In the words of Justice David Brunning, “The study of History is the most rewarding as well as applicable of all arts academic subjects. The rigour of analysis required, sifting and evaluating evidence, and the exposition required to argue a conclusion, stretch the minds of all who are fortunate to study it. The interest and reward are beyond price.“ As shown in the legal profession, we offer History students the chance to develop the analytical tools to critically evaluate the constant tide of data the information age deposits over us. This, combined with an appreciation of the motivations behind human relationships and endeavour, are without doubt among the essential skills of the modern world.
As a department, we expose students to the colour and conflict, characters and controversies that mark the story of mankind. We aim to adopt a variety of innovative and proven traditional teaching methods to immerse students in the study and appreciation of past civilisations. We seek to develop students who instinctively think more deeply, encouraging their intellectually curiosity to appreciate the complexity of the human story. Additionally, we strive to give students the opportunity to nurture a lifetime’s pleasure in discovering the richness of the history of peoples, places, nations-the ruled as well as the rulers. The physical, cultural and intellectual footprints of these stories still surround us everywhere; in books, films, documentaries, political debates, testimony of ordinary citizens as well as across the numerous historic and cultural sites that scatter these Isles and beyond. By examining our past horizons, we also hope to connect students to broader identities and see themselves as part of a global and historically literate citizenry. Our approach as a Department is always to produce a well-rounded and academically engaged cohort, fully prepared for the intellectual and social challenges of adulthood. We aim too at making them discriminating readers and, above all, instill a lifelong love for this highly valued, fascinating and ever-evolving subject.
- Mr Andrew Picknell, Head of History
- Miss Aviyah Butt
- Mrs Vicky Hird
- Mrs Amanda McHugh
- Miss Jennifer Young
Students begin the course by gaining an understanding of the role of Historian as detective before studying elements of local history in Great Glen. They then focus on the society and achievements of the Ancient World (Egyptian and Roman Empires) through artefacts and individual research. Afterwards they examine the Second World War through elements of family history as well as cross-curricular links such as the study of the novel Carrie’s War before examining issues of significance in the reign of Queen Elizabeth II.
Following an introduction to the concept of historical investigation, students conduct a survey of the medieval period from the Norman Conquest post-1066. Anchored to this study are first order historical concepts with notions such as feudalism and kingship are second order concepts such as chronology, change and continuity, cause and effect, significance, similarity and difference. These are explored naturally through studies of the legacy of the Norman conquest, medieval religion, disease and developing interpretations of King John, England’s ‘villainous’ king. Social transformation is examined through the Black Death and the dramatic consequences of the peasants’ revolt. In essence, this year gets to the heart of medieval England as students develop their historical thinking.
Students emerge from the blood and guts of medieval England into a country in transition, reinforcing concepts as they go. Changes to monarchy and religion are explored through the Tudors culminating in the drama of the Spanish Armada invasion of 1588. Students chart development of a changing English politics through the English Civil War and the rise of Parliament’s power against Charles I along with its deadly consequences. Diversity of England is also tracked through a Black British History Unit which tracks the changes in the experience of Black Britons from the Roman times through to the Tudors, Slavery, Emancipation and beyond.
The aim here is an assessment of the Twentieth Century and its domestic and international impact. In an age of Empire, pupils critically address the issue of Victorian imperialism through case studies of India and other colonies before examining the various causes of the First World War, the nature of this tragic conflict. Pupils examine the causes of the Second World War from the role of Hitler's Foreign Policy to British and French Appeasement policies. Completing the year is a study of the various turning points in the Second World War' and examination of the impact of Decolonisation.
The Edexcel International GCSE Course is a two year study that embraces two depth studies (The Development of Dictatorship: Germany 1918-45 and A World Divided: Superpower Relations: 1943-1972), one historical investigation (The Origins and Course of the First World War 1905-18) and a breadth study in change (Conflict, Crisis and Change: China 1900-1989).
In the Sixth Form students begin two AQA units at A Level, one British, one European. Unit One is a breadth study of the transformations and trends of Tudor England from 1485 to 1603 with an emphasis on Henry VII, Henry VIII, Edward VI and Mary I before assessing the seminal reign of ‘Gloriana’ Elizabeth I; Unit Two is a depth study on Russia: Revolution & Dictatorship 1917-1953. It examines the end of Tsarist Russia, the Bolshevik Revolution and the rise of the Soviet Dictatorship under Lenin and then Josef Stalin from 1929. Students explore his grand social projects of the 1930s, victory over Nazism in the Second World War and the difficult international period until his death in 1953. The final AQA unit of A level is a 100 year Historical Enquiry (Non-Examined Assessment) looking at The Arab-Israeli Conflict from 1908 to 2011. There is a brief taught course followed by a written assignment of approximately 3,500-4,500 words that serves as an excellent preparation for university-level research.
The Department arranges various engaging activities for all year groups in our History Society. These range from Historical balloon debates, student presentations, documentaries/films and visits from speakers. Past visits include members of the British Korean War Veterans Association and a former soldier from the Falklands campaign. Student led projects have included a full battle re-enactment of the 1066 Battle of Hastings involving Sixth form scriptwriters and researchers and Lower School actors and narrators. Students have also been able to wear ‘Dark Ages’ clothing courtesy of a visit from a member of Leicester Museum services as well as hearing about unorthodox historical topics such as the history of British professional wrestling.
We also arrange an annual Early Modern Sixth Form History Conference in the summer, attended by local schools, featuring leading Tudor academics such as Professor George Bernard to complement and enhance our A level studies. We have also had visits from World War One historians such as Gordon Corrigan and Jenny Macleod delivering tailored talks to our IGCSE cohort and local residents and last year we hosted a GCSE History Conference on Nazi Germany and the First World War which included a vocational element from OLs on how History helped their career.
The Department also offer opportunities for students to enter prestigious essay-writing and annual debating competitions such as the Historical Association's Great Debate where we have had two national runners up from the school in the past two years. Debating is central to the department’s approach and we run both Junior and Senior Competitions.
In 2022 we directed and hosted the second Leicester History Festival to mark the theme of Empires. The festival featured leading academic speakers on topics ranging from the political turmoil in Hong Kong to Persia and the Cold War as well as travelling educators from the National Caribbean Heritage Museum. Students were able to interact with virtual reality headsets to learn of the Sikh contributions in World War One and outside reenactors and falconers gave students insights into the medieval world of heraldry, falconry (with birds!), archery and medieval woodwork.
Year 7 students have visited Warwick Castle or Lincoln as part of their studies on Medieval England; Year 8 have travelled to the Black Country Living History Museum to understand the onset of the Industrial Revolution on Britain while our Year 9 students will visit the The National Holocaust Centre in Nottinghamshire to better understand the profound impact of the Third Reich’s policies.
At IGCSE, Year 11 students have the opportunity to visit the National Cold War Exhibition at RAF Cosford to understand the military and cultural aspects of that conflict. At IGCSE, students also have an opportunity to embark on a residential tour of the WW1 Battlefields of Ypres and the Somme. The Lower Sixth are able to take advantage of Russian History conferences and there are plans for a London Tudor trip this summer for both years.