History is a subject which informs and challenges, delighting those who engage with it whilst also endowing them with multiple skills.
History is a study of the people and of the world around us; human beings may have been born in different contexts and different eras, but they had the same hopes, dreams and fears as men and women alive today. In our complex 21st-century world, recognising continuity can help us see towards the future and better understand ourselves.
History develops critical thinking and writing skills, training boys to form and defend their own viewpoints and broaden their intellectual horizons. Not only are such skills and attributes sought by top universities and employers, they are also crucial for dealing with the world around us – for sifting information to distinguish between opinion and fact and to identify ‘fake news’. History thus encourages pupils to become lifelong learners and equips them for a huge variety of careers, such as law, journalism and media – in fact, for anything that requires intelligent, analytical and flexible thinkers.
Learning about the depths to which humanity has sunk can be difficult, just as discovering the great feats mankind has accomplished can lift hope for the future. By teaching pupils about both, we help them understand what it is to be citizens of the world and encourage them to see beyond themselves. The study of history contributes to the development of informed, tolerant and respectful young adults who understand the root of people’s differences and the contextual nature of the current world, and who are able to see things from diverse perspectives.
The History department encourages full participation by pupils in lessons, whether in debates, class discussion, group work or role plays. The focus of class and homework ranges from short-answer responses to essay-writing, with a strong emphasis on handling source material. We teach pupils how to work independently and then to present the results of their study to others.
Boys learn to critique information by looking at numerous perspectives and sources. We encourage the use of technology to aid study and research; online journals and texts are frequently utilised. However, the department also believes in the value of books and has an extensive collection.
Academic support is provided through our History Clinic for boys with particular class work or homework issues, through lunchtime revision sessions for GCSE and A-Level students, and through a dedicated programme for sixth-formers wishing to study History at university.
Ample extra-curricular opportunities are offered. Our History Club for Lower School boys has a varied programme, from model-making to historical films, and there are Upper School and Middle School History societies that organise talks by members of staff and outside speakers. The department itself invites in guest speakers, such as Holocaust survivors, and organises visits, including a Year 7 trip to the Tower of London, a Year 8 visit to Hampton Court, a Year 9 visit to Duxford Imperial War Museum and an overnight trip to Ypres and the Somme in Year 9. Sixth-formers attend an A-Level conference on aspects of their course, and there is a trip to Russia, taking in St Petersburg and Moscow.