Sir James Smith's School

The History Department

From Year 7 to 11 students will learn about British and European History covering the Roman invasion of Britain over 2000 years ago to the 9/11 attacks of 2001 (as well as a non European society before 1900, the Indigenous People of North America).

Apart from being interesting, History is very useful.  Students will develop skills that allow them to know how people tick, what motivates them, what they think and feel.  They will be able to gather and read different kinds of information and will know how to check it for bias or propaganda.  They will have the opportunity to read maps, graphs and other diagrams, using them to show that they can communicate their ideas verbally, on paper and using ICT packages such as MovieMaker.

We aim to ensure that the History students study here at Sir James Smiths is exciting in the short term, as we know that it will prove useful to them for a long time after they have left.

Key Stage 3 History

In Year 7, 8 & 9 students will have two lessons of History a week. The topics they will study are:

Year 7

Medieval Realms –  British History beginning with the Norman invasion of 1066 and covering events such as the Black Death and signing of the Magna Carta.

If you think you could have stopped William from taking over in 1066 put yourself in Harold's shoes and have a look at this game.

The Romans – From the myth of Romulus and Remus through the Death of the Republic to the invasion of Britain and the Collapse of the Roman Empire, students will have an overview of Roman History. 

For great information and games the BBC website is worth a look.

Year 8

Making of the UK – We start with the Reformation and wives of Henry VIII and end with the Civil War and Act of Union to give students an understanding of how the United Kingdom came to exist.

Indigenous People of North America – Using what evidence exists students will try to piece together how people first got to America and when; how they adapted to their environment and developed in isolation from the rest of the world.  We will then go on to look at how the arrival of Europeans changed things forever before considering the life of Native Americans today. 

There is interesting information here on this topic.

Year 9

Expansion, Trade and Industry – We begin by judging how Britain changed from 1750 – 1900 in a whole variety of ways before examining some of the changes in more depth.  How did Britain get to ‘rule the waves’? What was life like for people and how did it change during the period? More importantly how did people try and bring about changes and improvements and are there any lessons we can learn today from them? These are some of the questions we will address during the Autumn term.

The Twentieth Century World – Students will begin by studying the factors leading to the outbreak of World War One, then go onto look at the consequences of that war and how it can be linked to World War Two.  There will be opportunities to study personal and local History during this unit with the opportunity to visit the Davidstow Moor Airfield Museum.

By the time students have finished Year 9 they will have covered 2000 years of History and have developed key skills which will stay with them throughout their lives.  Hopefully many will choose to continue their study of History at GCSE.

Students in Year 7 and Year 8 will be assessed using STEPS.  To find out more about how this works, please click on the link below.  When the Powerpoint opens, if you would like to view as a Slideshow, select Slideshow from the top bar and then the From the beginning icon on the left hand side of the screen:

STEPS for History    

GCSE History

Sir James Smith's follows the Modern World History GCSE set by OCR.  There are two exam papers which students will sit in the summer of Year 11 and a Controlled Assessment essay worth 25% of the overall grade which students undertake during the Autumn Term of Year 11.

Paper 1:

International Relations 1945 - 1975

This topic covers key events of the Cold War.  We study its very beginnings at the end of the Second World War, consider how close the world came to nuclear Armageddon during the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1961 and how it was a superpower was defeated in Vietnam.

Russia 1905-1941

The second component of Paper 1 explores the world’s first Communist state and compliments our work on the Cold War.  We discover how Russia became  the first Communist State, what impact this made on the 180 million people who had previously worshipped their Tsar and finally how it created one of the biggest killers of the twentieth century, Joseph Stalin.

Controlled Assessment - Germany 1918 – 1945:

This period of German History focuses on the aftermath of the First World War and the rise of Nazism leading ultimately to the Second World War.  We will study the reasons behind the incredible changes that took place and try to understand what the experience for those living through that time must have been like.

Paper 2:

Britain 1890 - 1918

This paper examines student's abilities to use historical sources in a sophisticated way.  The topic through which it does this is a fascinating period in British History when the old order of Empire and position is challenged by the growing confidence of women, the sympathy of others towards the working poor and the twentieth century’s first total war.

Outside of the Curriculum

In addition to the curriculum outlined above, we make sure all students enjoy History through extra-curricular activities and Deep Learning Days.  The department is responsive and adapts the curriculum to take advantage of particular interests or anniversaries.  Over the last year we have done much more work with local and family History with students in Year 8 as TV programmes such as 'Who Do You Think You Are' inspire our students to want to find out more about themselves and their local area. 

Many of our GCSE students go on to study History at A Level and University and the department is always delighted to hear from former students.  This isn't restricted to students, a number of local History teachers completed their initial teacher training within our experienced department and keep in touch to share ideas and resources.  We are a popular and successful department, always looking to do better and would love to hear from you with suggestions for our curriculum or resources we might use. 

Please click on the following links to see the Programme of Study for the different Key Stages:


Latest School News

More News