“It is important that we know where we come from, because if you do not know where you come from, then you don’t know where you are, and if you don’t know where you are, then you don’t know where you’re going. And if you don’t know where you’re going, then you’re probably going wrong” – Sir Terry Pratchett
At John Spence Community High School, the history curriculum in Years 7-9 is chronological and is designed to give students a solid command of the history of the nation in which they live, from before the Norman Conquest up to the 20th Century. This study is more than just the study of events, however, as we discover, via the change and upheaval that such events can cause, the birth of the rule of law, democracy, freedom, rights. The study of history should also be the study of mankind and the lessons that can be learned from both the best and the worst examples of what humanity has done in the last one thousand years. It should be about asking big, difficult questions. How can one person make a difference? What is evil? Why do genocides take place? These are some of the issues we encourage students to engage with in history.
In Year 7 we study the impact of the Norman conquest. In Year 8, we range from the religious changes of the Tudor period to the growth of industry and Empire, leading into the First World War. In Year 9, we demonstrate how the end of the First World War created the breeding ground for fascism and the origins of the Second World War. The Holocaust forms a major focus of our Year 9 course. We also introduce the Cold War, a major facet of our GCSE studies.
To progress in history, literacy is crucial and developing literacy skills is inherent at all levels of study. Critical analysis of sources, why some are more useful and convincing than others, is also important. We invest significant effort improving and honing students’ ability to write developed and complex explanations of cause and consequence. Homework at Key Stage 3 will often require independent research and from Year 9 onwards, revision; the ability to learn and then recall and apply factual content is a key skill for exam success.