History is a popular and highly valued subject at King Edward's. All pupils study History in their first three years and over half of these will take the subject on to IGCSE; at present there are 96 pupils in the 5th form History cohort and 104 in the 4th form. Following from this, we expect about 30 pupils a year to study the subject beyond IGCSE.
The department's attitude towards the teaching of History is based upon two principles:
The firm and passionately held belief that great events in themselves deserve to be studied and that this can, and should, be a cause of huge enjoyment and intellectual satisfaction to those who engage in this activity. Our hope as teachers is both to enthuse pupils during their school days and also to foster a lifelong love of the subject.
The clear and absolute certainty that the study of the past can help to develop vital skills of analysis and communication that will stand our pupils in good stead whatever they might do with their lives in the future.
The most important skills we wish to cultivate are the development of a good memory and the ability to read widely, consider different opinions and write clearly and convincingly. A good memory is the most fundamental skill to develop - collectively and individually our sense of our own identity is bound up with memory.
History is a literary subject and in an increasingly non-literary world it is our responsibility to get the pupils away from the video and into a book. Good factual knowledge and understanding of the past can only come from wide reading. Extended writing is another fundamental skill that has to be maintained. We, along with English and others, must keep the essay alive and this we try to do. That said, we do not want chroniclers; we want our pupils critically to assess the past and develop their own views on which explanations seem most convincing. In this way they develop their own critical faculties and an ability to argue logically.
In the Lower School we shadow Key Stage Three of the National Curriculum, that is to say we look at our island story from 1066 to the twentieth century. However, we are not too prescriptive about the syllabus - what interests the teacher and what works in the classroom must be the criteria for inclusion.
In the Upper School pupils study the twentieth century world and in the Sixth Form British, American and European history in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries with some pupils also having the opportunity to study some medieval and early modern periods.
From the Fourth Year the requirements of the IGCSE examination system take over and naturally it is our aim to achieve the best possible results for our candidates. We feel we have had notable success obtaining good results for both strong and weak candidates, as well as keeping up a good record of entries to Oxford and Cambridge. We attract good numbers into the Sixth Form and quite a high proportion of these wish to go on to read History at University. To see pupils develop a love for the subject equal to our own is a gratifying reward.
1. To enable pupils to study a wide variety of historical periods from political, social, economic and cultural angles.
2. To enable pupils to acquire a firm grasp of chronology.
3. To enable pupils to write about the past accurately, concisely, and in a relevant fashion, using their powers of reason and imagination to arrive at increasingly mature and independent judgements.
4. To enable pupils to read historical texts intelligently and with discernment.
5. To enable pupils to gain a sound understanding of historical periods from a base of reliable factual knowledge.
6. To enable pupils to recognise there can be different historical interpretations of the same event.
7. To enable pupils to use historical sources, both to acquire evidence and to form judgements about their reliability and value.
8. To enable pupils in their studies to relate national or international history to local history, where this is appropriate.
9. To give the pupils some opportunity to use IT in History.
10. To allow pupils in their studies to have a balance between British, European and World History, such that British will predominate over European, and European over World History. The various peoples of the UK will not be ignored in the study of British History.
11. To allow pupils to relate the study of History to other disciplines where there are naturally occurring links in the syllabus.
12. To be aware in the teaching of the subject of the sensitivities of any individual or group, to avoid giving unnecessary offence, and to help pupils to be likewise aware.
13. To help pupils to articulate their thinking orally.
14. To prepare pupils to be able to think and work effectively under pressure of time- this is particularly the case in preparing them for written examinations.
15. To enable the pupils to become ever more resourceful in their pursuit of historical material so that they take on a degree of responsibility for their own learning.