO1-4 (judgement).
The Ofsted History for All report has continued to promote a 2 year GCSE course, rather than a 3 year GCSE course, to enable all learners up to 14 to continue their study of History. This has been implemented at the Catholic High School with the GCSE course starting in Year 10. Students are offered a genuine choice at GCSE. This is supported by Ofsted. It is also taught be a small team of specialist teachers providing excellent subject and knowledge and teaching to be departed.
Tim Jenner, the Ofsted Subject Lead for History outlined at the Historical Association Virtual Annual Conference in 2021 that History curriculum should offer depth, breadth and challenge. Our curriculum at GCSE certainly offers those with the study of Germany and Henry VIII in depth over 20 years; a period study of over 50 years in the Cold War; a thematic study of 1000 years with Crime and Punishment.
Students will have a variety of homeworks related to the GCSE topics studied. These might involve making mindmaps or flashcards on specific topics, completing revision or recall questions, completing past paper questions and annotating or improving model answers. Students will be given one homework each week at GCSE history. All homework is set on Firefly and recorded by the teacher. Parents have access to this and can monitor their child’s progress.
Progression & Assessment: At KS4 students use a workbook and a textbook. The workbook has been designed to reduce the need for students to take copious notes on key topics. Instead students are encouraged to be more active in their learning by evaluating causes and consequences of events and by planning out examination answers. The student books build on examination skills by modelling answers and making success criteria transparent to students. Red pen is used to code and label good practice and make improvements to work by the student. Assessment is in the form of past paper questions which are marked against GCSE mark schemes. Progress is reported to parents via SIMS and firefly, three rounds of tracking as well as parents’ evening. SISRA is used as a tool to monitor the progress of students by teachers. Metacognition techniques are used to share success criteria and model excellence.
Rationale: For A level History the OCR specification has been chosen. This specification, allows choice over the topic based essay and flexibility across options, allowing a broad range of history to be covered. It also allows us to teach the topics that work best for our school and our students.
In Unit 1: Students study Britain 1930–1997. This allows students to study political, social and economic history in the twentieth century. This offers very little repetition of British history from KS3-4, thus offering a new and exciting element of History.
In Unit 2: Students study Russia 1894–1941, allowing students to study an element of non-British history. Students are able to build upon their basic knowledge of communism and revolutions from the KS3 curriculum. Likewise, students will be able to draw links between the Cold War course at KS4 and the development of communism within the USSR. The department selected this unit as the Bolshevik revolution is such an important turning point in world history and students need a good understanding of communism and the revolution should they decide to pursue History or Politics at university.
In Unit 3: Students study ‘The Challenge of German Nationalism’ 1789–1919. This unit has been chosen as the thematic study which covers a period of history of over one hundred years. It also enables students to study a range of historical interpretations on this unit. It also provides a link between students’ study of Weimar Germany which is studied in KS4. This unit provides a crucial link between early modern history and the modern period, and enables students to appreciate the impact of a number of significant turning points including the French Revolution, the 1848-9 revolutions, the Wars of Unification and the outbreak of the First World War, with a particular focus on the impact they had on German nationalism. It develops students’ understanding of key concepts such as nationalism, liberalism and socialism, all significant for their understanding of the world we live in. The course finishes in 1919 and ensures students understand what happened prior to the establishment of the Weimar Republic and Nazi Germany – putting their previous GCSE study into context.
In Unit 4: Students complete a Topic Based Essay on a topic of their choice allowing students the opportunity to investigate and complete a piece of independently researched coursework, between 3000-4000 words in length.
Sequencing of topics: In year 12, students study Unit 1 and all of unit 2. Students begin to work on their coursework in the Summer of Year 12, allowing the majority of students time to complete background reading on their chosen topic over the summer break. In Year 13, students complete the study of Unit 4 & Unit 3.
Tim Jenner, the Ofsted Subject Lead for History outlined at the Historical Association Virtual Annual Conference that History curriculum should offer depth and breadth and challenge. Our curriculum at A level certainly offers those with a 200-year span of History, including the study of three different countries and 25% British History.
Students will be set a variety of homework for A level History on topics selected from the specification. These typically include making notes on key topics or making mindmaps and flashcards, extended reading on the topic, answering revision questions, completing past paper questions, coursework and annotating or improving model answers. Students will be given one homework each week at A level History.
All homework is set on Firefly and recorded by the teacher. Parents have access to this and can monitor their child’s progress.
Progression &Assessment: Assessment is in the form of past paper questions which are marked against A level mark schemes. Progress is reported to parents via SIMS and firefly and three rounds of tracking as well as parents’ evening. SISRA is used as a tool to monitor the progress of students by teachers. Metacognition techniques are used to share success criteria and model excellence.
We have excellent links with the University of Chester, and have benefitted from various workshops provided by History PGCE students and undergraduates. This year, students in Year 7 will benefit from a Handling Session of artefacts from the Grosvenor Museum in Chester.
Our extra curriculum visits vary every year. Last year, we offered a Key Stage Three trip to Staffordshire which focused on the impact of the First World War for students in Years 7-9
In KS4 we have offered a visit to London to tour the Tower of London and participate in the Jack the Ripper Walking Tour. This helps to enhance knowledge of the Crime and Punishment unit. In the following year we offer a visit to the Police Museum in Manchester, followed by a visit to Manchester Crown Court to take part in a mock trial. Again, this is aimed at improving knowledge of Crime and Punishment.
We offer an overseas visit to Berlin for KS4-5 every two years. This visit provides links to Weimar and Nazi Germany as well as the Cold War. This last took place in April 2023. This next visit will be 2025.
Local links with local businesses, such as the American Bank and the University have also allowed students to participate in events such as the Suffragette movie night to celebrate the centenary of Women gaining the right to vote.
Students in KS5, are also encouraged to take part in the Lessons from Auschwitz project which is promoted by the Holocaust Trust.
We liaise with the English and RE departments to ensure cross curricular links. For example in Year 7 our Tudor unit links to the Year 8 unit on Shakespeare. Likewise, our focus on the Industrial Revolution links to the Year 8 English unit on a ‘Christmas Carol’, as well as the Year 9 English unit on Victorian fiction and the Year 10 unit on Victorian Crime and Punishment. Likewise there are cross curricular links to Religious Education with our focus on the Holocaust and Black People’s campaigns for Equality. Although cross-curricular units in English and Re are not always taught at the same time as those in History, reference is made to these links in lessons to enable students to make links between discreet subjects.
Year 5 Taster days- Year 5 students usually have a taster day in History in June of each year. Our programme varies- we have a focus on Political Parties and more recently a murder mystery on the Princes in the Tower.
Links with feeder schools- History curriculum plans for our feeder schools have been collated allowing the department to build a varied history curriculum, build on topics studied and avoid repetition.
Baseline Year 7 Assessment- allows a basic assessment of historical skills to be created within the first few weeks of starting at the Catholic High School.