Curriculum - Subject Information



History is studied by all students in year 7 to 9. Students can choose to study the subject further in year 10 and 11, as one of their GCSE option choices.

Reason for sequencing the curriculum for every year group in the way it is, and the subject specific/pedagogical approach taken:

The fundamental purpose of a history teacher is to empower students with the confidence to question the world around them, guided by an understanding of past events and concepts and how they have shaped our current societies. We firmly believe that history is not simply factual content; instead this content should be a starting point from which all of our students, no matter their starting point and background, can develop the skills to find answers to their questions and encounter perspectives beyond their own. This rationale is therefore designed to achieve a balance between a sense of historical period/chronology, and the metacognitive skills required to engender lifelong curiosity and learning. The curriculum is therefore structured chronologically with thematic and metacognitive review points embedded, starting with the medieval era and ending in the 20th century.

The key concepts underpinning the teaching at all levels are introduced immediately students join us and thus Key Stage 3 begins with a unit, ‘What is History’, dedicated to explaining and embedding these second order history concepts and skills needed to succeed. The purpose of this is to allow for differing teaching at our feeder primary schools as well as providing an opportunity for our department to have a ‘baseline’ understanding of the new history students’ abilities. As a department we use a wide variety of pedagogical and subject specific approaches with all groups of students. It is important that we accommodate for all students’ needs, and to this end we use strategies such as discussion, debate, note-taking, essay writing, peer assessment, peer teaching, story-boarding, use of ICT and digital media, creative writing and reporting etc. 

Throughout Key Stage 3 and Key Stage 4 we teach students to understand different interpretations, significance, continuity and change, and cause and consequence. Our lessons therefore aim to embed skills in source analysis and comparing interpretations, as well as analysing contextual material to reach substantiated evaluations and judgements. These same skills are assessed throughout the curriculum at increasingly advanced levels and with new content, allowing students of all abilities and needs to build on their prior learning and achieve progress. Throughout the curriculum, we have also incorporated activities which require students to develop their skills in independent and collaborative research. The school’s commitment to literacy is also reinforced in history as we guide students towards effective and balanced communication.

During Years 7-9, students have three history lessons over two weeks. Throughout this process students will be taught key transferable skills including source analysis and evaluation, how to structure and substantiate written essays and how to compare and contrast historical interpretations.

We utilise a wide variety of teaching resources and strategies, including source work, role plays, debates, and written and oral presentations. A variety of textbooks and other resources - including pictures, video, and music-based activities are used to enable students to develop their historical skills and appreciation of the subject. As a department, we make use of metacognitive strategies, including recall and review elements, to ensure students can build on prior learning and develop a deep understanding of the skills within the subject, and to give them the confidence to draw out the thematic links and connections present throughout the curriculum.

How we build on prior learning:

Year 7

What is history?

Key Stage 3 begins with a unit, ‘What is History’, dedicated to explaining and embedding these second order history concepts and skills needed to succeed. This unit allows the department to baseline assess year 7 and embed the skills, concepts and subject-specific language that students will encounter throughout their history learning journey at Stradbroke High School.

Anglo Saxon England and the Norman Conquest.

This unit introduces the main second-order concepts whilst studying a major change within British history, and asks students to consider whether the Norman Conquest really was as significant as it is often presented. This unit allows for some study of the British Isles before the conquest, as recommended by the National Curriculum, and also introduces one of the units we study at Key Stage 4: Anglo Saxon and Norman England. Another benefit of this unit is that it builds on the work that many primary schools do on Anglo Saxon England. We have a rich local Anglo Saxon and Norman heritage in Suffolk and so there is also opportunity to discuss the history of local sites and Anglo Saxon kings.

Could medieval kings do whatever they wanted?

This unit provides students with a solid understanding of the struggle for power and control during the medieval period, including between Church and state. Students will have encountered the power of the Christian Church when they consider the benefit of the Pope’s support for William’s claim to the English throne in the previous unit – thus this unit builds upon this crucial understanding. As well as being absolutely crucial to any understanding of the medieval period, a study of the power of the medieval Church vs. kingship is also critical to students’ understanding of another of our Key Stage 4 units of study: the history of medicine. The medieval Christian church controls education and beliefs for so long that progress in medicine is stymied and thus the impact of the Reformation and the Renaissance are so much more significant. 

Victorian childhood.

Designed to support the work students are covering in their English lessons, this unit considers the lives of the poor during this period. The students will have considered the cause of the peasants revolt in the previous unit, which allows us to discuss and investigate the development of society and state over this broad period to give an opportunity for comparison.

Jewish persecution

Again, this unit is designed to support the students in their English studies, as they begin ‘The Boy in Striped Pajamas’, We introduce here the concept of anti-Semitism through time, including some appalling examples locally. This will become relevant later within the Key Stage 3 history curriculum when we study the Holocaust. There is here an important opportunity to discuss ‘British Values’ and the way in which minority groups (‘immigrants’) are treated and understood in our society.  We also have another local heritage account which is used to engage students – the building of one of our local shopping centres revealed a well into which 17 Jewish men, women and children were thrown by the local population in an attack that demonstrates the harsh and cruel reality of what can happen when groups of people (seen as ‘other’) are blamed for negative events.

Tudor and Stuart exploration

This unit is designed to continue the building of understanding of how and why diversity becomes so much a part of the British experience. Here we will investigate the impact of the Reformation on government and exploration – this really is the beginning of the British Empire! It is so important that students are not left with the impression, at the end of Key stage 3, that ‘black people’ arrived in Britain on the Windrush! Thus, we investigate the experiences of minority groups from the Tudor period – thus setting the scene for our dedicated ‘migration to Britain’ unit in year 8.

Year 8

History of India

Building on the last unit, we continue to investigate empire building and the impact of colonialism. We also introduce here the vital question of whether artefacts taken to Britain during the colonial period should now be returned to their places of origin.
Empire and the transatlantic slave trade

One of the most essential units of history that can be delivered, this course is designed to give a full overview of this tragic trade. We begin with a study of how developed and technologically advanced Africa was before the European nations began this trade. It is important to remove any lingering belief that Africa was somehow ‘behind’ in its development when compared to the British. Again, we can speak of British values when we reference the dangers of groups of people being said to be of a certain set of values or behaviours – thus we spend a lesson considering the justifications that were used for the slave trade. These justifications, so often given by the clergy, build on students' understanding of the role of the Christian Church in England that we embedded in our year 7 units. This unit also provides a solid basis for discussions on racism and therefore is crucial for the understand of the Civil Rights movement. There is a cross-curricular link with the geography curriculum (Tahiti).

America – depression and Civil rights

This unit is again designed to support students in their English studies. They are invited to develop greater contextual understanding of the period covered in ‘Of Mice and Men’, which they now study. Continuing on with Civil Rights in America, this unit is important as it provides a ‘continuation of the story’ we began in year 8 with our study of the Transatlantic Slave Trade. Black people are brought to America as slaves to work on the plantations and in homes, are ‘freed’ by the Civil War and are then subject to discrimination and violence that continues today. The struggle for civil rights and the right to vote allows students to consider the importance of civilian ship and suffrage in a modern democracy. It also gives context to the ‘Black Lives Matter’ movement in America and provides an opportunity for us to compare racism in this country (which means a cross-curricular link with our PSHE curriculum and with ‘British Values).  This unit also provides a basis for our GCSE course: America, Conflict at Home and Abroad, 1954-1975.

We are able to continue our investigation into diversity and racist beliefs as we study our next unit on migration to Britain.

Year 8 concludes with a local study – teasing out the story of our area ‘hidden’ within our local Church.

Year 9

The Great War

Here we begin our study of conflict in the 20th Century. The placement of this unit also means that students are prepared for our Autumn tour to Ypres. Vital to an understanding of 20th Century British history, this thorough investigation into the causes and events of the First World War is always valued by our students. We make sure to include the experiences of men from Empire, such as West Indian and Indian soldiers, thus building on the ethical discussions that have been central to the previous units on diversity within the British Empire. Additionally, our GCSE history course includes a study of the trenches of the First World War and thus this is a useful basis for that inquiry.

2nd World War 

A unit designed to build upon the students’ understanding of the First World War and evaluate the view held by many that there was in fact only ONE world war, but with a 20 year gap in-between! This unit also allows us to spend time on the crucial GCSE skill of evaluation by challenging students to argue for or against Chamberlain’s role in the outbreak of World War 2 

How did the Holocaust happen?

This is a vital unit encompassing the understanding of the dangers of allowing politicians such as Hitler to gain power – there are many contrasts that can be made with politics today! – with the genocidal treatment that resulted from the Nazi rhetoric.  This is possibly the most important period of history that students will study, and provides a vital understanding of the world’s sympathy towards Zionism at this point in the 20th century. Our study of conflict continues with our unit on again providing a basis for America, Conflict at Home and Aboard, 1954-75, this until builds on students' understanding of the Second World War and introduces key concepts that have shaped Europe in the 20th Century.

The following two units are designed to give contextual understanding for key GCSE English texts: Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, and Shakespeare’s Macbeth. These are also engaging and fascination periods of history that allow us to really get to grips with the social changes of both periods.

Key Stage 4 Content:

The Pearson Edexcel GCSE (9–1) in History consists of three externally examined papers. The total qualification mark is 168, of which 8 marks are for spelling, punctuation, grammar and use of specialist terminology (SPaG).
Exam board – Edexcel

Papers and content:

Paper 1

Year 10 (30%)

Medicine Through Time: 1250 - present

Paper 2

Year 10 & 11 (40%)

Super Power Relations and the Cold War: 1941-1991

Anglo-Saxon and Norman England: 1060-1088

Paper 3

Year 11 (30%)

The USA at home and abroad: Civil Rights and the Vietnam War

How we prepare students for the future:

An understanding of the geo-political world in which they live is vital for our young people. We live in an era of confusing conflicts (such as those in the Middle East) that seemingly have no links or connections to us or to each other. We know of political alliances, such as NATO, or conflicts, such as American and Russia, but often do not understand the reasons for them and thus many of the discussions that take place online, on TV and in other media. We believe that our Key Stage 3 history curriculum gives an understanding on British and world history, as one would expect, but we have worked hard to ensure that students are also given the history of and thus reasons for the conflicts and political relationships that they inherit.

Cultural knowledge opens the door to a world beyond our own individual experiences; it gives us a larger world view. Through knowing and understanding the patterns, events and individuals who have shaped our world, our own minds are opened up. Cultural knowledge develops our ability to understand, to reason and to critique; it sparks our imagination and hones our judgement. Skills wise, our curriculum ensures that those students who wish to take A Level history are able to do so with confidence. There are also important links to A Level politics.

Additional provision to support learning:

The department has a rich library of books and a carefully curated collection of academic and magazine articles to support each unit. These collections are designed to be accessed by all students who would like to broaden their understanding of key periods and issues. They stretch and challenge the most able and encourage all students to expand their knowledge and understanding.

We have recently introduced our ‘meanwhile, elsewhere’ approach to each unit will allows for greater contextual understanding of each period we study. At Stradbroke High School we recognise the need for history departments to expand our curricular ambitions whilst working within the time constraints that all subjects face inevitably as part of a rich curriculum. We are using this ‘contextual research’ approach, then, as a way of introducing more global history and a greater contextual understanding. We build on this further in our Key Stage 4 curriculum when students study three units of history, all of which overlap and intertwine and allow therefore for far greater contextual understanding if our students are prepared throughout Key Stage 3 to apply a broader view to the history before them.

The history department offers trips and visits to enhance the students' learning experience. We are an integral part of the ‘Battlefields’ trip to Belgium and Northern France to visit Ypres and the sites of significant battles of the First World War.




Example Key Stage 3 Assessment Skills/Feedback

History Curriculum Map

History Learning Journey

Your browser is out-of-date!

Update your browser to view this website correctly. Update my browser now