What we are trying to achieve with our curriculum

To foster in pupils a love of history and an understanding of why it is important for them to study the subject. To endeavour to create in them a lifelong interest in history by making it relevant to them, through drawing parallels with our world today. For pupils to develop an understanding of the development of our country, from the ‘Middle Ages to the Present Day’ and how we became a ‘world power’ and how this shaped who we are today. For pupils to develop an understanding of the role our country has had, in creating the world in which we live today. To enable pupils to be able to articulate an argument and for them to possess the rudimentary building blocks necessary to do so. To enable all pupils to write fluently and with depth and detail, both with short paragraphs and extended essay type answers, which will allow them to access the rigours of GCSE. To engender in our pupils, the virtues of: curiosity, discernment, reflection, deliberation, good judgement, compassion, a love of learning, resilience, perseverance.

How we deliver our curriculum

Pupils in years 7 and 8 have four hours a fortnight of history lessons. Pupils in 9 have two hours over the fortnight. Pupils in years 10 and 11 have six hours across a fortnight. Currently all pupils in year 9  study history and make their GCSE choices in term two of this academic year. This was introduced for current year 10 (2021-22) due to COVID and lockdown. This continues with current year 9 (2021-22) for the same reason. At KS4, in each year, (10 and 11) the uptake to study history at GCSE is very high – at least 3/4s of each year group.  All classes in these year groups are taught by one of the two history specialists, who make up the department. They are all mixed ability classes. One class in current year 8, is taught by a colleague, who teaches in the English dept. and is a history specialist.

History lessons are delivered using overarching enquiry questions, which allow the pupils to study a variety of topics, some as overviews and others more in depth, over a series of lessons. This mirrors the GCSE specification which is also a mixture of depth and overview studies.

Lessons are taught using clearly defined lesson and topic objectives, using a wide variety of resources from: presentations, to textbooks, to departmentally created resources as well as the Google classroom. The Google classroom is used at both KS3 and KS4 by pupils to complete online retrieval practice knowledge tests. These are completed at KS3, three times a half term and once a week at KS4. Due to COVID protocols Google Classroom is also the means by which online materials and live lessons are accessed by those pupils working from home.  The department uses a variety of modelling and scaffolding techniques, which allow pupils of all abilities to develop the skills they need to be successful in history.

At KS4 pupils use booklets created by the department as a way of ensuring all pupils have a standard baseline of notes for each module studied, outlining each unit and it’s content. They also contain opportunities for pupils to plan out exam question answers, in addition to the exam questions they complete for more formal assessment. The provision of these booklets also helps to ensure that the history curriculum is accessible to all learners.

We cover a wide variety of topics; some exclusively British history and others which examine our place and involvement in other parts of the world. We also study non-British topics at both KS3 and GCSE.



The difference that our curriculum makes to our pupils

The department follows our own version of the SOLO and SPADE school policies, to mark and assess pupil’s regularly at KS3. The SOLO assessments are embedded within the topics across KS3. They do not always appear at the end, as some topics are much longer than others. In between the SOLO assessments pupils complete SPADE exercises, so that the department can continuously track pupil progress and pupils are able to comprehend what they need to do to make progress in history. All assessments at KS3 are designed to familiarise pupils with GCSE style questions – evaluation and analysis, source utility, significance, change and continuity, significance and as well as knowledge and understanding, which are the key skills of the history curriculum.

At KS4 GCSE questions are completed more often. As stated previously, planning for GCSE questions is embedded in the pupil booklets and pupils complete two exam questions per half term, which serve as formal assessments.

The department uses online self-marking retrieval practice weekly knowledge tests in years 10 and 11. These were introduced in class in the academic year 2018-2019 and in part contributed to an increase in attainment at GCSE in 2019: pupils achieving 4+ in 2018 was 44%; in 2019 it was 62%. As a result of lockdown in March 2020, the department took the decision to move these weekly tests online, where they have remained. With the cancellation of exams in 2020 and 2021,  it is not possible to fully know the impact of these retrieval practice tests beyond 2019 public exams. However, the department, in line with what is now whole school thinking and practice, believes that year on year, these tests will have an impact on pupil learning and achievement. For this reason these tests were introduced at KS3 in term three of academic year 2020-21.


KS3Year 7 – Roman Britain / Life in the Middle Ages / The Tudors


Year 8 – / Slavery and its legacy in America and Britain / 19th century Industrial Britain / The British Empire


Year 9 – The First World War / The Second World War / The rise of Hitler in 1930s Germany and the Holocaust / The Vietnam War


KS4Year 10 Medicine in Britain c1250 to Present day / Germany 1919-1939 / Henry VIII and his ministers


Year 11 – Henry VIII and his ministers / The Cold War

GeneralPupils have two lessons per week in years 7 and 8, with one a week in year 9. GCSE pupils have 6 lessons across the fortnightly timetable. We study a variety of subjects – mainly British history but some from other countries too. We focus on history that helps pupils understand the way our society works today and its origins. Assessment is carried out on a half termly basis and is based on developing those key skills of analysis, interpretation and knowledge recall, which are vital to success at GCSE. Those that opt to do history at GCSE then follow the Edexcel History course (modules detailed elsewhere). There is the opportunity to go on the annual Battlefields trip to northern France and Belgium, which complements the medicine module of the GCSE.

DID YOU KNOW? St Thomas à Becket celebrates their highest ever GCSE progress score! Click here to find out more