‘The past is another country.’ It is there to be explored and in that process we discover much about ourselves.
At SHS we seek to stimulate student curiosity and interest in History through thoughtful enquiry and student focused learning. We aim to broaden and develop our understanding not just of the past but of the present and, in its turn, the future. This knowledge allows us to gain both insight and an enduring interest into who we are, where we come from and what we can achieve.
Inside the classroom the style of teaching and learning across all years is creative and invigorating, and teachers deliver carefully planned, well focused lessons that employ a wide variety of teaching styles. These include debates, hot seating, presentations, video clips, recording by students themselves, common task assessments, essay writing, and source analysis. Lessons are designed to encourage active learning and independent thought.
Our learning takes us beyond the classroom with visits to sites of historical significance such as Hampton Court and the First World War battlefields. We have a History reading group, and a History and Politics society, both of which meet weekly, and the latter involves presentations by both staff and students, as well as guest speakers.
A significant number of students go on to read History, Politics, or combined honours courses at top universities.
History broadens the mind and creates many employment opportunities. It can form the entry route into such occupations as law, librarianship, the Civil Service, journalism, government and politics. A popular career choice for History graduates is accountancy and many successful business people are also historians.
Our History curriculum inculcates our students into a body of knowledge, skills and understanding to enable them to become resilient lifelong learners, historians, and critical thinkers. The provision offered takes place in and out of the classroom, is relevant to the needs, experiences, and contexts of our students, and, importantly, is engaging. Our intent is to offer a broad range of support, experiences and knowledge, while at the same time developing depth of knowledge so that our students (over time) develop a deeper understanding of the past and a respect for contemporary evidence to enable them to become active citizens and critical thinkers.
It is intended that challenge be at the core of our planning and curriculum so that our students can build a meaningful, experiential, and enriching body of knowledge and skills to help push our students beyond their current horizons. It is our aim to immerse our students in contemporary evidence to instil a love of history so that our students can understand the diverse ways in which people in the past related to each other, events and how they interpreted their worlds.
It is our aim to ensure our students make rapid progress through a spiralled curriculum, one in which we revisit key concepts, themes, types of sources and historical processes. It is our intent to challenge our students' preconceived notions of historical understanding and progress, challenging accepted 'truths' and giving students the tools to challenge accepted authority and orthodoxy. We intend to 'make the difference' for all our students, so that they can be socially responsible citizens and help make the difference for others.
All students extend their knowledge and understanding of key events, periods and societies through an assessment of local, British and wider world history across the Key Stages. At KS3, the History National curriculum is covered in appropriate depth, over a 3-year KS3. This is implemented with thoughtful consideration to the topics chosen. All planning focuses on key enquiry questions to draw together series of lessons to develop students as independent learners and as critical and reflective thinkers. Progress is monitored through three key assessment points (KAP) in each year of KS3 and at least half termly with KS4 and 5 with a focus on testing their long-term memory, source analysis skills and to reach substantiated judgments. Regular analysis of these KAPs results will help future planning and assessment.
Equally important is the development of learners' ability to make valid historical claims by using a range of sources. The ability to analyse and evaluate sources in a critical manner is consistently approached through KS3 -5 and will be a part of both regular sessions and KAPs. At KS4 and KS5 students will further develop analysis and evaluation of historical interpretations, focusing on how and why different interpretations have been constructed.
Each year group has subject-specific vocabulary that is taught, embedded, and tested through careful session planning. Regular planning will link current learning to past studies and where it fits in the big picture. Modelling of responses and targeted feedback will also be a key feature at KS4 and 5. Additional intervention classes and exam preparation/ revision classes are run by teachers within the department. All these strategies will ensure that students possess a solid grounding on which to support students in their summative Key Stage 4 examinations and beyond into Sixth Form. We envisage students being keenly aware of the purpose of their learning and how it fits into the overall programme of study. The efficacy of the delivery of this will be evaluated by learning walks, book looks, lesson observations, department meetings and student dialogue in line with the wider Humanities Faculty.
Outcomes in the History department are among the best in the school and compare favourably against national comparison in terms of both attainment and progress. In 2022 90.9% of students attained a Grade 9-4 compared to their target of 75.8%. Our A-Level results mirror those at GCSE. KSS A*-C target was 66.7%, however, the students achieved 77.8% A*-C. Uptake for History at GCSE is high, with numerous students pursuing higher education studies in the field and related areas. The History Department has sent several students to Russell Group universities, and numerous students have gone on to work in industries where the skill set of assessing interpretations and reaching substantiated judgements is of fundamental importance. For example, we have helped students into university courses in law, journalism, business, and education.
History visits and activities run each year and are a cornerstone of the department's cultural capital.