History is a subject that forms the bedrock of our understanding of the culture in which we live as well as the wider world around us. Understanding the linkages between past and present is vital for a good understanding of the condition of being human. Part of the reason teaching history is so important, is because it is often nuanced and complex. It demands that we think beyond our current frame of reference to see and consider critically other points of view. When discussing sensitive topics like war, racism or genocide, challenge is to encourage students to understand multiple perspectives at the same time. Aside from learning to communicate ideas and engage in debates, history allows us to see that many problems in life have no clear answer. Realising these complexities allows students to cultivate flexibility, critical and problem-solving skills, and an openness towards other people’s perspectives.
The content covered gives students the opportunity to explore issues at a local, national and international level: from the ancient era through to the twentieth century. This range of history offers the opportunity to explore different peoples’ perspectives on issues and events and to think critically about the world in which they live. Our curriculum is carefully sequenced to give students a broad understanding of the chronological development of British history, as well as being able to make links to other societies, cultures and world events. Understanding key concepts within History, such as significance, causation and consequence, unlocks the door for students to be able to ask inquiring questions, analyse information and convey their views in a methodical and structured way. These skills are honed and developed progressively through the curriculum to create historians confident in communicating their views, both in writing and orally.
The History curriculum offered immerses students in a range of cultures and engenders an enquiring and critical outlook on the world, with skills that can be applied in other subjects and in their future endeavours. We believe that students deserve a broad and ambitious History curriculum, rich in knowledge and skills. We are striving to make our curriculum as ambitious as possible to enable our students to expand their perspectives through a range of spiritual, moral, social and cultural opportunities; to promote their sense of moral and social responsibility (for example: year 9 students study the Holocaust but also discuss the issue of genocide in the modern world). The History curriculum also gives our students opportunities to develop a high level of literacy and numeracy (for example, using graphs and statistics to help develop their understanding of cause, continuity and change) required for success in the wider curriculum and in adult life. It also provides an appropriate range of opportunities and experiences to inspire pupils to succeed in the next stage in their education.
As a knowledge-engaged curriculum we believe that knowledge underpins and enables the application of skills – both are intertwined. As a department, we carefully assess the knowledge our students need and help them recall it through subject specialist staff, utilising a carefully planned and considered curriculum, which builds on previous knowledge and helps students understand topics in a wider context. We build the cultural capital of our students through everything we teach as history and culture are intrinsically linked, as well as providing students with the opportunity to engage in visits to historical sites and places of historical interest, (every student will have the opportunity to visit Auschwitz, Berlin and the Battlefields of the Western Front) thus further developing their cultural capital. We are constantly improving students’ understanding of wider culture through exposure to politics, art, religion and language within the history we teach.
Further rationale behind our curriculum design includes ensuring students see the relevance of history in the modern world. Our choice of GCSE exam board and topics ensure students study a wide range of history and are able to make comparisons within and across periods thus being fully equipped for the study of A level history. At Rudheath Senior Academy we have chosen Edexcel exam board and we study the following topics:
- Medicine in Britain, c1250–present and The British sector of the Western Front, 1914–18: injuries, treatment and the trenches
- Early Elizabethan England, 1558–88
- The American West, 1835-1895
- Weimar and Nazi Germany, 1918–39
The chosen topics enable our students to develop and extend their knowledge and understanding of specified key events, periods and societies in local, British, and wider world history, and of the wide diversity of human experience. Each of the topics is linked to what we teach at KS3 to help the students develop their knowledge and fully appreciate the importance of history. We believe that the topics we have chosen are the most suitable to provide our students with an exciting and enjoyable GCSE course.
Our History curriculum will give students the opportunity to:
- study issues at a local, national and international level in Ancient, Medieval, Early Modern and Modern time periods
- understand Britain’s influence on the wider world
- study the history and influence of different peoples and places across time
- assess the impact of events on individual and communities
- be exposed to a high level of historical and conceptual vocabulary
- learn to interpret a broad range of sources including visual sources and propaganda
- be exposed to different peoples’ perspectives on issues and events
- develop an understanding of how to apply and write about historical concepts such as causation, continuity and change; significance; consequence; diversity
- develop confidence in orating and debating historical issues and evaluate historical interpretations
- embrace collective memory, which is essential to become an informed citizen and enables us to be active participants in democracy.
Our History curriculum ensures that skills and knowledge are built on year by year and sequenced appropriately to maximise learning for all students. It is important that our students develop the skills of a historian throughout their time at Rudheath and do not just learn a series of facts about the past. In History, pupils find evidence, weigh it up and reach their own conclusion. To do this successfully, as historians, they need to be able to research, interpret evidence, including primary and secondary sources, and have the necessary skills to argue their point of view; a skill that will help them in their adult life.
Surface learning focuses on knowledge and skills building and deep learning focuses on application of the knowledge and steers students towards more abstract and creative thinking. But it should also include some deep essay questions, because the application of history is really what we want the students to gain in their experience of learning history at Rudheath.
Our pedagogy is underpinned by:
- enquiry based studies set within a broader historical context
- a focus on developing students’ analytical writing by focusing on description, explanation and evaluation
- the regular use of live modelling and exemplar answers to demonstrate processes, standards and expectations
- a range of strategies to deepen knowledge so that it is committed to long term memory, such as knowledge drills
- the importance of giving students regular opportunities to improve work
- interrogating current historical debates and the latest historical scholarship
- students understanding what they are doing well and how they need to improve
- students will develop new skills through a variety of interesting contexts to foster enjoyment
- students will develop a rich and deep subject knowledge.
In History, we also implement our curriculum through a range of teaching approaches including decision making exercises and creative tasks as well as more traditional source-based questions and essay writing. Discussion and debate are a regular feature of lessons, as well as regular spiraling back to ensure key content is secure. The curriculum is designed to make sure that the content is not taught as facts to be memorised but the way that helps students to acquire different concepts and, therefore, helps pupils develop their understanding of the subjects and progress in their learning.
The curriculum is sequenced to ensure:
- students learn within a coherent chronological framework
- key concepts and themes such as civilisation, society, government are interwoven
- there is opportunity to measure pace, extent and trends in change and continuity over time
- students are able to make relevant links between historical episodes such as the black death and the industrial revolution
- there is progression between key stages 2, 3 and 4, with students being exposed to themes and content that will allow all students to access the KS4 content (There is an overlap between topics taught in primary and secondary school. However, whenever in KS3 we teach topics studied in KS2, we do not simply teach them again, but we cover them in more depth or with a different emphasis, e.g. studying different types of sources or looking at the issue from a different perspective).
- there is an increasing level of challenge and complexity to enquiries
- there is appropriate division of time between Ancient, Medieval, Early Modern and Modern topics
Our approach to medium-term planning is not underpinned by just one secondary-order key concept (chronology, change, continuity, causation, consequence, significance) but a sequence of short topics, which include more disciplinary concepts. Studying numerous, short topics, instead of concentrating on only one topic through the half term, enables us to introduce the students to more aspects of History. Key concepts play an important role in planning the curriculum. Thinking about the key concepts for teaching History when planning the curriculum, helps the teachers to focus on what is important within the subject and how we can help learners make progress in understanding these things. Access to the key concepts means that the students should be aiming to think and behave like historians. Key concepts are also used in the long-term planning to help the students understand the subject and make progress. The curriculum is designed in a way that provides opportunities to revisit both the substantive and disciplinary concepts. The learners need to grasp a more basic concept before going on to the more complex one. The curriculum is designed the way that the sequence of units and the sequence of lessons make sense, and the students have sufficient background knowledge from previous units or lessons to undertake the next. We also have built a highly diverse curriculum that covers a wide range of cultures and ethnic groups as well as interweaving an increased focus on women’s history and hidden voices from the past.
How is greater depth achieved?
To further develop capital culture, History offers students a range of experiences outside of the classroom environment. These opportunities are designed to develop student’s experiences and enhance their cultural understanding of the world around them. Experiences have included a History trip to Krakow and Auschwitz, where students explored the rich and powerful History of the Holocaust. Students have had the opportunity to visit the Royal Armories in Leeds and the Imperial War Museum North in Manchester where they took part in various workshops relating to changing attitudes and technology of warfare. We have also welcomed a number of organistions into the Academy such as the Holocaust Education Trust where students listened to oral testimony from a Holocaust survivor. A visit from the Anne Frank Trust saw Year 9 students deliver a Holocaust exhibition to their peers and local primary schools. In addition to these activities, the History Department runs additional weekly revision support for all Year 11 learners. An annual Poppy Run in conjunction with the Royal British Legion and competitions including pumpkin carving and Easter egg painting that learners across the whole school have the opportunity to enter and earn points for a chance to win the Humanities Faculty Trophy.
How are you teaching literacy through your subject?
Learners have the opportunity to engage in challenging texts throughout the curriculum.
The department uses a range of strategies to imbed this into the curriculum such as story/source/scholarship.
The use of Knowledge organisers for every unit allows students to fully understand and embed Tier 3 and 4 vocabulary.
Guided reading tasks linked to the latest historical scholarship such as “Death in 10 minutes” by Fern Riddel, and “The Five” by Hallie Rubenhold.
The department also uses the book “Black and British” by David Olusoga to support the whole school literacy strategy and allows guided reading opportunities throughout the curriculum.
How do you ensure the needs are ALL learners are met?
History schemes of work are accessible for all learners with stretch and challenge opportunities in every lesson. The successful implementation of department tracker allows the teacher to be aware of disadvantaged, vulnerable and SEND students and ensure they are fully supported during lessons by the faculty Teaching Assistant and Teacher strategies that achieve successful learning outcomes for these students often include; breaking down tasks into small chunks, repetition, overlays and visual reminders
Within the department we ensure that all learners are stretched regardless of their background or demographic. With a clear focus on demonstrating high expectations and consistency which allows students to learn in a safe learning environment where learners thrive and are not afraid to try their best. Lessons are consistently taught from the top and teacher modelling is used frequently.
Positive reinforcement is used at every opportunity by praising in public and reprimanding in private. Our learning environments are that of celebrating success and promoting our ethos of excellence and kindness.
Assessment and feedback
The Impact of the History Curriculum is measured through data produced at three key assessment points throughout the academic year. The quality of work produced in History aims to be of a consistently high standard whilst aspiring to be in the top quintile for all schools. With all learners displaying a good knowledge of the topics they are studying whilst developing the ability to link key historical concepts together from previous studied topics. In conjunction with this learners will also assimilate a broad range of historical skills that they can transfer to their next stage in education.
Whole class feedback is given on a regular basis the rationale for this approach is:
- Less marking, more feedback’ – Efficiency with maximum impact
- Tuning fork for class – misconceptions, issues, praise, targets etc
- Aids planning, class and verbal feedback
Feedback sessions allow the following to take place:
- Improved focus on feedback using a variety of activities
- Filling subject knowledge gaps through direct instruction & student collaboration
- Developing and practicing skills
- Modelling and redrafting exam questions
- Literacy & presentation
- Extension activities and completing work
The impact of this approach has been:
- Considerably reduced marking time (workload win!!) which allows us to monitor books more regularly
- Teachers have greater awareness of class progress and issues
- Teachers are giving better feedback (and thinking about it more!) and not just writing individual comments
- Helped planning, especially at GCSE to tackle new skills/content and target gaps/misconceptions
Pupils in KS3 receive a takeaway homework project every half term, the project is linked to the topic being studied. These projects provide further research opportunities for pupils to expand their knowledge and increase their interest in the studied topic. Copies of the homework project will be given directly to the pupils on paper as well as on teams. Projects can be submitted both physically and online through teams.
At KS4 pupils receive topic booklets that relate to each individual component of the GCSE course being studied. These booklets support pupil learning and allow for further practice of essential exam technique. Booklets are available to pupils in both physical and online formats. These are submitted both physically and online through teams.
How do you ensure staff development in your curriculum area?
- Edexcel exam webinars and conferences
- Holocaust Education Trust CPD courses
- Secondary Partnership Mentor Training
- Middle Leader Training Programs
In school training is offered through:
- Morning briefings
- Whole school CPD
- Coaching Programme offering peer coaching around teaching and learning
Occasionally an Associate teacher is invited from a university to train in the department which have been an invaluable resource to share subject developments and fresh ideas.
By the end of KS3 students should have developed:
- A secure knowledge and understanding of people, events and contexts of History
- The ability to think critically about History and communicate confidently in styles appropriate to a range of audiences
- The ability to consistently support, evaluate and challenge their own and others’ views using detailed, appropriate and accurate evidence derived from a range of sources
- The ability to assess evidence
- The ability to assess conflicting interpretations
- The ability in assessing past examples of change
- A passion for History and an enthusiastic engagement in learning, which develops their sense of curiosity about the past and their understanding of how and why people interpret the past in different ways
- A desire to embrace challenging activities, including opportunities to undertake high-quality research across a range of historical topics.
By the end of KS4 students should also have developed:
- Excellent understanding of the GCSE content
- Examination skills
The summative assessment to check for overall fluency and knowledge retention of students takes place three times a year. The formative assessment is embedded in lesson plans, in form of peer & self-assessment, quizzes, visuals to demonstrate learning (e.g., diagrams, charts), questioning and verbal feedback, to highlight strengths and areas for improvement. Gaps in knowledge are quickly identified and corrections and improvements are promoted (reflection time in lessons). Metacognitive strategies are used to help student to understand the way they learn. Students are encouraged to ‘think aloud’ especially when struggling with reading comprehension or problem solving, they are given but also asked to create their own check lists and knowledge organisers, to support pupils in the decision-making process, and self-evaluation. The importance of low stake testing is valued by the department, as we believe that the students should be given the opportunity to try, make mistakes and to learn from them. Multiple choice quizzes, quick quiz with answers in books, key words tests, labelling a diagram from memory or recalling key facts/dates/people from memory are often used as starters or plenaries in History lessons.