“To be ignorant of what occurred before you were born is to remain always a child. For what is the worth of human life, unless it is woven into the life of our ancestors by the records of history?”
Through the study of History, the History department at Eckington School strives to develop the student as an individual thinker. Our ambition is that students leave us better able to interpret our present world with insight and wisdom. As a result, we believe that they will be able to make informed decisions affecting their own futures, as well as those affecting society more widely.
The History Department
Our main teaching and learning objective is to develop “outstanding thinkers”: people who never take anything at face value and who always require a justification for any course of action. We aim to lay firm foundations in the skills of historical thinking before building on these with the subject content of the GCSE course. We begin preparing our students for their GCSE success from the moment they join us in Year 7.
Three pillars run through our curriculum: causality, use of evidence and communication. Students will learn how to explain why events occur in human affairs. They will learn how to handle historical evidence. They will learn how to communicate their conclusions in high quality written English. The History department prides itself on the high standard of written communication we expect from our students.
Year Group Topics studied
This year is devoted to the study of medieval England. We learn how the Normans conquered England and re-shaped government and society by introducing the feudal system. We then learn how this system was gradually eroded as power gradually shifted from the monarchy to the nobility before the feudal system was fatally undermined by the Black Death. This is the foundation layer for our GCSE course of “Power, Politics and the People”.
We also study the Roman Empire – gladiators, chariot racing, the Roman army and the eruption at Pompeii.
Our main learning foci for Year 7 are:
- How to answer a “Why” question citing multiple causes and analysing them by category
- How to use multiple sources, extract their meanings and use quotations. We also begin the process of teaching students how to evaluate evidence
- How to communicate in short, grammatically correct sentences and paragraphs.
This year is devoted to the study of early modern England. We learn how Henry VIII broke from the Roman church and, as a consequence, made Parliament more significant in the affairs of the nation. This led to a power struggle between Crown and Parliament in the civil war of the 17th century and, ultimately, the establishment of a political system where power was shared between monarch and people. This is the second layer of our foundation for the GCSE course of “Power, Politics and the People”. We also study the American War of Independence and inter-leave this with our story.
Our main learning foci for Year 8 are:
- How to answer a “Why” question by creating causal connections and making judgements
- How to evaluate evidence
- How to write an historical essay.
This year is devoted to the study of the modern world. We consider how the UK became a democracy in the 19th and 20th centuries – the Great Reform Act and the Suffragettes. We also study the revolutionary events which gave birth to modernity: the French Revolution and the Industrial Revolution. And, we study the First World War. This completes the foundation for our GCSE in “Power, Politics and the People”.
In addition, we teach our students how to study an historical site and relate it to the historical period in which it was constructed. We study The Monument to the Great Fire of London. This is part of our preparation for our British Depth Study at GCSE: The Restoration.
Our main learning foci for Year 9 are:
- How to analyse causality independently, including in response to a wide variety of question styles
- How to evaluate a range of historical evidence independently
- How to write a variety of historical essays independently.
It is our ambition that students embarking on their GCSE studies should already know how to tackle examination questions and have core historical concepts embedded in their minds.
In this year, we begin our GCSE content:
- Power, Politics and the People: British History 1070-the present
- The Restoration 1660-1685 (including site study)
- Conflict and Tension: International History 1919-1939
Our main objective in this year is to ensure that students can retain and recall the knowledge they need to succeed at GCSE. We spend much time teaching students how to revise and how to recall.
In this year, we complete our GCSE content:
- The USA in the Twentieth Century, 1920-1973
In addition, our main objective in this year is to ensure that students can pass their GCSE. We spend much time teaching students about examination techniques such as timing and question styles.
Year 11 is the culmination of a plan which begins in the first lesson of Year 7.
The A Level History course is aimed at enabling students to understand how the modern world was born. Students will study two taught courses:
- Russia in Absolutism and Enlightenment, 1682-1796. This course aims to introduce students to the history of an alternative culture and geographical space. It helps to explain why Russia is what it is today and why relations between the western powers and Russia are not always the most friendly in modern times. In this course, Russia becomes a major European power and we learn how the ideas of Russia give birth to a society which has values which are very different from those in western Europe.
- The English Revolution, 1625-60. This course aims to engender a depth of understanding about one of the major turning points in British history – the civil war and the rule of Oliver Cromwell. It helps to explain how and why the British constitution developed in the unique way that it did and why this nation rejected the idea of republicanism in contrast to nations such as the USA and France who, ultimately, embraced it.
This is the second part of the A Level course which began in Y12. In addition, students complete an historical enquiry of their own choosing. However, considerable guidance is given in terms of the appropriateness of choice.