“History is an unusual discipline. Its core is hard fact that you cannot get away from and have to learn to master. At the same time you have to be deductive, perceptive and imaginative in the use of that fact.” – Dr Christine Carpenter, University of Cambridge
“To remain ignorant of what happened before you were born is to remain always a child.” – Cicero
The History Department aims to give pupils a balanced diet of the detail they need to understand aspects of history, and the skills required to interpret that information. We believe that telling a good story has an important role to play in capturing the imagination, and if we can encourage further reading of historical books, we are delighted. Throughout the School we aim to get pupils to approach tasks with discipline and imagination. We use evidence of different types to encourage good interpretative and evaluative skills, and do not shy away from presenting younger girls with difficult source material, to show the complexity of studying this subject.
Many of the tasks we set involve extended writing. Apart from encouraging good historical skills, this benefits literacy and the ability to develop an analytical argument based on facts. Presentations and role plays also develop communication skills. Pupils are encouraged to communicate their ideas in a variety of ways, including visual work and tasks involving pair and group participation. Research assignments are set for all age groups, often leading to presentations to the class, and there is project work at Key Stage 3.
For pupils in Years 7 to 9 we aim to balance overviews with more in-depth topics. We cover British, European and world topics. Examples include medieval and early modern England, nineteenth century Britain, and the Renaissance in Italy and the World Wars. GCSE students study the twentieth century world (from 1914 to 2000). At A-level, we focus on the Tudor period and the French Revolution and its aftermath. There is also the requirement for Year 13 students to write up the results of an independent study on a topic of their choice.
Visits have included Rochester Castle and Cathedral, the Battlefields of the Western Front, and Paris. The latter gave the A-level students an insight into the French Revolution and its aftermath. We also encourage participation in national and in-house competitions.