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History staff


“Study history, study history. In history lies all the secrets of statecraft.”

– Winston Churchill

KS3 Overview

In Key Stage 3 History, you will study the histories of Britain, Europe and the world more generally from 700 to present, covering topics from the Viking control of England to the impact of the transatlantic slave trade to how equal life in modern Britain really is. You will do this through rigorous historical enquiries which deepen your historical thinking skills and give you an insight into people’s lives. You will learn to be a historian – and how to critique longstanding views about the past. You will go on a journey through History through three key strands: conflict, power and society. You will use these strands to see the changing meaning of these words, as well as British and European society (and broader), to create your own narrative of what has happened.

Key Skills

At both Key Stage Three and Key Stage Four, History develops students’ critical thinking skills when analysing evidence, and assessing how an author’s life experiences can affect their judgements. The subject also develops students’ ability to explain and analyse concepts and events. They will also be able to justify their opinions and ensure that their argument is substantial. Students’ historical skills will be developed, these are the key second-order concepts of: change and continuity, cause and consequence, significance, comparison, and source analysis. By the end of Key Stage Three, our goal is to ensure that every student has the skills to be a ‘proper’ historian.

Students also develop their oral and aural skills, with students’ ability to identify an opponent’s argument – and dismantle it – developing throughout their time at York High School. This is achieved through ongoing debates and presentations.

KS3 Topics

All of our Key Stage Three topics are broken down into enquiry questions, which are answered at the end of a series of lessons.

Year 7:

  • What was life like in Viking England?
  • Why was 1066 such a significant year?
  • How did William establish control of England?
  • Why was the Church so important in the Medieval Period?
  • Was Henry II responsible for Thomas Becket’s death?
  • What kind of King was King John?
  • How hard was life in Medieval England?
  • Why did the Tudors keep changing religion in England?

Year 8:

  • How successfully did Elizabeth solve her problems?
  • Why did England have a Civil War?
  • What kind of ruler was Oliver Cromwell?
  • How did Great Britain gain an Empire?
  • What was the reality of the Atlantic Slave Trade?
  • How equal are the black peoples of America?
  • What changed in Britain between 1750 and 1900?
  • Why is it so difficult to find out about working conditions in the 19th century?
  • Why was the Suffrage Campaign so significant?

Year 9:

  • Did the world go to war ‘by accident’ in 1914?
  • What motivated men to join the army?
  • How typical was Harry Drinkwater’s experience in the trenches?
  • Why was the peace of 1919 so controversial?
  • What triggered the rise of Nazi Germany?
  • Did the Nazis achieve a social and cultural revolution?
  • From whose stories can we learn about the Holocaust?
  • Do the appeasers deserve to be remembered as ‘guilty men’?
  • What was the most significant event of World War Two?
  • Why was the Cold War so tumultuous?
  • Is life in modern Britain really that different?
KS4 Overview

At GCSE, we build on the skills and content developed in Key Stage 3 to give students a broad and meaningful understanding of the past. We use the AQA GCSE specification, where each module is worth 25% of the overall GCSE. Students are examined via two two-hour exams.

The requirement to study a ‘historic environment’ is achieved within the Elizabethan England module; 2020’s historic environment is the Spanish Armada, and 2021’s is Kenilworth Castle.

The modules that we study are:

Paper 1:

AD – America, 1920 – 73: Opportunity and Inequality

BB – Conflict and Tension: The Inter-War Years, 1918 – 1939

Paper 2:

AA – Health and the People: c1000 to the present day

BC – Elizabethan England, c1568 – 1603

Paper 1 is the ‘world studies’ paper, which allows students to study wider-world history, allowing them to broaden their perspectives of the world. It is focused on the twentieth century, with some overlap of key concepts such as ‘the Great Depression’ and ‘Communism’.

Paper 2 is the British History paper, which includes both the broad thematic module, and the British depth study on Elizabethan England. This paper develops students’ understanding of key turning points in British history, and allows them to connect to the bigger story of the past.

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