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February 27th 2017

Spotlight on subject - History

For this issue’s feature on a curriculum subject, we spoke to Mr Ian Gerrard about how History is taught at BHS.    

How long have you been teaching History here at BHS and what is your career history prior to joining us? 

This is my 27th year as a teacher, but Blackheath High is only my second school. This is my fifth year at BHS. Before that I worked at Haberdashers’ Aske’s Hatcham College in New Cross, a state school which is co-ed, but where boys and girls are taught in single sex classes below the Sixth Form. Whilst at Aske’s, I was a History teacher, Head of History, Senior Tutor Upper School, Head of House and Head of UCAS Applications (not all at the same time!).

How is History taught to our students and is it a popular choice at GCSE and A-level?
History is a compulsory subject in the curriculum from Year 7 to Year 9 and then is taken as a ‘humanities’ subject option for GCSE and further study.

As an English Baccalaureate (EBacc) and facilitating subject (more frequently required for university entry than others, particularly Oxbridge and Russell Group), it is a popular choice for both GCSE and A-level, with over 50% of students choosing History at GCSE.

At A-level we follow the AQA board through which students study: Tudors (1485-1603), Crisis of Communism (1958-2000) plus producing a non-examined assessment (NEA).  For their NEA, students have free choice on their subject to study over a 100 year time period.  Recent subjects that our students have chosen include: Causes of World War I, Impact of British Colonialism and The French Revolution.

AQA say, "Our AS and A-level History qualifications have been designed to help students understand the significance of historical events, the role of individuals in history and the nature of change over time. Our qualifications will help them to gain a deeper understanding of the past through political, social, economic and cultural perspectives. The engaging topics available to them throughout the course will provide them with the knowledge and skills they require to succeed as AS and A-level historians."

Every year it is greatly pleasing to see our Sixth Form students leave to continue reading History at degree level, often at Russell Group universities. 

How is History enhanced by our co-curricular programme?
A poignant trip to the battlefields of Northern France and Belguim is arranged, this year being offered to students in Years 9 and 10. 

We are all privileged to live and go to school in this historically rich area of Greenwich and we take our Year 7 students to visit the many historical and cultural sites it has to offer.

Our Politics Society also cover history in their discussions, as does our Middle Eastern Society. 

Some of the Wollstonecraft courses have a basis in history too.
Miss Parsons teaches Year 9 girls a course entitled “How ‘divine’ was the Modernist movement?" (click here to access the feature on this in this issue of HIGHLIFE), in which students discover what life was like for young people in the early twentieth century, when the cult of ‘celebrity’ and the ‘it’ crowd developed.  Year 10 students can choose Mrs Maddison’s ‘American Politics’ course which includes studying the role of the Constitution, constructed in the 18th century.  Plus, of course, our bespoke Matrix of Knowledge and Theory of Knowledge academic enrichment courses cover the history of civilisation. 


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