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 provides our students with the tools to navigate and understand the modern world. 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 in which students complete a series of enquiries under one overarching question in each year.

Year 7

Overarching question: how did empires, trade, migration and belief link Britain to the world between 1 million BC and 1492 AD?

  • Who lived in prehistoric Britain?
  • Why did the Romans build baths in Bath? (local site study)
  • Was the Anglo-Saxon period a dark age or a time of illumination?
  • How significant was the Viking impact on Britain?
  • Did the Normans rule England through fear?
  • How should we explain the First Crusade?
  • How should we remember England’s medieval queens?
  • How did the Black Death change England?
  • Was late medieval Bristol all dirt, squalor and disease?
  • Why is Richard III remembered as an evil murderer?

Year 8

Overarching question: How did revolutions transform Britain and the world between 1492 and 1900?

  • How did Spain become a sixteenth century superpower?
  • How important were religious changes in the sixteenth century?
  • Was Elizabethan England ‘prosperous and powerful’?
  • Why was Elizabeth Clarke executed?
  • What can Dyrham Park tell us about the late seventeenth century? (local site study)
  • How can three towns help us to understand the transatlantic slave trade?
  • Why didn’t Britain have a revolution during the Age of Revolution?
  • How did British rule affect India?
  • How did the Industrial Revolution change people’s lives?
  • What was the significance of the Scramble for Africa?

Year 9

Overarching question: How did political ideologies affect people’s lives in Britain and the world in the 20th century?

  • Why did war break out in the summer of 1914?
  • How useful is the Battle of the Somme for telling us about life in the trenches?
  • Have historians been too harsh on the Treaty of Versailles?
  • What was the significance of the 1918 Representation of the People Act?
  • Did all Americans experience a golden age in the 1920s?
  • Did Communism make everyone in Russia equal?
  • How did Mussolini’s obsession with the Roman Empire affect the way he ruled Italy?
  • Who was responsible for the Holocaust?
  • What can the Corsham nuclear bunker tell us about how the Cold War changed Britain? (local site study)
  • What is Britain’s postcolonial legacy?

Homework projects at KS3 are designed to encourage students to think laterally about the past, by finding out what was happening in another part of the world at the same time as their main topic of study. For example, Year 7 will study Roman Bath in their lessons, while finding out about what was happening in India at the same time for their homework. This is to encourage a curiosity about the bigger picture, and develop the sense that Britain has always been ‘in the world, not the centre of the world’.

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 development of debating and argumentative skills are at the core of our curriculum in KS4, and we want all students to be able to express their own point of view with confidence.

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, Islamic Spain, Sakoku Japan and the fall of the Roman Empire. We aim to foster independent research skills, and try to give all KS5 History students the ability to read critically and make up their own minds using an array of different sources.

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 run a Year 12 and 13 trip to Moscow and St Petersburg.