“Man is a history-making creature who can neither repeat his past nor leave it behind.” W.H.Auden
“A historical education achieves a number of goals at once: it trains the mind, enlarges the sympathies and provides a much needed historical perspective on some of the most pressing problems of our time.” John Tosh
The History Department at Chigwell aims to encourage an appreciation of the past, promoting the enjoyment of its rediscovery. We encourage our pupils to embrace the study and understanding of all aspects of past human experience, individual and collective.
Through its teaching style, the History Department encourages full participation and enjoyment by pupils in lessons, whether in debates, class discussion, group work, rôle-plays or challenging independent study. The focus of class and homework ranges from short-answer responses to essay-writing, with a common emphasis on handling source material and completing research. We teach students how to work independently and then to present the results of their study to others. Chigwell students are encouraged to question: Do we know for sure? How do we know? Where is the evidence? Can the evidence be interpreted differently? Is the evidence trustworthy?
Our aim at Key Stage 3 is to foster a love of history that will stay with students for the rest of their lives, whether they opt to take the subject at GCSE level or not. There is an emphasis on the skills that history provides for students, and whilst obviously knowledge is hugely important we show that ‘history is just about dates’ is a rather outdated misconception.
The students will study a wide range of historical periods in the years 7-9, with homework being used to broaden the student’s horizons in terms of eras, individuals, countries and events from the past. Students learn about key individuals from William the Conqueror to Martin Luther King, events ranging from the murder of Thomas Becket to the Holocaust and important movements from revolutionaries in France to the Suffragettes.
At the time of writing the current students at GCSE Level are the last who will complete the A*-G grade IGCSE. They study Germany c1918-1945, international relations 1945-1962, the USA 1918-1929 and Conflict in the Middle East c1914-1995.
From September 2017 our GCSE level students will fall into line with the rest of the country and complete their GCSE based on the 1-9 grading system. We will follow the AQA board and the students will study Democracy and dictatorship, Germany from 1895-1945, Medieval England: the reign of Edward I, 1272-1307, Health and the people c1000 to the present day and conflict and tension in Asia, 1950-1975.
At A Level we also follow the AQA syllabus and the students study: The Tudors, England, 1485-1603; in the first year of teaching they study Henry VII and Henry VIII and in the second year we teach them about the reigns of Edward VI, Mary I and Elizabeth I. Paper 2 sees the students study Revolution and Dictatorship, Russia 1917-1953. IN the first year they start with the causes of the February 1917 Revolution and finish with ‘The Great Turn’ under Stalin. In the second year they continue with Stalin’s Russia until his death in 1953. In addition the students complete a 3000-3500 word historical investigation. This year the (roughly) 100 year periods of time have been; America 1865-1975; the British Empire 1865-1965 and Germany, 1848-1948.
We aim to constantly challenge and stretch the students both inside and outside of the classroom, at all levels of attainment and across all Key Stages. Every lesson will have at least one ‘challenge’ activity – an alternative to the main piece of work being completed for students who wish to stretch themselves. In addition to this each of our classrooms has a ‘Challenge Wall’, with tasks designed to stretch the More Able and Talented, these are generally more creative tasks and make the students think about what they have learnt in a different way. Furthermore, students are constantly asked to think and consider alternative views about past events and we pose open ended questions which allow for them to consider ‘big questions’, such as whether Hitler was entirely to blame for the Holocaust, if the dropping of the atomic bombs were justified and whether or not Mary I has been the victim of hostile propaganda. Every lesson will have at least one ‘challenge’ activity – an alternative to the main piece of work being completed for students who wish to stretch themselves.
By encouraging students to enter essay competitions and apply to read history at top level universities we ensure that our students get as much from their time studying history at Chigwell as possible.
The department organizes many activities beyond the classroom, including trips to Ypres and the Somme and Krakow/Auschwitz. Sixth Form students attend A Level conferences in central London. During activities week the department organises for a ‘hands on’ session with an outside speaker.
We encourage students to enter essay competitions and there is of course the inter-house history quiz in the senior school (Penn’s are the current champions).