History Documents

Definition of Subject:

 ‘History is who we are and why we are the way we are’ - David McCullough

In order to gain an understanding of the world today, it is crucial to comprehend how and why we have arrived at this point. To try and answer huge questions like why some countries are richer than others, why so many people in the world speak English or to explain the existence of global conflict requires a deep appreciation of Historical study, that is arguably the study of human progress itself. Through history, students come to understand their place in the world, and in the long story of human development.


Nature of Subject:

History as a discipline is focussed on exploring interpretations of the past. Within the secondary curriculum this means an exploration of nearly one thousand years of History, beginning with the Anglo-Saxon Era in England and continuing right up to the modern day. However, we emphasise an importance in challenging students to make sense of the striking similarities and vast differences in human experiences across time and place. With this focus in mind, we have a careful balance of British and international history, and look to ensure the diversity of humanity is explored to ensure to capture many voices from the past. These stories are told from contemporary historical sources but also through historical interpretations that have since arisen.


Although we are keen to engender a deep engagement in the stories that History provides, we also appreciate the importance of developing students’ analytical skills. To this end, when teaching the content, we look to explain and analyse historical events and periods studied using second-order (disciplinary) historical concepts (continuity, change, cause, consequence, significance, and diversity). Students also have opportunities to analyse, evaluate and make substantiated judgements about the historical sources they explore from the era to decide how useful they are to an historical investigation. In order to develop our students into historians, we also teach our students how to analyse, evaluate and make substantiated judgements about historical interpretations. These skills are embedded and revisited across the History curriculum to clearly progress the students towards mastery in the subject.


Purpose of the Subject:

History as a subject requires curious, enquiring minds and an ability to critically evaluate. These core values set our purpose

  1. Excite curiosity in the past and tell the exciting tale of humans
  2. Ensure we explore the diversity of human experience which is represented from the past. As such we ensure we explore gender, race, religion as well as the different experiences of rich and poor within a common society.
  3. Ensure students can make inferences from a complex array of data, argument, portrayal and opinion.
  4. Develop critical thinking skills, so that students are able to read historical sources, and carefully consider how useful it is to an historical investigation, based on its content and its provenance (background)
  5. Develop the ability to critically evaluate multiple interpretations of the past, and use them to draw their own conclusions on historical events.
  6. To empower students with the procedural knowledge to be able to write extended structured responses which critically analyse and evaluates a debated historical interpretation.
  7. To encourage students to confidently debate a topic, and be able to discuss differing opinions thoughtfully with their peers. 


Curriculum Overview:

Year 7: In Y7, the ESW History curriculum aims to establish a critical platform for the KS3 curriculum.

The Norman Conquest & impact unit teaches students about a significant period of English history and provides them with a framework of the impact of conquest. The study of power and conquest will be developed through studying the Norman conquest and the Medieval World topic that follows this seeks to draw out different strands of experience in this era, including the lives of rich, poor, women and the enormous importance of the Catholic faith in Europe. Students are then taught about a civilisation which was simultaneously occurring during Europe’s Middle Ages – but on the other side of the world. The Pre-Columbian Civilisations unit builds on previous work in Year 7 on conquest and expansion. We build on this and focus on conquistadors like Cortes who conquered Mexico. We start to bring in ideas of colonial history and this gives students a basis for future study of the slave trade and Empire in Year 8.

The study of power and the changing role of Church and Parliament will be investigated with a specific focus on Henry VIII’s break with Rome. The interplay between Church and State is crucial to understand. Our Y7 curriculum will end with the story of migration into Britain, during the Medieval era and beyond. This will give a broad chronological sweep of the history that links into the Medieval era they have studied but also the eras they will explore In Year 8 and Year 9. This topic will be recognising the lived experiences of people within our diverse communities, from stories of migration to everyday life


Year 8: We start the year building on the changing role of Church in England following the Break from Rome. Students will look at how religious dissension was responsible for the Gunpowder plot, and was also largely responsible for the English Civil War. It builds on their understanding of monarchy from year seven by exploring the powers of monarchy and reactions and views. By exploring the English Civil war students develop their contextual knowledge of politics and power and can begin to analyse the long- and short-term impacts of historical events.

Slavery and Empire – students build on residue knowledge of conquest that they learned about in Year 7. They explore how technology, religion and the desire for wealth and power once again provided the core reasons for imperial growth, but on a vaster scale than before, in the form of the British Empire. Students explore in greater depth what empire means for some of the British colonies.

The narrative of migration begun in Year 7, including both people and ideas, is further explored through the expansion of empires as well as forced movement of people as part of the transatlantic slave trade. Protest, both peaceful and violent, is expanded upon when studying the role of the suffragette movement in effecting important social change in Britain.


Year 9: Driving the Year 9 curriculum is the question of power, peace and warfare, while also trying to draw together many of the strands sown throughout Year 7 & 8.

This world depth study should enable learners to understand the causes and impact of World War One, and World War Two in political and military terms. The impact of the Nazi dictatorship on people’s lives within German society provides an understanding of how an entire nation can be ruled under a dictatorship. The knowledge students have of politics is expanded outside of the realms of monarchy and democracy, with consideration of ideas such as fascism and communism in the USSR.  Learners should be able to identify and describe the main features of this aspect of the twentieth century and should develop an understanding of the diverse lives and experiences of people during this traumatic time.


Year 10: In Year 10, students build upon their knowledge of Medieval life and the Norman Conquest with modules that explore these themes in greater depth. Students are taught the History of a local building of significance – Buckland Abbey. Through the life of one building, students learn about the daily lives of the people that occupied it, from Medieval monks, to Tudor families and 18th century agriculturalists, right up to the modern day as a National Trust property.

In Year 10, students also learn about the Norman Conquest, growing on the knowledge from Year 7. Students are taught about the complexity of ways that William of Normandy embedded his power, and also the many ways this impacted English society politically, socially, religiously and economically.  

The third module taught in Year 10 is about the “People’s Health” in Britain and at times abroad. Students explore the amazing progress achieved in improving public health from Medieval times to today.

Finally, Year 10 introduces the topic of Making of America. From the birth of the nation through to the advent of the USA being the most powerful country on Earth and the clash of cultures that this process entailed.


Year 11: Students begin Year 11 continuing the topic of how America was formed, learning about the American Civil War and the lasting impact of the White American expansion on African Americans and Native Americans right into the start of the twentieth century.  

The final module taught in Year 11 is Nazi Germany. This module is a depth study, which focusses only on Germany from 1933 to 1945. It explores Hitler’s consolidation of power within Germany, the control the Nazis had over people and their treatment of minorities. Following an analysis of German society under Hitler, the module then explores what happens following the start of World War Two; with an in-depth analysis on the trauma faced by German people as well as those living in occupied territories.



Year 12 and 13: Students explore three topics in Year 12 and 13: The Tudors up until the death of Henry VIII, the years of the Cold War and Twentieth Century China.

The Tudors module encompasses the reigns of Henry VII from 1485 right through to Elizabeth I in 1603. The topic explores how these monarchs managed their political, religious and economic affairs. Important themes such as the ending of the Wars of the Roses, the Break from Rome and the implications of monarchy on the people of the country are considered in depth. This module also focuses on the careful analysis of historical interpretations, evaluating historians’ viewpoints and how convincing they are.

Studying the Cold War, students focus on the conflicting worldviews of the USA and USSR which rose to prominence after World War Two. The role of political ideology, economics, underpinned by an ever-present threat of nuclear war in shaping global affairs, is the topic that students use to analyse primary sources and develop evaluative, persuasive writing.

Students are expected to independently research twentieth century China in order to write an extended response that encompasses all the skills of an historian. These skills include the ability to confidently write an extended exposition in answer to an enquiry question, as well as critically evaluating sources contemporary to the period and other historians’ viewpoint relevant that may shed further light on twentieth century China.

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