The Blue School History Department seeks to inspire an attitude of curiosity and enquiry within our students by equipping them with an understanding and knowledge of the past as well as the skills to critically engage with it. To do this, we choose topics that aim to give our students a chronological understanding of the past and provide opportunities for them to develop their ability to research, evaluate, and organise a wide range of material. Students learn how to use their findings to construct detailed and rational arguments that are well supported by historical evidence. Students are taught through a variety of different methods including source analysis, role play and group work.

Key Stage 3

In Yr7 we begin by exploring the origins of the ancient world, the Roman Empire. Our focus here is to encourage students to consider where our understanding of the Romans comes from; by using historical evidence we investigate what it was like to live in Rome and to what extent Roman civilisation was ‘civilised’. With this grounding in historical evidence we move on to explore the issues of succession in England in 1066; the Battle of Hastings! 

Our focus in this unit is for students to be able to explain why William of Normandy was successful in his claim to the throne. We then go on to look at how power was consolidated under William, with particular focus on castles. 

Students have the opportunity to make their own Motte and Bailey castle, and to visit Chepstow Castle. We focus on the development of castles over time, and how they were successfully used by Edward I to impose English power on the Welsh. 

After considering royal power, we move back to life in medieval England. We look at the key themes of religion, crime, punishment, leisure and law and order. These topics are similar to those that we covered when exploring Roman life because we encourage students to draw comparisons between the two time periods in order to help them develop an understanding of the concept of change and continuity across time. To complete Y7 we consider royal power once again by looking at the Battle of Bannockburn. Our enquiry focuses on working out whether the Scots won the battle or the English lost it. This question engages students in considering historical arguments and how historians may see the outcome of the battle either way. 

In Yr8 we move onto Early Modern History 1500 – 1900. We continue our focus on Monarchy and Royal power by starting our enquiry into Tudor England. Our overall focus is to engage students in the concept of historical significance by considering how much the Tudors have done for us. Our next unit, Witchcraft, picks up on some features of early Modern life by exploring crime and punishment in this period. We seek to explore why witchcraft became a crime and why it came to such an abrupt end. 

After these two units focusing on big changes, we consider the British Empire and question whether this was a blessing or a curse; picking up on their source skills and developing students’ understanding of historical interpretation. We move then to a more local level of History and delve into the world of Slavery in Bristol. Students have the opportunity to understand the horrors of the slave trade and apply these to their written work. To complete Y8, we move our focus back to life in Britain and we question what changed between 1750 and 1900, developing an understanding of some of the industrial changes Britain faced in this period; here we can draw links to the Y7 units of the Romans and Medieval Life. 

In Yr9 students begin to focus on a number of more challenging topics as we move to the study of Modern History. We start with a focus on the rights of women today and develop that into a study of the suffragettes fight for equality, within this unit there will be a chance for students to question the significance of these events and debate the outcomes. After using sources in the suffragettes unit we move back to focus on causation and begin a focus on the reasons for World War One beginning, studying the events of the war and thinking about the conditions that soldiers endured. We also offer a Gifted and Talented trip to the WWI battlefields that enables students to see the true devastation of this brutal war. 

After we have developed an understanding of World War One, students are able to understand World War Two and put the causes into context; here we debate what the main cause was and develop students’ use of analytical verbs in their oral explanation. Following World War Two, students consider the impact of the Holocaust and question the wider contextual issues that stem from this topic. We finish the year by considering the fight for civil rights in America – once again here we look at significance of both individuals and events in this dramatic period of history. Students are encouraged to be reflective on this topic and to draw their own conclusions. 

Throughout Key Stage 3, students are taught in mixed ability groups and formal assessment takes place at regular intervals, based on the key enquiries which the students study. Students will study five enquires each year to build up their chronological understanding throughout KS3 and will be assessed on five different historical skills each year as well as considering chronology and cultural themes throughout every unit. The assessments are carried out in a variety of different ways, including source analysis, formal writing, and oral presentations. Students use their exercise book for note taking and rough work, all formally assessed work is completed in these too. Students will have to complete project based homework throughout each unit of study; this will often be set and due in two weeks later, to enable students to become independent learners at home and extend on study undertaken in class.

Key Stage 4