Curriculum Lead:                Mr S Hornby
Staff: Miss J Speakman
  Mrs B Walton





Curriculum Intent

In history, all students at Key Stage 3, and those who choose to study history at Key Stage 4, study a curriculum which equips our students with both powerful knowledge and the skills required to become well-rounded individuals. Our curriculum is structured to nurture a love of history through the development of key historical skills and a depth of knowledge.


Throughout Key Stage 3, students are taught about how different periods, individuals and events have shaped Britain and the wider world. Throughout this chronological study, students will follow a curriculum that has two main themes, or ‘threads’, running through it – Conflict and Power & the People. The conflict theme focuses on how conflict has shaped Britain and the world we live in today. The Power & the People theme focuses on the relationship between citizen and state, and how this has changed over time. ‚ÄčThese themes ensure that all aspects of the national curriculum are covered but also, these themes link to the topics taught at Key Stage 4. The themes are ‘threaded’ throughout our curriculum so that students know why they are learning the different topics and events and ensuring each lesson has a focus on one or both of these themes.


At Key Stage 3, Year 7 students begin with a study of how the Norman Conquest affected Britain, then a study of the power struggles in the middle ages. Students then experience an in-depth study of both the Tudor and Stuart periods. Finally, Year 7s learn about the impact of the Atlantic Slave Trade and how The Industrial Revolution impacted Britain.  Our curriculum is designed to give students a foundation of knowledge for a later study in GCSE history of how power changed in Britain, as well as the reign of Elizabeth I. Year 7s have an additional hour of history each week. This lesson is delivered by the English team and not only adds depth to our history provision in KS3, it also focuses on the importance of literacy.  In Year 8, students continue to study topics with the two themes running through them. They begin with a study of various revolutions and twentieth century dictatorships, followed by an in-depth study of the First World War. The theme of conflict continues with a study of the impact of the Holocaust and the Second World War. Year 8 then concludes with a study of key events from the Cold War, and investigating the significance of a number of our ‘Greatest Britons’, where students will explore the lives and achievements of a number of individuals from modern British history, who have shaped Britain and left a lasting legacy. This curriculum continues to give our students the foundation of knowledge for later studies in GCSE history of the interwar years, the origins of the USA and the change in power in Britain.


Students who choose to study GCSE history in Years 9, 10 and 11, will continue to have the themes of conflict and power and the people within their curriculum.  The Key Stage 4 curriculum engages and enriches students’ experience of studying history. Students develop a secure understanding of chronology, knowledge and understanding of history, apply historical concepts and processes and engage with evidence and interpretations. Students engage with a variety of perspectives, such as political, social and economic, and investigate the contributions of key individuals and groups, for example, those individuals who caused protest during a 900-year study of Power & the People in Britain. Students will be able to draw parallels and make links between the distinct areas of study. Students cover a wide range of themes and cultures across different time periods, from 1920s USA to the late 1500s Elizabethan England, allowing them to enhance their understanding of differences and perspectives over time. Furthermore, students will form independent opinions on a variety of events and historical debates, for example, the main reason for the cause of the Second World War or the justification of following the policy of appeasement.  


As well as ensuring students have a deep knowledge and understanding of the past, we further develop our students through their understanding of second order concepts and the key historical skills they require. Both key stages ensure that students understanding the second order concepts of cause, consequence, significance, chronology, change and continuity. Such an approach enables students to become more confident historians and understand the issues associated with different historical periods. This is also the case with the historical skills we develop within our students, in particular, understanding interpretations and historical sources, as well as writing conclusions and reaching judgements. Throughout both key stages, students are given access to vast amounts of historical sources and interpretations, and over time students become confident with not only reading and understanding opinions, but also why authors would have those opinions and linking these to their historical knowledge.


Our curriculum further builds on historical skills and understanding by ensuring each topic across both key stages has a focus on different substantive concepts to ensure students have access to key historical vocabulary and are able to learn and understand what these concepts are, for example, key terms such as revolution, dictatorship, monarchy, republics, communism, democracy, etc. The substantive concepts ensure our curriculum is developing both knowledge and skills so our students become more confident historians and are able to put their learning into context and better understand the world we live in.


Oracy and reading is a major focus across both the whole school and history curriculum. Our school takes part in public speaking events, both on a regional and national level, and we work closely with the English department to ensure all history teachers are passionate in promoting a strong culture of language use in their classrooms.  Specifically, this involves an appropriate selection of strategies such as ‘no hands up’, ‘stand and speak’ and ‘read aloud’ to encourage all students to develop confidence and fluency in articulating their ideas. Such approaches are in addition to the development of the appropriate use of subject specific vocabulary through the use of information sheets and sources, which are incorporated into every lesson at both Key Stage 3 and 4. Alongside whole school literacy focuses such as Word of the Week, we incorporate a number of reading based homeworks in Key Stage 3. These homework strategies not only help develop students’ level and love of reading, but also develop our students’ awareness of historical terms and prepare them for the study of future topics. Texts used include novels such as War Horse, The Tattooist of Auschwitz, newspaper articles and Horrible Histories books. Furthermore, such reading tasks strengthens the home/school relationship and provides a stimulus for discussions on historical events where reading becomes talked about. Through the constant message that becoming a confident reader is the path to a healthy mind and body, we aim to develop readers who have stamina, imagination and an appreciation of the world around us and how much of this has been shaped by history and the people who have been before us. In addition, a more confident reader allows our students to be able to better read and understand historical sources and interpretations, therefore, making students all round better historians.


We teach our students the power of being able to accurately and effectively express their ideas in writing. The use of effective spelling, punctuation, grammar and structure is a key element of studying history. We equip our students with the skills to plan and write confidently across a range of historical topics and time periods. In addition, we actively promote and encourage students to form opinions on historical debates, as students must be able to form sound judgements and write effective conclusions to these debates. Strategies such as ‘slow writing’, and frameworks such as PEAS and the ‘iceberg’ technique for 16-mark questions, are used by all teachers to guide students on how to structure their written work. Such approaches create confident writers who can develop the detail and depth of their responses, with the knock-on effect that it improves their historical skills.


Students are part of the assessment process and we use both flashmarking’ and whole school AR marking in both key stages to enable students to assess their own work and set their own targets for development. The emphasis is heavily on formative feedback, enabling students to develop their metacognitive skills by taking a proactive role in their learning. Live marking is an intrinsic element of our formative assessment process and allows students to respond immediately with a ‘green pen’ to show progress. The feedback is instant and can be monitored for impact. This approach is further developed using the AR marking policy which encourages students to improve on their work and identify targets to work on going forward. Grades are introduced from Year 9 but, only in specific summative assessments which outline gaps in knowledge and inform intervention approaches.


We place our Key Stage 4 students in mixed ability classes which provides a positive, high achieving environment for every student and fosters an exceptionally high level of self-belief. Those with SEND and / or gaps in their learning are supported through scaffolding and support to access the same curriculum as their peers. Whilst it is the responsibility of teachers to meet the individual needs of each student within their class, revision classes, support sessions, creation of revision resources and mentoring are intervention strategies we use to close the gap; where appropriate they are always used to provide additional support for those students considered as disadvantaged.


Our department highly values continual professional development as all teaching staff have acted as mentors for trainee teachers. We also hone our own practice with the new ideas and approaches they bring. We have always worked collaboratively as a department, through the sharing of resources on Teams and within our own curriculum meeting time. Action research is an integral part of CPD and we regularly discuss, trial and evaluate different pedagogical approaches in order to continually share best practice and develop the way we do things effectively. A major focus this year is the quality of revision resources and improving literacy across the department. We have worked with other institutions on how to develop our curriculums, attending CPD courses on both improving literacy in history and upskilling on the study of different historic environments, as part of the GCSE course, and a member of our history department has also become a marker for the exam board, who has disseminated key learnings from the process to help develop our teaching of GCSE.


Our curriculum mapping is strengthened by offering a range of enrichment opportunities, from day visits to historical sites such as museums and buildings such as Tudor manor houses, to overseas and domestic residential trips to London, France, Belgium, Germany and Poland. Such enrichment for all has been an invaluable way to bring history to life and ensure our students continue to have a lifelong love and appreciation of history.


The knowledge, understanding and skills that studying history brings to a student are invaluable in the future. The reading, writing, skills and concepts developed in history are transferable to many other subjects and offer a sound basis for future study and life in the workplace. The future career choices for students of history are many and varied, including sectors such as media and marketing, law, journalism and teaching. However, it would be a disservice to this subject to limit it to just these sectors as the ability to communicate and understand the world we live in is the foundation for any profession.


KS3 Curriculum Mapping

Updated: 14/09/2023 109 KB
Updated: 14/09/2023 110 KB


KS4 History

History is a humanities options' subject and students must choose to study either history or geography at GCSE. A growing number of academic students are opting to study both subjects at GCSE.  

In year 9, students will study an introductory topic to the history of the USA, from its discovery and independence to the system of government and development of cultures. This will lay the foundations to build upon in the study of the depth study of the USA 1920-73, which is part of the GCSE course. 

In line with all subjects, history assessment is linear to ensure that all GCSE examinations are taken at the end of the course in the summer of Year 11. The two exams taken are:

Paper 1 - Section A - USA 1920 – 1973: Opportunity and inequality

Topics include:

  • 1920s – Economic boom; Roaring 20s; Prohibition; Immigration; Ku Klux Klan; Wall St Crash
  • 1930s – The Depression; The New Deal; Impact of Second World War
  • Post-war America – McCarthyism; Civil Rights movement including segregation, Martin Luther King, Black Power, and progress of Civil Rights
  • The ‘Great Society’ – policies of JFK and Johnson, feminist movement of the 1960s and 70s

Paper 1 - Section B – Conflict and Tension – 1918 - 1939

Topics include:

  • The Treaty of Versailles – aims, terms and impact of the Treaty.
  • The League of Nations – aims and organisation; success and failures; collapse of the League
  • Causes of the Second World War – Hitler’s aims; actions taken by Hitler in the 1930s; appeasement; outbreak of war



Paper 1 - How it's assessed

Paper 1 - Questions

Written Exam: 2 hours

Section A - six compulsory questions (40 marks)

84 marks (including 4 marks for SPaG)

Section B - four compulsory questions (40 marks)

50% of GCSE

Plus 4 marks for SPaG


Paper 2 – Section A – Britain: Power and the People – 1170 to present day

Topics include:

  • Magna Carta; the origins of Parliament; Peasants revolt
  • Uprisings against the crown e.g. Pilgrimage of Grace and Henry VIII; Charles I and the English Civil War; causes of and impact of American Revolution.
  • Reform of Britain – including the Anti-Slavery movement
  • Women’s rights and role of Suffragettes; worker’s rights; development of multi-racial society after WW2

Paper 2 – Section B – Elizabethan England – 1568 – 1603

Topics include:

  • Background of Elizabeth and difficulties faced; life in Elizabethan England
  • Problems faced by Elizabeth - religion; Mary Queen of Scots; war with Spain (Spanish Armada)
  • This topic will also include a study of a specific historical site linked to Elizabeth I.


Paper 2 - How it is assessed

Paper 2 - Questions

Written Exam: 2 hours

Section A - four compulsory questions (40 marks)

84 marks (including 4 marks for SPaG)

Section B - four compulsory questions (40 marks)

50% of GCSE

Plus 4 marks for SPaG


For more details on the GCSE we offer including specification (knowledge and skills needed) and final assessment details, please use the links below.


The KS4 curriculum plans can be found via the link below. They set out the order and length of each unit of work.  Formal assessments take place mid topic, through the use of knowledge based questions, and full written assessments take place at the end of each sub-unit within each unit of study. 

Programmes of Study: History KS4

Updated: 09/09/2022 108 KB
Updated: 09/09/2022 105 KB
Updated: 09/09/2022 106 KB
Updated: 09/09/2022 104 KB


Revision Guides

All students receive a copy of all the revision resources they need from their teacher, however, if students wish to purchase any revision guides the following are the best recommendations:

  • My revision notes: AQA GCSE (9-1) History, Tim Jenner & others. Hodder Education (ISBN: 9781510404045)
  • GCSE AQA History, The Revision Guide, CGP (ISBN - 9781782946045) *not all topics included in this
  • Individual ‘Revision guide and Workbook’ for each topic published by Pearson. ISBNs:

Paper 1 - USA - I9781292242910;     
    Conflict & Tension - 9781292204772

Paper 2 - Elizabeth I - 9781292204802;     
    Britain: Power & the People - 9781292242941

All members of the history department are happy to support their students and will offer their time to pupils at lunchtime and breaks by arrangement. Targeted support will also be provided for identified Year 11 students following tracking and assessment. If you require additional information please feel free to contact me at shornby@bishopr.co.uk or Tel: 01772 600 349