Teaching and Learning

At Oldfield School, students receive a stimulating and enriching education in History. With a chronological span from the first human migrations to Britain over a million years ago to the EU referendum in 2016, our curriculum encourages students to build their knowledge and understanding by learning from ‘the treasure house of human experience’. Exploration of concepts such as the nature of historical evidence, the causes of historical change, and the reasons behind differing interpretations of the past provide our students with the tools to navigate the Information Age in which we live. Students are taught in mixed ability classes and can expect a varied curriculum which seeks to constantly challenge them, with high expectations in place for written work and a particular emphasis placed on reading ‘proper history’.

The Key Stage 3 curriculum follows a chronological model, beginning with prehistoric migrations to Britain, moving through the Roman Empire, the ‘Dark Ages’ (where students debate whether this is the right name to give the Anglo-Saxon period), the Norman Conquest and medieval cultures in England and the Islamic world.

In Year 8 students begin to study differing historical interpretations, looking at the controversial king Richard III, the religious disputes and tumultuous change of the Tudor period, and the effects of the Civil War on the local area. The British Empire in India and the role of the transatlantic slave trade in creating wealth in Bristol and Bath are examined so students can make up their own minds about how we should remember Britain’s imperial legacy. Finally, students look at the causes of the Industrial Revolution and its effects on different sections of society.

Year 9 covers the competing ideologies of the twentieth century, taking in nationalism and the First World War; democracy and women’s rights; capitalism in the USA during the 1920s and 1930s; Communism under Lenin and Stalin; Fascist Italy, the Holocaust and the Cold War.

History is an extremely popular GCSE option; next year there will be 13 teaching groups in Years 10 and 11. We follow the AQA specification, and provide a good range of topics: in Year 10 we cover Norman England 1066-1100 and Britain: Migration, Empires and the People c790-present. In Year 11 there is a twentieth century focus with Germany, 1890-1945 and Conflict and Tension between East and West, 1945-1972.

The AQA specification is also followed at A-Level. Students enjoy revisiting topics from Key Stage 3 in much greater depth: The Tudors 1485-1603 and Russia: Revolution and Dictatorship 1917-1953. Students also produce a 3,000-word coursework essay on change over a 100-year period which can either focus on Civil Rights in the USA or a topic of their own choice. Recent essay topics have included French revolutions between 1780-1871, the Italian Renaissance, women’s rights in Britain and the fall of the Roman Empire.

Study visits and trips

The History department offers a number of exciting trips, including residential visits in Key Stages 3, 4 and 5:

  • There is a Year 9 trip to the First World War battlefields of Belgium and Northern France.
  • We run a Year 11 trip to Berlin to complement the study of Wilhelmine, Weimar, Nazi and Cold War Germany.
  • We are hoping to repeat our successful 2017 Year 12 and 13 trip to Moscow and St Petersburg.