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Faculty: Humanities
Past and contemporary societies


“Any fool can make history, but it takes a genius to write it.”

Oscar Wilde

Aims & Philosophy

Our main objective is to generate a life-long interest in and enjoyment of history and to develop each girl’s critical understanding of past and contemporary societies.

Key Stage 3

In Forms I-III History is taught as a separate, compulsory subject. The course is based on Key Stage 3 of the National Curriculum, although as an independent school we do not adhere to this rigidly. The emphasis is on British history, beginning with the Norman Invasion and Conquest of 1066 and ending with the events of 11/09/2001.

Every year, as part of their study of the Twentieth Century World, Form III is taken on a trip to Ypres, touring the battlefields and war graves found in this area of Belgium. The visit forms the basis of a project which is undertaken on their return to school.


At GCSE the department follows the Edexcel International GCSE which is comprised of four units which are externally examined in two papers.

Unit 1: A World Divided: International Relations between the Wars, 1919-39

This unit focuses on the changing relations between the countries of Europe and how the Second World War developed in this period only twenty years after the first.

Unit 2: A Divided Union: Civil Rights in the USA, 1945-74

This unit focuses on the period of hysteria and protest in the USA brought about by the Cold War, Vietnam War and black civil rights.

Unit 3: Russia in Revolution, 1914-24

Students will study the upheaval in Russia in this period which started with the Tsar being overthrown in 1917 and which resulted in the formation of the first Communist government in the world.

Unit 4: Conflict, Crisis and Change: China, c1911-c1989

Students will learn about a period of great change in Chinese History dominated by revolution, civil war and dictatorship. The focus will largely be on the impact of Chairman Mao and his successors’ reforms on the Chinese people.

Results at GCSE are excellent, with 87% of girls being awarded an A or A* in the 2015 examinations and all achieving a B grade or above.

A Level

History is a very popular choice of subject at A Level; we follow the Edexcel A level course which consists of three papers and coursework. Two papers are taught in our Lower Sixth year, while a third paper and coursework are taught in the Upper Sixth year. Paper 1 requires a study of Germany and West Germany, 1918-89, while Paper 2 focuses on the rise and fall of fascism in Italy, c1911-46. Paper 3 concentrates on the British experience of warfare, c1790-1918, while coursework involves an independent historical enquiry on the Tudor State.

Educational visits are organised to complement work undertaken in the classrooms. For example, girls attend study days in London which are relevant to their courses, allowing them to listen to talks given by eminent historians.

Results at A Level are excellent; in 2015 71% of A2 students achieved A* or A grades in History.