Inspiring Excellence

‘a GOOD school with Outstanding features’


Our aim at all stages is to treat our students as apprentice historians and then to give them the skills and knowledge they will need to be successful at this discipline and have the ability to investigate, think laterally, evaluate and then reach their own balanced historical judgement. Throughout students’ time with us, the History Team at Coombeshead aim to enthuse, engage and pass on our own passion for this subject!

Key Stage 3 (Years 7 & 8)

Whilst we are teaching Medieval Life or Slavery, we are also sneakily preparing them for History GCSE. From the beginning of Year 7 through to the start of their GCSEs, students are encouraged to see themselves as ‘historians’.

We do this by focusing on the eight different question types that they will face in their GCSE. Regular ‘Exam Buster’ exercises are given throughout Year 7 and 8, these explain how to approach and answer questions such as “Inference”, “Key Features”, “Judgement” and “Portrayal”. These questions promote different types of writing and different intellectual approaches, therefore learning how to handle them is good for all students regardless if they choose this subject as a GCSE option.

Key Stage 4 (Years 9, 10 & 11)

At GCSE students continue to regularly answer example examination questions. As far as possible our learning is also focused around BIG questions in order to help students retain the knowledge. Currently students work on an externally assessed piece of coursework, ‘Life in Nazi Germany’. There are also three examinable units:

Unit 1 – Crime and Punishment through Time. In this unit we learn how attitudes to law and order change across time. The course begins with Roman law and order and then moves through the centuries in England & Wales. Key aspects of study include the move away from public execution through to the ending of the death penalty in the 20th century; the use of humiliation as a punishment; the development of prisons as places of reform and then as places of harsh punishment.

Unit 2 – The American West. This unit covers the rapid movement of the American people west from their original home on the east coast of the continent to their occupation and settlement of the California, Oregon and, finally, the Great Plains. Students also research the parallel story of the Sioux; their way of life, their dependence on the Buffalo and their defeat in the aftermath of the Great Indian Wars.

Unit 3 – The Transformation of Surgery. Perhaps our most gruesome subject! Students begin their study at a time when patients were held down tightly, and all the surgeon could really offer was speed of service. The course ends in a much more modern world where surgery happens in clean germ-free, painless environment. Students have to assess each breakthrough moment in the development of modern surgery and also evaluate the importance of the factors that sped this change, such as war and the development of technology.

Key Stage 5 (Years 12 & 13)

Our Key Stage 5 units have been carefully chosen to enable our young apprentices to ‘graduate’ with top marks! Drawing on the skills that they began learning from their first day at Coombeshead, our students are able to flourish and show true craftsmanship. We have chosen units of history that we feel will best enable this to happen:

Unit 1 – Germany 1918-91. This ‘breadth’ study follows Germany from its troubled post WW1 years through to the fall of the Berlin Wall and subsequent full reunification.

Unit 2 – Mass Media, Popular Culture and Social Change in Britain since 1945. This unit assesses whether the media shapes or mirrors changes in our society since the Second World War.

Unit 3 – America, Boom, Bust and Recovery. In this unit students become expert economic historian understanding the causes of the economic boom and bust, before evaluating the effects of the subsequent ‘cures’ under Roosevelt.

Unit 4 – The Golden Age of Spain. Students follow Spain from its unification under Queen Isobel & King Ferdinand through to its economic and political decline in the later part of their great-grandson Philip’s reign.

Curriculum Team Leader: Mr Balsdon.