The History Department is a well-established and successful department, which has gained a reputation for producing excellent results both at GCSE and at A Level. Occupying a central position in the School, we are well equipped, with interactive whiteboards in every room and a wide variety of stimulating teaching resources. We have six members of the department, with a wide range of specialisms, and the courses we offer reflect this range and enthusiasm.
Our primary objective at IVth Form level is to give our students a good understanding of some key aspects of twentieth century history. We focus on the First World War and the Roaring 1920s in the USA. Over the year our students also learn a more analytical approach to essay writing and source evaluation. We aim to provoke the pupil’s curiosity to discover more about the past through interesting materials that bring the past to life. The IVth Form visit to the WW1 battlefields in the summer is always an informative but also a moving experience.
Our students study the Edexcel IGCSE course. Students build on foundational knowledge acquired in the IVth form, looking at Germany and America between the wars and then at the Cold War. There is also a very popular extended study of change in China from 1911-1989.
We follow the OCR course and aim to broaden students’ historical knowledge and introduce fresh material to widen their historical perspectives.
The two AS courses are ‘England 1547-1603: the later Tudors’ and ‘The Cold War in Asia 1945-1993’. For the Tudors paper, we study the unprecedented turmoil that followed Henry VIII’s death in 1547. In this period, England was exceptionally lucky to avoid civil war – but it also, somehow, ended up giving us one of our most famous and remarkable monarchs, Elizabeth I (1558-1603). How did Elizabeth and her siblings, Edward VI (1547-1553) and Mary I (1553-1558), steer a peaceful path through their reigns, avoiding the collapse of their kingdom? How did English men with prehistoric attitudes to women cope with – and then come to celebrate – rule by women? And why in this period did it become fashionable to burn your religious enemies in public? Students of this paper are able to answer all these questions and more.
The Cold War paper is very popular: it draws on the IGCSE Cold War study, but shifts the focus away from Europe and towards Asia. The course examines the basis of US involvement in Asia after 1945, and the changing nature of US policy in seeking to contain Communism in China, Korea and Vietnam. With Vietnam, the focus is on the important reasons for growing US involvement from the 1940s to the 1960s, and on the problems of failure and disengagement. We will discover why Vietnam turned into perhaps the biggest American foreign-policy mistake of all time. More broadly, the course will give you an insight into the Cold War in Asia and how the fight between East and West occurred across other parts of the world.
In the second year the two papers that complete the A-Level qualification are: ‘Russian Dictatorships, 1855-1964’ and ‘Coursework on the Tudor period’. You will study a course on Russian dictatorships, a synoptic essay paper which looks at various themes across a hundred year period of Russian history. The final unit consists of an independently researched essay on the Tudor period. It will be drawn from, but go beyond, your AS studies.