Lower School classes have one History lesson per week, and largely follow the national Key Stage 3 syllabus. This suitably prepares pupils wishing to continue studying the subject at GCSE. Following the Year 9 intake, the cohort is split into five academically differentiated sets to allow pupils to receive support appropriate for their level of understanding. A broad range of topics are studied to give pupils a flavour of the subject and determine whether it is right for them as they move up the College.
When asked for words to describe their GCSE History lessons, our Year 10 pupils responded with: “Interesting, important, relevant, fun, challenging and not as hard as I expected it to be.” Perhaps this sums up the subject better than a teacher ever could!
GCSE History further explores where we have all come from and where we are all going. It continues to develop a range of skills which are beneficial across the curriculum. History at Shiplake will follow the Edexcel IGCSE specification. Pupils are taught in small, mixed ability sets, and the subject aims to develop skill that are highly valued by employers, such as focused reading, extended writing, using sources, debating, researching, presenting and public speaking. There is no controlled assessment for the qualification. At the end of the two year course, pupils will sit two 1.5 hour exams, which are likely to be based on Germany 1918-1945, the Cold War, the Fall of Communism in Europe 1979-1991 and China 1911-1989.
Many pupils who achieve a ‘B’ grade or above at GCSE continue studying History in the Sixth Form. A Level historians are encouraged to develop a sense of enquiry, challenge views and dedicate time and effort to research the past. Across the two years, pupils study three units, covering Revolution and Dictatorship, Stalinist Russia and The Tudors, England 1485-1603. The final unit is an internally assessed coursework task, where pupils choose between two topics of historical debate.
In order to be successful, pupils are required to effectively communicate their knowledge and understanding, and must explore the significance of events individuals, issues and societies over time.
The vast majority of pupils go on to university, selecting arts degrees such as History, English, Languages, Economics or Politics. A number of professions including journalism, law, conservation, tourism and politics use historical skills directly, while pupils can apply the skills indirectly to many other careers. The ability to be objective, critical and balanced in our everyday lives is perhaps the greatest contribution which the subject has to offer.