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 a well-subscribed option at GCSE. We follow the Edexcel specification and provide a good range of topics: in Year 10 we cover Migration to Britain, c700- present and Weimar and Nazi Germany. In Year 11 there is a global focus with Superpower Relations: The Cold War and then an Early Modern History unit with Henry VIII and his Ministers. 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 Edexcel specification is also followed at A-Level. The Year 12 programme follows Communist States in the Twentieth Century with parallel studies of Russia and China. The Year 13 study is Britain: Losing and Gaining an Empire, 1763-1914. Students also produce a 4,000-word coursework essay on change in Civil Rights in the USA. 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.