“Study history, study history!


In history lie all the secrets to life and leadership.” (Winston Churchill). History first and foremost teaches you to think about the modern world – why is it the way it is.

History is one of the most well-regarded academic subjects, as well as being one of the most enjoyable due to the range of subjects studied and the depth of learning that takes place each lesson.  History at St Thomas More is a key aspect of each pupils’ learning.

As a department, we value the study of history in helping pupils understand the world around them, in understanding what shaped and influenced it, and to understand the inter-relationship of the factors that have played a role in this.

We also pride ourselves on developing pupils understanding and abilities of how to think critically, to help pupils understand the importance of evidence and to give them the skills and knowledge to be able to critically analyse it as part of an historical enquiry.

As such, we give pupils the key skills, knowledge and understanding to be free thinking, educated citizens of the world in their adult lives. How do we do it? We debate. We argue. All the time.

That is what makes a good historian. We challenge the conventional. We question the accepted view.

We look for the evidence behind every statement. We question the supposed truth, in search of the truth. We use a range of activities and teaching styles, primarily through historical investigations.

We make a lot of use of film and archive material, including original documents, images and cartoons from the eras studied. We make use of group work and role-plays to explore some of the key events and debates. We have access to a range of academic and university texts to help develop your expertise.

Various enrichment activities are organised throughout the year such as visits to historical sites, museums and places of interest; there is at least one opportunity per year group to undertake this. For example, in year 7 we visit Warwick Castle, in year 9 we visit the Imperial War Museum in London.

Within our GCSE studies we visit Berlin in Germany, and at A-Level we visit Washington D.C. and New York in the USA. KS3 At Key Stage Three our study of history is broad and diverse and in line with the National Curriculum.

Our main focus at Key Stage Three is the study of the development of Britain from 1066 to the present day, involving such key topics as the Norman Conquest, the impact of the Tudors, the English Civil War, the Industrial Revolution, and an investigative study into Jack the Ripper. We also take a detailed study of the 20th Century world and its impact on shaping our lives to the present day.

This includes studying both World Wars, the Russian Revolution, the rise of the Nazis in Germany, the Holocaust, and a post-WW2 study. We offer students the opportunity to study a range of different time periods but go far beyond the facts. Students are encouraged to adopt a critical stance on the past; they themselves become the historian and learn to challenge key historical debate as well as develop their own enquiries.

We encourage team work, effective communication, team work, and resilience in all of our schemes of work and have adopted an active learning approach to the study of history. Role plays, media usage and critical source handling are all adopted methods at Key Stage Three. Students learn the relevance of history to their lives and the significance of the past in relation to the future.

The department has an excellent range of texts and textbooks as well as an extensive range of source evidence for students to utilise.

Every child matters in History and we as a department take a strong stance on responsibility for developing the whole child in relation to their personal and historical development; even in Year 7, students begin to develop the skills they need for GCSE studies and beyond. KS4 At Key Stage Four, History is a popular options subject. The History Department teaches the OCR Modern World A which comprises three key areas.

Unit 1

Sees a study of international relations from 1919-2001, looking at the international attempts at peace following the First World War, appeasement and the causes of the Second World War, the causes, crisis’ and end of the Cold War, and the rise of Al-Qaeda and terrorism including 9/11.

There is also a depth study of Germany 1925-1955 on the People and the State, which includes the rise of the Nazis and the collapse of the Weimar Government, the Nazis consolidation of power following the Reichstag Fire, the impact of World War Two and the De-Nazification of Germany following the Second World War.

Unit 2

I is a study of Power and Democracy in  Britain from 1066-2014, which sees students studying such diverse topics as the Norman Conquest, the reign of King John and Magna Carta, the impact of the English Civil War and also the Glorious Revolution, the changing nature of the monarchy and the rise of parliament in the 19th and 20th Centuries.

Unit 3

Sees a depth study on the English Reformation, a subject particularly pertinent to the nature of the school, as well as a depth study on one of five castles (Framlingham Castle, Kenilworth Castle, Carlisle Castle, Stokesay Castle or Portchester Castle.) Students are regularly assessed through core unit assessments as well as through the school’s calendared mock examination series.

The department has a strong history of good GCSE results (80% and higher) and prides itself on encouraging not only achievement but enjoyment of the subject too through critical thinking and active learning principles.

Indeed, in 2016 40% of pupils achieved the very top grades of an A or A*. Assessment Assessment is rigorously carried out in line with the national curriculum and the assessment objectives. Pupils undertake one piece of formally assessed work per unit they complete. These are marked using success criteria which has been shared with pupils for them to actively use.

Diagnostic marking is completed on such assessments and pupils are given clear targets for development. Pupils keep track of their targets, teachers monitor progress and the books are used for standardization. At the end of each scheme the pupils complete a self assessment activity that is closely matched to the assessment objectives taught in the scheme, and set themselves targets.


Extra Curricular

The History Department offers a comprehensive programme of enrichment activities to improve and compliment the overall experience of all students studying History. At Key Stage Three we offer trips to Kenilworth Castle, the Black Country Museum and the Imperial War Museum, and we are keen to offer trips to the battlefields of WW1 and WW2 in Normandy and in France.

At Key Stage Four we run trips to Berlin as part of their GCSE course. In Key Stage Five, there are trips organised to enhance the A Level studies which includes a trip to Washington D.C. and New York, as well as attending historical lectures by leading authorities on our topics, such as Orlando Figes and David Starkey.