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Wonder Secondary History

Wonder Secondary History
Curriculum taught at:

Our vision

History allows pupils to explore the past – and understand how changing accounts of that past have shaped the world.  Through history, children will come to understand their place in the world and appreciate the striking similarities and differences in human experiences across time and place.

History also shows pupils how historians work – how they critically examine evidence, look at different sides of complex arguments, and learn how to test and appreciate new knowledge they learn about the past.

The History department seeks to ensure pupils receive a grounding in British and World history from the medieval period to the present day. In learning this history pupils are taken on progression journey through disciplinary and substantive knowledge to create schemata which ensures that they leave Year 9 ready for GCSEs and leave Year 11 ready for A-Level.

We place great value on both subject knowledge and skills as a basis for developing competence in and an understanding of our subject. We also place great value on extended reading and writing and believe that all pupils can write detailed, analytical and well-argued essays from an early age. We value the qualifications that students achieve but we also want to ensure that we expand the knowledge and skills that students have, beyond those needed to pass the tests.

Curious Through exciting exposition –which includes dynamic teaching activities, storytelling, and engaging ways into historical topics, an enjoyment of history is a key part of our teaching. By developing their enjoyment of history, children become curious to learn more. Through an exciting and popular programme of enrichment events- such as trips to the battlefields, of Europe, sites of local historical significance, guest speakers, and two extra-curricular history groups – we aim to give abundant opportunity for children to satisfy their curiosity.
Knowledgeable The teaching of history is carried out systematically and using an appreciation of chronology. Consequently, pupils are encouraged to make links to prior learning and be original and creative in applying it. As they see learning in history as something useful and something that can be returned to they appreciate its value and develop a deeper respect and appreciation for knowledge.
Cultured Through history children gain a better appreciation of the world’s culture – including its people, its conflicts, and its challenges. By studying world history we ensure that this is as broad a view as possible. In teaching history we build empathy and understanding as well as appreciation for democracy and other fundamental values that help children to become cultured world citizens.

History Curriculum

At Key Stage 3 we believe that by thinking carefully about what we teach pupils and what the powerful knowledge in our subject is, we can create pupils who exhibit a further readiness to understand, absorb and be fascinated by new content.

At GCSE the department follows the AQA History specification and pupil numbers are very strong indeed. The subject is very popular, and we see a strong uptake into A-level. At A-Level we follow the OCR specification and teach courses focusing on Russia between 1894 – 1941, the Wars of the Roses and Tudor Rebellions. Pupils are given a free choice for the personal study element of the course.

Our Teaching

Through our curriculum planning we aim to build as rich a knowledge of history for pupils as possible by balancing the breadth and depth of history they encounter.

By carefully sequencing and returning to key information and knowledge , we aim to ensure it is secure and well-organised in pupils’ minds.  This way, each unit we cover leaves a ‘residue’ of wider knowledge, such as a broad knowledge of the institutions of a period.  This helps pupils over time to develop knowledge of key concepts or chronological knowledge. This knowledge will help them to become effective historians.

Pupils make progress in history by developing:

  • their knowledge about the past (this knowledge is often described as ‘substantive knowledge’)
  • their knowledge about how historians investigate the past, and how they construct historical claims, arguments and accounts (often described as ‘disciplinary knowledge’)

Using a combination of substantive and disciplinary knowledge gives pupils the skill to construct historical arguments or analyse sources.  It helps them to solve problems as well as consider critically, for example, which historical sources may be more accurate or reliable.

The substantive knowledge that children will learn will be helpful in a range of contexts across their studies in history.  For example, some knowledge might be particularly important for what pupils are learning in their current topic or lesson and be of particular use in examining a specific moment of time.  Other historical moments or aspects of knowledge may have a longer term relevance and be significant in helping children understand future learning – for example understanding the process of the signing of the treaty of Versailles after World War One is vital to really appreciating Hitler’s rise to power and the causes of World War Two.

In particular, substantive concepts feature regularly throughout the study of history in a range of contexts.  A pupil might come across the terms such as ‘monarchy’ or ‘empire’ in different contexts.  This will allow them to draw on their secure knowledge of these concepts repeatedly in a number of different contexts and use this knowledge effectively.

To secure these concepts, pupils receive engaging teaching and have the  opportunity to read or hear appropriately challenging historical texts including work by academic historians such as Simon Schama, AJP Taylor and Gordon Corrigan.

Disciplinary knowledge is knowledge of how historians work to investigate the past, and how they build and evaluate  historical claims, arguments and accounts.   Developing pupils’ disciplinary knowledge is done alongside their study of the past.  Disciplinary concepts are carefully sequenced so they are taught alongside topics where these skills can be shown explicitly and they are systematically revisited across their time with us.   These concepts include:

  • cause and consequence
  • change and continuity
  • similarity and difference
  • historical significance
  • sources and evidence
  • historical interpretations

A careful combination of substantive knowledge and disciplinary knowledge lies at the heart of the curriculum.

How families can support

Parents can help by encouraging pupils to take an active interest in the world around them, by following the news (for which the BBC news app is helpful) or having discussions about their learning. This allows pupils to put their learning into a wider context and enables them to add extra details and comparisons into their work. Additionally, supporting pupils with their homework is greatly appreciated and, if they are stuck or need further support, please encourage them to speak to their teacher.

Asking pupils about their studies and encouraging discussion and opinion. Ensuring homework is completed to a good standard. Being aware of deadlines and helping pupils to be organised. Taking an interest in relevant TV programmes which enhance topics covered in school.

Sequencing and Assessment

The curriculum is planned in this way to develop pupils’ chronological knowledge in order to build their ‘mental timeline’ – and so, for example, we begin with study of the ancient world to build on their study of Roman Britain in primary school and use the time period they may be familiar with to introduce some of the more challenging disciplinary concepts required at secondary school.  From here we move systematically through time, making the connections clear as the story of world history unfolds.  This chronological approach ensure children develop:

  • broad characterisations of particular periods
  • understanding of general features of periods
  • knowledge of the chronological order of broad periods
  • knowledge of particular dates and events
  • knowledge of broad developments, links or themes across periods

By taking chronological knowledge into consideration, we ensure our pupils knowledge is connected and complete.  As well as adding meaning to their study by allowing them to make links to prior events, it helps their learning to be securely remembered and easily recalled and drawn on in future learning. 

Our assessment

Assessment in History is built around a ‘mixed constitution of assessment’ which ensures the whole curriculum is assessed. It includes:

  • Recall tests in lessons – recall of short, medium and long term knowledge to test fingertip and hinterland knowledge
  • Enquiry outcome tasks – Extended pieces (essays or equivalent) answering an enquiry question at the end of enquiries. These assess both substantive knowledge and progress within whatever second order domain the enquiry question is based on (disciplinary knowledge).
  • End of enquiry knowledge assessments including:
  1. Timeline tests to ensure chronological understanding
  2. Substantive concept checks – students write short paragraphs summarising the answer to a question about a substantive concept. Eg Explain the difference between fascism and democracy?
  3. Factual knowledge tests – recall of short, medium and long term knowledge. These tests also systematically revisit knowledge from previous units
  • End of year exam with 3 parts:
  1. Multiple choice questions (testing knowledge of the year and checking broad outline knowledge of previous years)
  2. Reading test with single questions: eg. What is Schama arguing?. Comprehension tests knowledge and the ability to discern argument tests familiarity with the types of analysis addressed in enquiries eg. change, continuity, causation etc etc.

One short written essay focusing on a specific second order concept.

  • Curriculum design and teaching are not compromised by ‘teaching to the test’ but rather focus on developing the range, depth and security of pupils’ knowledge to prepare them for future learning
  • Mark schemes and feedback are topic-specific and recognise the interplay between different layers of knowledge in pupil outcomes.
  • Assessment are carefully planned and sequenced to take pupils on progression journey though history’s second order concepts
  • Each assessment is followed by a lesson devoted to improvements and further addressing misconceptions.