Aims and Philosophy
At St Michael’s we aim to deepen pupils’ natural fascination with the world around them and their own personal origins. We encourage pupils to appreciate the wonders and tragedies of human behaviour over the ages. The syllabus covers local, British and international historical topics. Pupils are taught to study History in a critical manner and to be prepared to make independent judgments about the nature of History. We see History as an attempt to seek truth through the study of evidence and what has been written about events and periods. We want the study of History to foster a sense of national identity among pupils. History offers an understanding of place and alongside this comes a sense of belonging to place. There is intrinsic value in the study of History for its own sake but in addition to this History provides training in critical analysis, literary expression and the evaluation of widely contrasting evidence.
The History teachers are experienced and well qualified. They are experts in certain historical topics but where there are gaps in their knowledge they honestly endeavour to make good these gaps with reading and the sharing of expertise.
Key Stage 3 History
Pupils in Years 7, 8 and 9 study History for 2 lessons a week. The Y7 syllabus covers Medieval England from 1066 to 1485 and The Islamic World from Muhammad to the Crusades. The Y8 syllabus covers Tudor and Stuart England, the French Revolution and an outline of Chinese History. The Y9 syllabus covers the Industrial Revolution and its impact, The Great War and World War Two and Britain and the World since 1945. Each year group goes on a History trip. Recent trips have included the Tower of London, Hatfield House, St Paul’s Cathedral and Hampton Court Palace. Pupils are set written homework once a fortnight. Pupils complete 2 National Curriculum Level tests in each year group. There is an end of Year exam for each year group. Pupils make good progress during Key Stage 3 History with the vast majority of pupils reaching L7 or above by the end of Y9. Each year between 60 and 70 pupils (out of 96) go on to study GCSE History.
Key Stage 4 (GCSE) History
There are 3 GCSE History groups and each group studies the subject for 3 lessons a week. We study the Edexcel History GCSE, with the new specification starting in 2016. The Y10 pupils study a breadth history of Crime over the centuries from c1000 to the present time. This includes a study of crime in the East End of London in the late Victorian era. The Reign of Elizabeth I 1558-1603, Germany 1918-1939 and the Cold War 1945 to 1991 are a mix of depth studies and period studies. All the topics are examined in 3 exams at the end of the course. During the course pupils are set homework once a week with practice assessments along the way. Results are good and every year about 85% of pupils achieve grades A* or A.
Key Stage 5 (A Level) History
There are 2 A Level History groups in Years 12 and 13. Group size varies between about 10 and 15 pupils per group. We study the Edexcel A Level syllabus. Our current Y12 topics are The French Revolution 1774-1799 and Stuart Britain, the Search for Stability 1625 to 1702. Our Y13 topics are Elizabeth I 1558-1603 and Ireland and Britain 1774-1923. Elizabeth is a coursework topic. The other topics are examined at the end of the A Level course in exams which combine essays answers with document studies. We aim to both support and stretch pupils and to foster a genuine interest in the subject. We aim to guide pupils to study History independently, including beyond the syllabus. Results are good with about 90% of pupils achieving grades A*, A or B in recent years. A good number of pupils go on to study History or History related degrees at excellent universities.