History at Lawrence Sheriff School is a compulsory subject at Key Stage 3 and a popular option choice at both GCSE and A Level. The aim of the department is to develop students’ understanding of History as part of a continuum which helps understand our present world. This is achieved through varied but rigorous learning experiences based on the development of the students’ investigative, analytical and communication skills. High levels of intellectual independence are encouraged amongst students where knowledge, interpretation and evaluation of the past are a priority. All three members of the department teach History across the key stages.
At Key Stage 3, which involves students studying History for two lessons a week for two years, the department’s approach is to strike a balance between knowledge and skills, developing an understanding of British and World History within a broad chronological frame work based both on thematic investigations of historical issues over time and in depth case studies of specific historical problems and events.
In Year 7, students concentrate on the period 1000 to 1600, studying invasion and migration of peoples, focussing on the British Isles and the wider world, including world empires; aspects of the medieval world including the Crusades and castle development over time; social and religious change from the Black Death to the Reformation; the relationship between power and people and the end of medieval society.
In Year 8, students concentrate on the period 1600 to 2000 through studying the British experience of empire and industrialisation; the changing relationship between power and the people leading towards the creation of the United Kingdom and parliamentary democracy, including parallel case studies of the American and French revolutions; the changing nature of warfare from the early modern world through to the Napoleonic Wars, the First and Second World Wars and the Cold War and studies of the experience of different non democratic political systems in the 20th century, primarily Communism and Nazism and the Holocaust. The course ends with optional studies on ‘Where are we now?’, focussing on modern Britain and the wider world as a culmination to studying 1000 years of history over the whole Key Stage 3 course.
From Year 9, History is a GCSE option and focusses exclusively on 20th century History. Students are taught three lessons per week over the whole GCSE course. In Year 9, students study three units focussing on the causes, course and consequences of the First and Second World Wars as preparation for Controlled Assessment and a depth study on the USA between the world wars. This provides the basis for the full AQA GCSE Modern World History course in Years 10 and 11 involving a Controlled Assessment on Britain in the two world wars; an examined unit on International Relations since the Second World War, primarily studying the period from the start of the Cold War to the collapse of Communism in Europe; and a further examined unit on Weimar and Nazi Germany 1918 – 45 as a depth study. Both examined units will be taken at the end of Year 11.
At Advanced Level, students are taught six lessons per week and take the OCR History GCE course which involves two examined units at AS Level in Year 12 on 17th century British History (the English Civil War and Interregnum 1637 – 1660) and 20th century European History (Russia: From Autocracy to Communism 1894 – 1941). Success in these leads to the full A Level in Year 13 where individual coursework focusses on Vietnam 1955 – 1975 as a study in historical interpretation and the opportunity is given for students to produce their own investigative assignment on a historical issue of their own choosing. In addition, there is an examined unit on Themes in History, a synoptic paper, investigating the changing nature of warfare from 1792 to 1945.
There has been considerable success at A Level recently with an average A*/A and B grade attainment of 90% in the past three years and 88% for the same grades at GCSE for 2012, of which 62% were A*/A grades.
The department also aims to encourage interest in History outside the classroom with local field trips at KS3 and the opportunity to either visit First and Second World War battlefield sites in France and Belgium or Nazi and Cold War Berlin with expert guides for GCSE groups. There are also opportunities to visit Russia or the United States at A Level.