History is an important academic discipline. It develops critical thinking and writing skills, encourages students to form and defend their own viewpoints and broadens their intellectual horizons – skills and attributes sought by top universities and employers. Perhaps more importantly, the study of history contributes to the development of informed, tolerant and respectful young adults who understand the root of people’s differences, the contextual nature of the current world and who are able to see things from multiple 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 students how to work independently and then to present the results of their study to others.

The Department provides all the core resources students require, including textbooks and handouts. All History rooms have an interactive whiteboard. We encourage boys to use the School's learning resources network, where academic notes, articles from history journals, past papers and mark schemes can be found.

In Year 7, we cover the nature of history as an academic discipline and study broad overviews of world and British history. Year 8 focuses on the theme of revolutions and looks at the Peasants’ Revolt, The English Civil War, The French and Russian revolutions and the Industrial Revolution. The Year 9 theme is the changing nature of war and looks at developments in war from the 14th century to the Second World War. At GCSE, students follow the AQA specification and study Health through the ages, the Norman Conquest, Germany through the wars and international relations during the Cold War.

At Advanced level students study Russia between 1917 and 1953 and the Tudor period through all the monarchs. An independent non-examined unit is completed on Germany over the course of 1848-1945, bringing together their source and historiography skills. 

The History Department offers extensive academic support. There is History Clinic for boys with particular class work or homework issues. Lunchtime revision sessions are offered for GCSE and A-Level students, and there is a dedicated programme for those in Year 12 and 13 wishing to study History at university.

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 from across the school on their area of historical interest and a range of outside speakers. The Department invites in guest speakers, such as Holocaust survivors, to bring topics to life 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 Form students attend an A-Level conference on aspects of their course and there is a trip to Russia, taking in St Petersburg and Moscow.

Year 12 pupils take part in essay-writing competitions and taster days run by several Oxbridge colleges.

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A first-year pupil’s focus on the Grenfell Tower fire took him to victory in the new Lower School History Essay competition.


29/11/2017 - Right to rule: boys trace the history of the School motto on visit to Hampton Court Palace

While Year 8 boys learned much about the gulf separating the past from the present on their History trip to Hampton Court Palace, they did see one thing that was familiar – the royal motto, ‘Dieu et mon droit’.


27/09/2017 - Using Barnet’s history to boost its future: Joseph’s ground-breaking research presented to civic leaders

Sixth-former Joseph Runchman has outlined how Barnet can make the most of its status as the location of one of the key battles in the Wars of the Roses.