“Who controls the past controls the future.” George Orwell
Our history department endeavours to provide students with a firm foundation of historical knowledge, which encompasses British history from the Medieval period to the present day. Students will be equipped with the ability to handle vast quantities of information, draw interesting connections and tackle problems. Mayfield historians will learn to debate and to reason, deploying examples and engaging with different ideas confidently.
Our approach to history in the lower school is special in its attempts to connect the smaller stories of individuals to the bigger themes of history over time. Through the study of individuals and their lives we look to learn bigger lessons that support school leavers in entering the world as well informed, confident individuals with a broad and detailed knowledge of the past.
In Years 7 and 8 students focus on a wide range of British history between 1066 and 1700, by looking at England, its interaction with the three neighbouring kingdoms and the wider world. Students will use both local and international lenses to look at what people believed, how they lived and how they were governed. Students look at what people believed, how they lived and how they were governed on a local and international level. By exploring these three key issues students will learn about diverse peoples and their interactions over time while developing a breadth of knowledge that will be invaluable to students in their future studies.
In Year 9 students follow the same key themes, looking at British history and its interactions within the wider world, while exploring fundamental issues of how beliefs and daily life changed as well as how the government of the United Kingdom has changed.
After Easter students begin following the content of our first GCSE unit on the USA after 1920. Those opting to continue the study of History in Years 10 and 11 will follow the AQA specification which includes units on International Relations 1919-1939 and the post WW2 history of the United States. Additionally, in Year 11 students will deepen their knowledge of British history through studying units on Medicine and Health over time and life in Norman England. Our GCSE course involves students understanding a diverse range of topics, which is loosely focused on understanding the interaction of government and politics and the impact on the lives of ordinary people.
The sixth form history course follows the AQA A-Level course. Students taking the subject at AS-Level study Britain between 1906 and 1929 alongside the United States between 1865-1920. Those taking the subject to the full A-level, as most of our students do, continue these stories, leaving Britain in 1957 and America in 1975. Students are prepared in the summer term of Year 12 to complete an independent research essay on the stability of the Tudor dynasty as their coursework, which accounts for 20% of their final grade.
The aim of studying Britain from 1906 to 1957 is to understand Britain as it is today. Students will learn the interactions between different socio-economic groups, exploring their interactions, motivations and relationships with the government. New political parties emerge and marginalised groups campaign for their rights. Governments struggled to keep control of the nation during a time of crisis and seeks to manipulate the media to maintain national morale. Strained relations with foreign powers add to what appears to be an exciting picture, though students are encouraged to question whether the drudgery of ordinary life really changed all that much for the average Brit.
Meanwhile, the study of the United States from the end of the Civil War to the Vietnam War is a study in one of power and social cohesion. The United States has been described as a ‘melting pot’ simmering atop/[above] a fire of strong values. Students will be asked to question/consider what those values are, and whether the United States truly deserves the title of ‘United’ at all. They may conclude that the story of the United States is one of a perpetual struggle for rights and insufficient attempts to hold separate peoples together domestically, whilst projecting power abroad. Through the study of historians’ interpretations students will look at the key events while reaching a judgement of their own on the validity of such a view.