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History

Today, we find ourselves in unprecedented times, on the back of a global pandemic and series of national lockdowns. There are tentative steps forward and away from the disruption of the last academic year. With hope that this year will bring a new and better ‘normal’ for all, which will allow greater freedoms and with this, greater opportunities. The History department looks forward to embracing these changes and have already started to plan exciting learning opportunities beyond the classroom confines.

The focus for this year is less on catching up and more on building back stronger. We will be looking to develop disciplinary knowledge of the past, alongside working on the substantive concepts, such as empire, migration etc, which are crucial for pupils to make sense of the past. 

Intent:

During their years at St John’s, pupils will; obtain a greater chronological understanding, increase their historical knowledge and improve their written and oral communication skills. In particular they will know and understand significant aspects of the history of the wider world: including the nature of ancient civilisations. Alongside exploring how people’s lives have shaped this nation and how Britain has influenced and been influenced by the wider world. Indeed, whilst studying local, national and international History, students will be able to develop ever more sophisticated views and opinions of the past.

Implementation

The History department has created a bespoke curriculum in which language skills are developed as students consider abstract terms, such as ‘empire’ and ‘civilisation’, which they revisit in our spiral curriculum to develop their understanding. These are explored through units that focus on different historical (Disciplinary) concepts, such as continuity and change, cause and consequence, similarity, difference and significance. Lessons are taught through an enquiry-based approach, encouraging pupils to recognise how evidence is used rigorously to make historical claims. All of this feeds into pupil’s wider understanding of the current world they live in today, allowing them to leave St John’s as more mature and rounded individuals.

History is taught in mixed ability groups in KS2, where pupils explore the arrival of Romans, Saxons and Vikings to the shores of England, alongside international units on the Kingdom of Benin and Ancient Greece, with a brief local unit connected to WW1. In KS3 we have a top set in each year group, allowing the opportunity to stretch and challenge our most able historians. Assessment is carried out in each unit, sometimes as a knowledge-based quiz, but more frequently as a piece of extended writing, often in response to an enquiry question. Wave 1 interventions are then employed to support any children who slightly underperformed in the assessment tasks, by falling below their aspirational targets. Close relations have been formed with our local high schools, ensuring that there are no repetition of units in KS3 and that our Year 8 topics feed nicely into the GCSE courses studied at High school. There is also some planned extra-curricular collaboration to occur in the summer term.

Impact:

Our bespoke curriculum has created a rich and diverse environment that sparks pupil’s curiosity, allowing them to fully engage in historical enquiry. The blended learning approach that was a key feature last year has provided students with a good quality curriculum in challenging circumstances. The aim is to return to a new normal this year and increase the extra-curricular opportunities in History, which sadly had to be suspended last year. These should help to develop pupil’s passion for History alongside their love of learning.

The quality of written work in pupil’s books last year, alongside the strong performances in class assessments helped demonstrate the excellent progress made by pupils during their History lessons at St John’s. However, the national lockdowns and resultant home learning undoubtedly had an impact on our school cohort, particularly those in Year 8. Yet the endeavours of pupils and staff in the History department to build back stronger, means that the future is positive and that with a renewed commitment to work with diligence and enthusiasm should see pupils fulfilling their potential again this year. It is the commitment to the school motto of ‘do your best’ among staff and pupils alike, that makes me proud to lead this important subject at St John’s.

Curriculum

Year 5

In Year 5 History lessons students begin the year by exploring the question ‘What is History’. This involves a brief unit on the key skills, for example, chronology, source analysis and research. Pupils  practise these skills and revisit them throughout their time at St John’s so they may improve their understanding and raise their attainment.

Secondly, pupils will investigate why the Romans invaded Britain. In the Spring term pupils explore units on how England was settled by the Anglo-Saxons after the Romans left and then investigate their lives. Higher order thinking is encouraged through comparing Anglo- Saxon lives to that of ours today and those of Roman Britain’s. In the Summer Term, pupils study Ancient Greece with focus on both how the Greek empire was created and the amazing impact of Greek civilisation on our lives today.

Year 6

The Year 6 curriculum revisits the story of the making of England, by looking at the seven kingdoms of England. It explores attempts to unite them during and after the reign of King Alfred and the ferocious raids and invasions that the Vikings led. In the spring term, pupils are introduced to the fascinating history of Benin through the study of Benin bronzes. They will use their analytical and communication skills to decide whether the Benin bronzes should be returned to Africa and compare the powerful Oba’s with British monarchs. In their final term of Key stage 2, pupils investigate their own, interesting, local history. We look at how the lives of two brothers, George and Albert Wallace, (both former St. John’s students) and Bromsgrove in general, was affected by the First World War.

Year 7

The Year 7 curriculum begins to focus on Historical skills such as ‘change and continuity’ and ‘interpretation’. It starts by exploring why 1066 was a significant year. Students then study the impact of the Norman conquest, again grappling with the question of significance. In the Spring term, students will explore the power relationship between the church and monarchy, looking at the death of Thomas Becket. Pupils continue with the theme of religion by exploring how the Church of England was formed. In the Summer term, pupils study the subsequent religious upheaval that followed under the remaining Tudor monarchs, up until the Gunpowder plot of 1605. The year ends with an enquiry into the causes of the English Civil War.

Year 8

We begin Year 8 by continuing the story of the seventeenth century and investigating what happened during the English Civil War and its aftermath. Following this, the next topic is the sobering Transatlantic Slave Trade, in which we challenge the interpretation of the BBC Drama ‘Roots’. This is achieved by learning about how and why Africans were captured, how they were taken to America and what conditions were like for them on plantations and slave ships. We then investigate opposition and resistance to slavery, before exploring how it ended in the British Empire and America. Later in the Spring term, pupils consider how Britain changed during the Industrial Revolution. We start the summer term with an interesting enquiry into how some people in society reacted to the Industrial Revolution, which includes a focus on groups like the Luddites and protests like Peterloo. We consider the role of Chartists and draw local connections with the nearby Dodford settlement- part of the Chartist Land Plan. Finally, we complete Year 8 by exploring a thematic unit on Migration. This helps to cement the knowledge pupils have gained in their previous years at St John’s, whilst considering the present day and emphasising the ongoing relevance and importance in studying History.   

 

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