History contributes enormously to students’ understanding of the world and its interdependence, achievements and aspirations.
By engaging with history, students understand and appreciate not only the characteristic features and diversity of British society, but of a range of societies, political structures, cultures and beliefs that influenced the actions of people in the past.
A historical understanding is imperative to inform our questions, judgements and decisions about contemporary events and the world in which we live.
We develop lively, enquiring minds that question and construct rational argument, think creatively and independently, and use initiative.
Students develop their research, writing, debating and presenting skills; they work independently and in groups, and all students are actively encouraged to participate in class discussion.
They learn about key historical concepts such as cause, consequence, continuity, change and development, as well as being encouraged to empathise with the values and perspectives of people in the past and from different cultures and societies.
Above all we teach them to think discriminatingly and critically. We place particular importance on the development of independent thought and analytical skills, and the qualities of perception and judgement, while fostering intellectual independence.
In particular, we help students develop the following skills:
- Writing with clarity and precision
- Reading and research skills
- Arguing a case both on paper and in class discussion
- Forming their own opinion and judgement based on the available evidence
- Assessing the reliability and utility of documentary evidence
- A sceptical approach to ‘obvious’ lines of argument
History is consistently the most popular optional subject choice at GCSE at The Perse.
- Learning journey - Years 7-9
In Year 7 students focus on the Medieval world, exploring events such as the Church and Kingship in the Middle Ages as well as major socio-economic events such as the Black Death and Peasants’ Revolt.
In Year 8 students focus on the 16th and 17th centuries, with topics including the German Reformation and the importance of Martin Luther, Henry VIII, the Spanish Armada, Gunpowder Plot and the English Civil War.
In Year 9 students study British history from 1750 up to the outbreak of the Second World War focusing on events such as industrialisation, imperialism, the female suffrage movement and the key events and consequences of the First World War. Students will also study the events of 1919 to 1933 in Germany in preparation for the GCSE course.
- Learning journey - GCSE
Most students choose to continue studying history at GCSE level, with over 140 students currently studying history in Year 10. We cover the following four topics over the course of two years:
- Life in Nazi Germany 1933-1945
- The People’s Health c.1250 to present
- The Norman Conquest 1065-1087
- Viking Expansion c.750-c.1050
- History Around Us – independent study at St Paul’s Cathedral, London
- Providing stretch
We encourage students to deepen their grasp and enjoyment of history with independent study. Each term we set tasks for students who would like to go beyond the curriculum, from considering whether the veneration of Becket is justified to identifying key figures in the campaign to abolish slavery. We provide articles, books and information about upcoming historical documentaries or films, as well as discussing current affairs and their historical context. We run essay competitions, provide the opportunity to write articles for the Middle School History Magazine and encourage and prepare students to enter national essay competitions.
We run an extensive programme of trips which include visits to Berlin and the First World War battlefields. Year 7 students enjoy an annual trip to Northumberland to visit Hadrian’s Wall, Roman Vindolanda, some of the Northumbrian castles and Beamish Museum. During the Easter holiday Year 9 students have the opportunity to visit key First World War sites in Belgium and France. Year 11 students are also given the opportunity to visit Berlin in the Michaelmas half term break. This provides students the opportunity to extend their knowledge and understanding of some of the key events of the GCSE course.
We also run day visits to local museums and historical sites, such as Castle Mountfitchet, the IWM Duxford, Bletchley Park and the American War Cemetery at Madingley.
- Beyond the classroom
We offer numerous opportunities to go beyond the classroom – opportunities that greatly enrich students’ enjoyment of the subject.
History Society meets every two weeks and is available to all year groups. The Society runs a range of different activities, including guest speakers, students’ presentations and even a recent pop-up museum in which teachers and students were encouraged to bring artefacts from home. The Society is well attended and is run by the department’s History Ambassadors. In years 10 and 11 there is also a History Book Group in the Lent and Summer terms which offers students an opportunity to take their interest in the subject further by reading and debating works such as More’s ‘Utopia’, Harris’s ‘Imperium’ and Solzhenitsyn’s ‘One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich’. The History Department will also regularly support events in Cambridge, such as the History Festivals at Wimpole Hall.