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History


At Aston the study of history is not seen as merely the acquisition of information, but also as a subject crucial to the development of the individual students’ self-knowledge and analytical skills. The department aims to bring history alive, giving students an appreciation of the events and people that have shaped the past and, in turn, the world they live in today. 


Staff:

  • Mrs C Cresswell, Head of Department 

  • Mr T. Amann, Teacher of History and Head of Department for Politics 

  • Mrs R Moy, Teacher 

  • Ms A Norris, Teacher


Trips and Visits:

Aston's History Department offers students many varied opportunities to enrich their learning both in and out of school.

In Key Stage 3, students take part in active, hands-on experience days, during which they learn in depth about aspects of history which directly complement their studies in lessons; this includes a Romans Day in Year 7, and a visit to Quarry Bank Mill in Year 8. Students also visit Kenilworth Castle, and a variety of museums around the country, which stretch their understanding of the issues we cover in class. 

For GCSE and A Level students, the History Department is continually looking for additional visits and speakers that effectively support them in their preparation for their examinations. Recently, students have attended lecture days and active study days, which are specially designed to support their revision and deepen their understanding of their history studies. 

Our students are also given the opportunity to go abroad to further enrich their studies; the department has run very popular trips to visit the First World War trenches in Belgium and France for GCSE students, and to Vietnam with AS Level students. As part of the exciting new A Level course, the History Department will be working alongside the Politics Department to provide a fantastic opportunity for sixth form students to visit Washington DC. This is an area that offers a huge amount of potential for the education of young historians, and we are committed to providing further, exciting opportunities for the students. 


Year 7

Summary of curriculum:

Students will start their History education at Aston by considers the questions ‘What is History?’ and ‘How do historians find out about the past?’ which helps them to acquire essential skills such as source evaluation and historical reasoning. They will then move on to study the Roman Empire and the Battle of Hastings. 

In their second term, year 7 students will study aspects of Medieval Britain. In their final term, year 7 students will cover the Tudor period. 

Main topics:
  • Why did the Roman Empire grow? 
  • What was life like during the Roman Empire? 
  • Why did the Roman Empire fall? 
  • Why did William I win the Battle of Hastings? 
  • Why was the Battle of Hastings so significant? 
  • How did William keep control of England? 
  • What was feudalism? 
  • How did castles evolve over time? 
  • How did England change after the Norman Conquest? 
  • Why was King John forced to sign the Magna Carta? 
  • What was law and order like in medieval England? 
  • Who was Robin Hood? 
  • What was the Black Death? Was it a disaster? 
  • What was the Peasants Revolt and why did it happen in 1381? 
  • How powerful was the Church in Medieval times? 
  • What was medieval medicine like? 
  • How filthy were medieval times? 
  • Why was Thomas Becket killed? 
  • What happened during the War of the Roses? 
  • What was Tudor England like? 
  • What was Henry VIII like? 
  • What happened to Edward VI? 
  • Who was Bloody Mary and does she deserve her nickname? 
  • Why was Elizabeth’s reign called the ‘Golden Age’? 
  • Why did the Spanish Armada attack? 
  • Was Mary Queen of Scots guilty of treason? 
  • How much had England changed over the Tudor period? 
Assessment throughout the year:

Work is assessed in accordance with the whole school assessment policy. Each student will complete three common assessment tasks (CATs) in lessons across the year: 

  • Autumn term: the Romans 
  • Spring term: the Battle of Hastings and the Norman Conquest 
  • Summer term: end of year assessment 

These assessments will require the students to apply what they have learnt in their lessons to a series of questions and historical sources. They will be assessed against four criteria: 

  • Historical knowledge: how much detail they know about a certain topic. 
  • Source evaluation and interpretation: how far they can evaluate and analyse historical sources. 
  • Historical analysis: how developed is students' historical reasoning. 
  • Communication: how effectively they can communicate their thinking. 

These assessments are marked by their class teacher and stored in their exercise books for future reference. 

In order to support students in their progress, each class will be assessed every half term in an additional assessment. This could take the form of an essay, independent research project, debate or other piece of work as decided by the class teacher. Students receive feedback from this piece of work that they can apply to their next CAT to improve their grade in history. 

In the final half term of the year, students will complete a project in groups for the House History Competition. 

How parents can support their son’s learning:

To support your son, please encourage him to read around the topics he will be studying in History in year 7. You may also like to support him in acquiring new material to use in his homework projects: this may involve visiting your local library or further research on the internet. 

Able and inspired opportunities:

The department has a wider reading and listening ladder for students to engage in extra research and wider reading around the subject.  

Useful websites:

 

Year 8

Summary of curriculum:

In their first term of year 8, students will study the English Civil War, Oliver Cromwell and the Renaissance period. 

In their second term, year 8 students study the sensitive and controversial topics of the Atlantic slave trade and the British Empire. In their final term in year 8, students study the Industrial Revolution in Britain, with a local study of Birmingham. 

Main topics:

  • Was Guy Fawkes guilty of treason? 
  • Why did Charles I argue with his Parliament? 
  • What happened during the English Civil War? 
  • Why did Parliament win the Civil War? 
  • Why was Charles I executed? 
  • Who was Oliver Cromwell? 
  • Why do people have different interpretations of Cromwell? 
  • What happened in Drogheda? 
  • What was the Renaissance? 
  • Who was the most important Renaissance individual? 
  • How and why did European countries gain empires in the 16th and 17th centuries? 
  • Where was the British Empire? 
  • Was the British Empire great? 
  • What was life like in colonial India? 
  • What was the triangular trade? 
  • What was the middle passage? 
  • Why did people support slavery? 
  • Why was slavery finally abolished? 
  • What happened to Britain in 1750? 
  • Why did the population increase? 
  • What were living conditions like? 
  • How bad was life for children in the mills? 
  • Who were the Luddites, and can we call them terrorists? 
  • What was the Great Stink? 
  • What was life like in the workhouses? 
  • What was Victorian doctoring like? 
  • Who was Jack the Ripper? 
  • What important developments took place during the Industrial Revolution? 
  • What happened in Birmingham during the Industrial Revolution? 
Assessment throughout the year:

Work is assessed in accordance with the whole school assessment policy. Each student will complete three CATs in lessons during the year: 

  • Autumn term: the English Civil War and Oliver Cromwell. 
  • Spring term: slavery and empire.
  • Summer term: end of year 8 assessment. 

These assessments will require the students to apply what they have learnt in their lessons to a series of questions and historical sources. They will be assessed against four criteria: 

  • Historical knowledge: how much detail they know about a certain topic. 
  • Source evaluation and interpretation: how far they can evaluate and analyse historical sources.
  • Historical Analysis: how developed is their historical reasoning.  
  • Communication: how effectively they can communicate their thinking. 

In order to support students in their progress, each class will be assessed every half term in an additional assessment. This could take the form of an essay, independent research project, debate or other piece of work as decided by the class teacher. Students receive feedback from this piece of work that they can apply to their next CAT to improve their grade. 

In the final half term of the year, students will complete a project in groups for the House History Competition. 

How parents can support their son’s learning:

To support your son, please encourage him to read around the topics he will be studying in History in year 8. You may also like to support him in acquiring new material to use in his homework projects: this may involve visiting your local library or further research on the internet. 

Able and inspired opportunities:

The History Department has a wider reading and listening ladder for students to engage in extra research and wider reading around the subject. 

Useful websites:

 

Year 9

Summary of curriculum:

In the first term in year 9, students will consider the causes and events of World War I and World War II, and their impact on Britain.  Following this, they will conduct a study of democracy and dictatorship after World War II. 

After the Easter holidays, students will start to study part of the GCSE History course content. They will focus on conflict and tension between 1919 and 1939. 

Main topics:
  • What caused World War One? 
  • Why did men join the army in 1914? 
  • What was life like in the trenches? 
  • What was life like on the Home Front? 
  • How did Stalin rule Russia? 
  • Why did the Japanese attack Pearl Harbor? 
  • Was Dunkirk a triumph or disaster for Britain? 
  • What was the Enigma Code? 
  • What was life like in Nazi Germany? 
  • How did the Nazis use propaganda to control Germany? 
  • What was the Hitler Youth? 
  • What was life like on the home front in Britain? 
  • What was it like to be an evacuee? 
  • What was the Holocaust? (A six-lesson mini-scheme of work) 
  • Why did America drop the atomic bomb?  
  • How did WWII end? 
  • Who was JFK? 
  • What happened in the Cold War? 
  • What was the Treaty of Versailles? 
  • What was the League of Nations? 
  • Why did the League of Nations fail? 
  • What were Hitler’s aims? 
  • Why did the Second World War break out? 
Assessment throughout the year:

Each student will complete three CATs in lessons during the year: 

  • Autumn Term: First World War. 
  • Spring Term: democracy and dictatorship. 
  • Summer Term: the Treaty of Versailles and League of Nations* 

These assessments will require the students to apply what they have learnt in their lessons to a series of questions and historical sources. They will be assessed against four criteria: 

  • Historical knowledge: how much detail they know about a certain topic. 
  • Source evaluation and interpretation: how far they can evaluate and analyse historical sources. 
  • Historical analysis: how developed is their historical reasoning. 
  • Communication: how effectively they can communicate their thinking. 

In order to support students in their progress, each class will be assessed every half term in an additional assessment. This could take the form of an essay, independent research project, debate or other piece of work as decided by the class teacher. Students receive feedback from this piece of work that they can apply to their next CAT to improve their grade. 

* The third assessment will focus on the students’ understanding of the GCSE content. Their assessments from this point will take the form of practice exam questions. 

How parents can support their son’s learning:

To support your son, please encourage him to read around the topics he will be studying in history in year 9. You may also like to support him in acquiring new material to use in his homework projects: this may involve visiting your local library or further research on the internet. 

Able and inspired opportunities:

The department has a wider reading and listening ladder for students to engage in extra research and wider reading around the subject. 

Useful websites:

 

Year 10

Summary of curriculum:

GCSE History students at Aston follow the new AQA GCSE course. This qualification is linear, which means that students will sit all their exams at the end of the course. GCSE History students must take assessments in both of the following papers in the same series: 

  • Paper 1: Understanding the modern world 
  • Paper 2: Shaping the nation 

Paper 1: Understanding the modern world 

Germany, 1890–1945: Democracy and dictatorship  

  • This period study focuses on the development of Germany during a turbulent half-century of change. It was a period of democracy and dictatorship; the development and collapse of democracy and the rise and fall of Nazism. 
  • Students will study the political, economic, social and cultural aspects of these two developments and the role ideas played in influencing change. They will also look at the role of key individuals and groups in shaping change and the impact the developments had on them. 

All students will also complete the wider world study of conflict and tension, during 1918 – 1939. This depth study enables students to understand the complex and diverse interests of different individuals and states including the great powers. It looks at concepts such as national self-determination, ideas of internationalism and the challenges of revising the peace settlement. It focuses on the causes of the Second World War and seeks to show how and why conflict occurred and why it proved difficult to resolve the issues which caused it. This study also considers the role of key individuals and groups in shaping change, as well as how they were affected by and influenced international relations. 

Main topics:
  • Germany, 1890-1945 
  • Conflict and Tension, 1919-1939 
Assessment throughout the year:

Internal assessment

In order to prepare students for their external exams, students are assessed through the use of practice exam questions throughout their GCSE course. They will complete a variety of exam questions, some of which will be teacher assessed, while others will be self- and peer assessed. Their feedback from these practice questions will allow students to develop both their knowledge and their exam technique. 

Students will also sit three CATs  each year. These will be as follows: 

  • Year 10 autumn: conflict and tension (following revision of content learnt in Year 9) 
  • Year 10 spring: depth study (Germany) 
  • Year 10 summer: mock examination, whole paper 1 
How parents can support their son’s learning:

To support your son, please encourage him to engage in wider reading around the topics listed above. He will also benefit from reading the specification on the AQA website and becoming familiar with the mark schemes for each section of his history GCSE. As he progresses through the course, he will greatly benefit from applying his knowledge to past examination questions, all of which can be found on the AQA History website and from your son’s class teacher. 

Able and inspired opportunities:

The department has a wider reading and listening ladder for students to engage in extra research and wider reading around the subject. 

There are also opportunities to attend A Level-style lecture days that cover parts of the GCSE course. 

Useful websites:

 

Year 11

Summary of curriculum:

Paper 2:  Shaping the Nation 

Thematic study of Britain: Health and the people,  c1000 to the present day. 

This thematic study will enable students to gain an understanding of how medicine and public health developed in Britain over a long period of time. It considers the causes, scale, nature and consequences of short and long term developments, their impact on British society and how they were related to the key features and characteristics of the periods during which they took place. Although the focus of this study is the development of medicine and public health in Britain, it will draw on wider world developments that impacted on the core themes. Students will have the opportunity to see how some ideas and events in the wider world affected Britain and will promote the idea that key themes did not develop in isolation, but these ideas and events should be referenced in terms of their effects on the core theme for Britain and the British people. 

Students will study the importance of the following factors: 

  • war 
  • superstition and religion 
  • chance 
  • government 
  • communication 
  • science and technology 
  • the role of the individual in encouraging or inhibiting change. 

Students will show an understanding of how factors worked together to bring about particular developments at a particular time, how they were related and their impact upon society. 

Students will develop an understanding of the varying rate of change, why change happened when it did, whether change brought progress, and the significance of the change(s). They should also be able to distinguish between different types of causes and consequences, such as short/long-term causes, intended/unintended consequences. 

This option focuses on the following questions: 

  • Why has there been progress in the health of the British people? 
  • How and why has the pace and scale of medical development varied at different times? 
  • What impact has medical progress had on people and society? 
  • How and why have different factors been more important than others for individual medical developments? 
  • What is the significance of key individuals or events in the history of medical development? 

British depth study: Norman England, 1066 to c1100 

This option allows students to study in depth the arrival of the Normans and the establishment of their rule. The depth study will focus on major aspects of Norman rule, considered from economic, religious, political, social and cultural standpoints of this period and arising contemporary and historical controversies. 

As part of this study, students also complete a study of the historic environment related to their British depth study. Students will be examined on a specific site in depth. This site will be as specified and will be changed annually. It is intended that study of different historic environments will enrich students’ understanding of Norman England. 

The study of the historic environment will focus on a particular site in its historical context and should examine the relationship between a specific place and associated historical events and developments. Students will be expected to answer a question that draws on second order concepts of change, continuity, causation and/or consequence, and to explore them in the context of the specified site and wider events and developments of the period studied. Students should be able to identify key features of the specified site and understand their connection to the wider historical context of the specific historical period. Sites will also illuminate how people lived at that time, how they were governed and their beliefs and values. 

The following aspects of the site should be considered: 

  • location 
  • function 
  • the structure 
  • people connected with the site eg the designer, originator and occupants. 
  • design 
  • how the design reflects the culture, values, fashions of the people at the time
  • how important events/developments from the depth study are connected to the site. 

Students will be expected to understand the ways in which key features and other aspects of the site are representative of the period studied. In order to do this, students will also need to be aware of how the key features and other aspects of the site have changed from earlier periods. Students will also be expected to understand how key features and other aspects may have changed or stayed the same during the period. 

Main topics:
  • Norman England, 1066 – 1100 
  • Health and the people, 1000  – present day 
Assessment throughout the year:

Internal assessment

In order to prepare students for their external exams, students are assessed through the use of practice exam questions throughout their GCSE course. They will complete a variety of exam questions, some of which will be teacher assessed, while others will be self- and peer-assessed. Their feedback from these practice questions will allow students to develop both their knowledge and their exam technique. 

Students will also sit three CATs during each year. These will be as follows: 

  • Year 11 autumn 1: Norman England 
  • Year 11 autumn 2: mock examination, a mixture of Paper 1 and Paper 2 
  • Year 11 spring: health and the people 

External assessment

Both units are examined at the end of year 11. The exams will measure how students have achieved the following assessment objectives: 

  • AO1: demonstrate knowledge and understanding of the key features and characteristics of the period studied. 
  • AO2: explain and analyse historical events and periods studied using second-order historical concepts. 
  • AO3: analyse, evaluate and use sources (contemporary to the period) to make substantiated judgements, in the context of historical events studied. 
  • AO4: analyse, evaluate and make substantiated judgements about interpretations (including how and why interpretations may differ) in the context of historical events studied. Second order historical concepts include continuity, change, cause, consequence, significance, similarity and difference. 
How parents can support their son’s learning:

To support your son, please encourage him to engage in wider reading around the topics listed above. He will also benefit from reading the specification on the AQA website and becoming familiar with the mark schemes for each section of his history GCSE. As he progresses through the course, he will greatly benefit from applying his knowledge to past examination questions, all of which can be found on the AQA History website and from your son’s class teacher. 

Able and inspired opportunities:

The department has a wider reading and listening ladder for students to engage in extra research and wider reading around the subject. 

There are also opportunities to attend A Level-style lecture days that cover parts of the GCSE course. 

Useful websites:

 

Year 12

Summary of curriculum:

A Level students at Aston follow the AQA A Level course. Students will study three separate units, each designed to stretch their historical understanding in different ways.

Main topics:

Unit 1: The British Empire, c1857  – 1967 (breadth study)

Students will study in breadth issues of change, continuity, cause and consequence in this period through the following key questions:

  • Why did the British Empire grow and contract?
  • What influenced imperial policy?
  • What part did economic factors play in the development of the British Empire?
  • How did the Empire influence British attitudes and culture?
  • How did the indigenous peoples respond to British rule?
  • How important was the role of key individuals and groups and how were they affected by developments?

Unit 3 : The Development of Civil Rights in the USA (Coursework)

The purpose of the historical investigation is to enable students to develop the skills, knowledge and historical understanding acquired through the study of the examined components of the specification. Through undertaking the historical investigation students will develop an enhanced understanding of the nature and purpose of history as a discipline and how historians work, which will be fantastic preparation for future university study.

Students will study the main individuals and changes that impacted upon the development of civil rights in the USA at the end of year 12, and will then be asked to choose a topic and question for their coursework. They will then complete their research over the summer holidays before writing it up and submitting their work by the February half-term in year 13.

Assessment throughout the year:

Internal Assessment

Throughout their A Level course, students will be required to submit regular essays and extended homework tasks to their teachers in order to track their progress and understanding. There will also be more formal assessments that take place after each key issue has been studied. These will be formed around the questions the students will answer in their A level examinations at the end of year 13, and will be assessed according to the exam board's mark schemes.

How parents can support their son’s learning:

To support your son, please encourage him to engage in wider reading around the topics listed above. Aside from the core texts they have been given for each unit there are a large number of texts available in the school library and the history department. For the coursework unit it is imperative that the students read widely around the subject and are asked to begin reading for the unit at the end of year 12.

Your son should also read the specification on the AQA website (follow link below) and become familiar with the mark schemes for each section of his History A Level. As he progresses through the course, he will greatly benefit from applying his knowledge to past examination questions, all of which can be found on the AQA website and from your son's class teachers. Your son may also benefit from reading other texts such as newspaper articles to gain an appreciation of how to construct a written argument.

Able and inspired opportunities:

A Level lecture days are organised on certain aspects of the course to assist students in deepening their understanding.

Useful websites: http://www.aqa.org.uk/subjects/history/as-and-a-level/history-7041-7042

 

Year 13

Summary of curriculum:

Aston's A Level history students follow the AQA A level course. Students will study three separate units, each designed to stretch their historical understanding in different ways.

Main topics:

Unit 2: The Birth of the USA, 1760-1801 (Depth Study)

Students will study in depth the years in which thirteen American colonies chose to sever their links with Great Britain and thus found the USA. This study explores the concepts of imperialism, mercantilism and legitimate government and encourages students to reflect upon the interplay of forces from below and above, the importance of ideology and the economy in political development and the issues facing those who attempt to challenge an established authority.

Unit 3: The Development of Civil Rights in the USA (Coursework)

The purpose of the historical investigation is to enable students to develop the skills, knowledge and historical understanding acquired through the study of the examined components of the specification. Through undertaking the historical investigation students will develop an enhanced understanding of the nature and purpose of history as a discipline and how historians work, which will be fantastic preparation for future university study.

Students will study the main individuals and changes that impacted upon the development of civil rights in the USA at the end of year 12, and will then be asked to choose a topic and question for their coursework. They will then complete their research over the summer holidays before writing it up and submitting their work by February half term in year 13.

Assessment throughout the year:

Internal assessment

Throughout their A Level course, students will be required to submit regular essays and extended homework tasks to their teachers in order to track their progress and understanding. There will also be more formal assessments that take place after each key issue has been studied. These will be formed around the questions the students will answer in their A Level examinations at the end of year 13, and will be assessed according to the exam board's mark schemes.

External assessment

The students’ final grade for A Level History will depend on their performance in the three separate units:

  • Unit 1: 40%
  • Unit 2: 40%
  • Unit 3: 20%

Alongside their coursework, students will sit two examinations at the end of Year 13, one for Unit 1 and one for Unit 2. Both exams will be 2 hr 30 min long, and will ask students to apply their knowledge to historical sources, as well as write a variety of essays. Students will be familiar with the demands of these examinations through the internal assessments that take place throughout the course (see above).

How parents can support their son’s learning:

To support your son, please encourage him to engage in wider reading around the topics listed above. Aside from the core texts they have been given for each unit there are a large number of texts available in the school library and the history department. 

Your son should also read the specification on the AQA website (follow link below) and become familiar with the mark schemes for each section of his history A Level. As he progresses through the course, he will greatly benefit from applying his knowledge to past examination questions, all of which can be found on the AQA website and from your son's class teachers. Your son may also benefit from reading other texts such as newspaper articles to gain an appreciation of how to construct a written argument.

Able and inspired opportunities:

A Level lecture days are organised on certain aspects of the course to assist students in deepening their understanding.

Useful websites: http://www.aqa.org.uk/subjects/history/as-and-a-level/history-7041-7042