IMG 0749
Chalke Valley History Festival

'A generation which ignores history has no past and no future' - Robert Heinlein

History is a very popular subject at St Mary’s. Our rigorous approach produces excellent examination results. This dynamic department aims to make History inspiring, challenging and meaningful. We stretch high fliers while enthusing and encouraging all our students. We encourage girls applying to read History to complete an Extended Project Qualification in Sixth Form. We aim to widen the experience of classroom teaching through visits to historical sites such as the annual UIV trip to the Battlefields of World War One. Further afield, the History Department has participated in a trip to China with the Modern Foreign Languages Department in 2016, a trip to Russia in February 2017, and to Germany and Krakow in 2019 for GCSE and A Level students. We use active approaches such as drama, role play and we are leading the incorporation of IT as part of our delivery of this subject.

The Fourth FormIMG 7049

In the Fourth Form we cover a variety of topics and periods to ensure the girls have a good understanding of British and International History before they choose their GCSE options in UIV.

In LIV we study the Medieval period, from 1066 to 1600. In these lessons the girls learn about change and continuity, chronology and significance in a very exciting period: we will do this by looking at the same period in different geographic areas. In the Autumn Term, we focus on English History and the importance of Kingship and Religion with the Battle of Hastings, King John and the Magna Carta. In the Spring Term, we look at the impact of the Tudors and the break with the Church of Rome. In the Summer Term, we move to study the Africa Kingdoms 400-1600, focusing on the Kingdom of Mali.

In MIV we continue chronologically on from LIV by studying The English Civil War, considering the developments in the nature of Kingship and Religion. The girls go on to study the slave trade and the British involvement. We then look at the developments of the British Empire in tandem with the impact of the Industrial Revolution and how the two areas coincide.

Finally, in UIV the girls have a modern and international focus for their studies. We start off learning about the causes and consequences of the First World War, which is supported by a trip to the Battlefields of World War One in Belgium for all UIV girls. The interwar years are considered and the failures of the Treaty of Versailles considered in learning about the rise of Hitler and the path to World War Two. The Spring Term gives us the opportunity to consider the experiences of African Americans in the 20th Century and the impact of the Civil rights movement in the 1950s and 1960s. We also look at post war social History in the Summer Term.

In UIV we also offer two units in the Humanities lessons, which girls will do in addition to their core History classes. In the first session with us they will look at World War beyond the Western Front, looking at the conflict in the Middle East, Africa and the role of Empire soldiers; this reflects the topic we look at in the first term in History. The second unit is reserved for an extremely important topic to study; the Holocaust.

sam 3077IGCSE

A large proportion of the girls at school do IGCSE History. At St Mary’s we follow the EDEXCEL IGCSE course which offers an excellent foundation for any future study whilst providing a basis for understanding the modern world. They sit two examinations at the end of UV.

We started the new EdexceI GCSE course in 2017 which has the numeric grading system, having found the previous one very suitable. In LV girls will study Russian Revolution 1905-1924, Germany 1918-1945 and the start of the Cold War 1943-1972. We then finish our study of the Cold War and learn about China 1900-1989 in UV.

Our results are always very good at GCSE and reflect the hard work and enthusiasm of the staff and students.

A Level

History is a popular choice at A Level, where we use the AQA exam board. Many girls who take Advanced Level History obtain an A grade. The girls study two examined topics as well as completing a non Examined Assessment (NEA- coursework) in UVI

Unit 1C: Breadth Study - The Tudors: England, 1485–1603

This option allows students to study in breadth issues of change, continuity, cause and consequence in this period through the following key questions:

  • How effectively did the Tudors restore and develop the powers of the monarchy?
  • In what ways and how effectively was England governed during this period?
  • How did relations with foreign powers change and how was the succession secured?
  • How did English society and economy change and with what effects?
  • How far did intellectual and religious ideas change and develop and with what effects?
  • How important was the role of key individuals and groups and how were they affected by developments?

The focus of the breadth study is on historical knowledge, understanding and interpretation of historians’ views.

LVI - Consolidation of the Tudor Dynasty: England, 1485–1547
This course examines the founding of the Tudor dynasty after the Battle of Bosworth and Henry VII’s political manoeuvres to consolidate his rule. We then study the changing fortunes of England under Henry VIII and his turbulent reign, and how that impacted on foreign policy as well as the English people.

UVI - England: turmoil and triumph, 1547–1603
In UVI the girls look at how the period continues with the ‘Mid Tudor Crisis’ under Edward VI and Mary I, and how their policies are effected by events and ideas from the time. We finish by studying the Triumph of Elizabeth I, the original Elizabethan age.

Unit 2: Depth Study - 2N Revolution and dictatorship: Russia, 1917–1953

This unit provides the opportunity to study a period of major change in depth, focusing on key ideas, events and developments.

The focus of the depth study is on historical knowledge, understanding and analysis of sources from the time, looking at provenance as well as content.

LVI - The Russian Revolution and the Rise of Stalin, 1917–1929
In this course, the girls study the course of the Russian Revolutions of 1917, going into greater depth than at GCSE, the course of the Russian Civil war and the development of the Bolshevik State under Lenin. We will also look at the power struggle after Lenin’s Death and the rise of Stalin with the immediate impact this has on the economy and society.

UVI - Stalin’s Rule, 1929–1953
In the second year of study the girls will have the chance to explore one of the most notorious leaders of the 20th Century: Stalin. We will consider the debates around the purges, his cult of personality and the impact of the Great Patriotic War and after.

Unit 3: Non-Examined Assessment: The girls will have a brief introductory course at the end of LVI on two topics before they choose which side to focus on for the NEA (coursework). They will then research their chosen topic and write an extended piece of work which will be handed in during the UVI year. This unit offers an exciting opportunity for girls which will foster their independent learning skills and prepare them for the demands of undergraduate study.

The girls can choose to focus on either:
American Civil Rights 1863-1968 or
Crisis in the Middle East: The Arab-Israeli Conflict 1900-2004

The final summer examination will cover the whole period studied in both years of the course.

Mrs Samantha Handy (Head of History and Politics)