Learning about the past is central to a balanced education and a full understanding of the world in which we live. At The Highfield School, the history department aims to develop an enthusiasm for finding out about the events, attitudes and people that make up our past. We seek to give a background to current events, both through studying British history across the past 2000 years, and through examining key moments across the globe that have shaped the world we live in today. Our history curriculum also encourages students to practice creating strong arguments, to discuss and debate with each other, and to critically evaluate sources of information.
At KS5, the department also offers A-Level Government & Politics. This is open to all students, not just those who have studied history at GCSE and is an excellent opportunity for students to develop their knowledge of the society we live in, as well as further develop their skills of reasoning, debate and critical analysis. Our course offers the opportunity to study UK Government & Politics, the Government & Politics of the USA, and the political ideologies of conservatism, liberalism, socialism and nationalism.
|Head of History and Politics||Ms C Burgess|
|Teacher of History and Politics||Mr W Peacock|
History at The Highfield School begins with studying unsolved mysteries from the past, in which students formulate their own theories based on available evidence. We then spend the first term of Year 7 examining invaders and in Britain by investigating the Norman Conquest. In the spring term, students tackle the Crusades, and finish by analysing significant moments in the first thousand years of Islam. In the summer term, students will be investigating the Medieval African kingdoms and addressing misconceptions about African history before the arrival of Europeans. They will then compare and contrast this knowledge by conducting a project on Medieval Letchworth.
In Year 8, students develop their understanding of Medieval England by investigating two key events – the Black Death and Peasants’ Revolt. They also study Henry VIII’s break with Rome, which paved the way for some of the most significant conflicts and power shifts in British history. After studying the Civil War and interpretations of Oliver Cromwell, students will develop an overview of the British Empire through mini-depth studies on America and India, and will evaluate the short and long-term impacts of the Slave Trade. Concluding the year, students will study the social and political impacts of the Industrial Revolution on Britain.
In Year 9, we turn our attention to key events that have shaped British and world history in the twentieth century – World Wars, the rise of political extremism, the Holocaust, Civil Rights and protest movements in the 20th century. Through examining the causes and significance of these events, students gain an appreciation of world politics today.
At GCSE, we follow the AQA history syllabus, covering the following topics:
- The rise and fall of Nazi Germany
- The Cold War
- Power and protest in Britain over the last 1000 years
- Elizabeth I
We ask major questions, such as considering why Hitler was able to come to power in Germany, and when Britain was at its most democratic. Students complete two written papers, each lasting for 2 hours, for their final exam.
In order to further our studies of Germany and the Cold War, the history department offers a residential trip to Berlin in the summer of Year 10, which allows students to experience the impact of a divided Berlin on world history.
At A-Level, we follow the AQA syllabus, covering two key power struggles in history: the Russian Revolution and the English Civil Wars. Studying Russia allows students to investigate changes and continuities across a broad time period, as they examine events from 1855 to 1964.
The English topic is a depth study, in which students can immerse themselves in the attitudes and people who shaped the Civil War, Interregnum, and Restoration. Each topic is assessed in one paper, and makes up 40% of the A-level.
In addition, students are required to produce a 4000 word essay on any historical topic of their choice, which they research between May of Year 12 and March of Year 13. This contributes to 20% of the A-level mark and is an excellent opportunity to develop students’ research skills and prepare them for university-style essays and research.
In A-Level Government & Politics, we follow the Pearson Edexcel syllabus, covering two key western democracies: the UK and USA. The course is split into three components: UK Government, UK politics and US Government & Politics. The third component on the USA is a comparative module, so students are encouraged to compare the systems in the USA with those of the UK system. This allows students to draw parallels and carefully analyse key questions, such as, ‘how are rights protected?’, ‘which institutions hold power?’, ‘how effective is the system in promoting democracy?’ In addition to this, component one and two both have a political ideologies element. In this, students will learn about the values and principles that underpin political thought, how these have changed and developed over time and who the key political thinkers are that have influenced these ideologies.
These components allow students to develop a deeper understanding of the world we live in and how and why events have been shaped by the political system and political thought.
All three components are exam based, and each component is equally weighted, so each is worth 33.3% of the overall grade.
USEFUL LINKS AND RESOURCES
(BBC bitesize for KS3 – lots of useful information on a range of topics)
(BBC – timelines & other links)
(lots of primary sources & information available)
What homework is set in history and politics?
At KS3, students will receive 4 pieces of homework in Autumn term, 3 in Spring term, and 3 or 4 in Summer term. This homework will include research and projects to consolidate and extend learning on the topics that we study
At KS4, students can expect around 1 hour of homework per week. They are strongly encouraged to revise during the holidays, and will be set homework to help them to do this.
At KS5, students will receive homework at least once a week, and will additionally be expected to complete independent work – preparation for their coursework, and extra reading using the books available from the history department.
Is there coursework in history and politics?
There is no coursework at history GCSE or in A-Level politics. In A-Level history, students need to produce a 4000-word essay, which is 20% of their grade.
What trips are run by the history and politics department?
In the summer of Year 10, the history department runs a trip to Berlin. This allows students to understand more about the role of the city in both Germany’s history, and the events of the Cold War. We also run a trip to Parliament in A-level politics in Year 12. In A-level history we work with the RPS department to apply for places in the ‘Lessons from Auschwitz’ scheme ran by the Holocaust Educational Trust: