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St Wilfrid's Catholic School


“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”

George Santayana

Faculty Leader for Humanities:       Mr Hector

History Teachers:                                 Mr Digney & Miss Patience

Website:                  St Wilfrid's Catholic School - History


The history team at St Wilfrid’s use an enquiry-based approach to the subject that aims to inspire a passion to understand past events, and to encourage students to think for themselves, to ask questions, to form their own opinions and challenge the ideas of others in an informed way. A key component of the History course, through all Key Stages, is the examination of values such as democracy, equality, and the fair treatment of all. The importance of democracy is measured against oppressive and totalitarian regimes in the modern era, as well as the lack of rights that individuals had in earlier eras. The fight for Democracy and the campaign for the vote for women is looked at in Year 9. Equality of rights in modern Britain are measured against the loss of rights due to slavery in the USA. In Year 12, at A Level, we study the creation and opposition to apartheid in South Africa, the Twentieth Century of the USA, including Civil Rights for African and Mexican Americans, and LGBTQ people. In Year 13 we study Ireland’s battle for freedom from the British Empire, and students research and write a coursework piece on the causes of the Holocaust.


Key Stage 3

History is taught in Years 7, 8 and 9. We study a varied  mix of British and global topics. Year 7 begins with a set of enquiries that introduce the key skills students will need for their history career, and improving their chronological understanding of the period before 1066.The main focus is on the Middle Ages - the Norman Conquest, Medieval Beliefs and Power, and People’s lives. It concludes with a local history enquiry on Crawley.

Year 8 begins with a study of the Early Modern period, with enquiries such as ‘why did Martin Luther’s ideas go viral’. It picks up on the themes started in Year 7, examining Beliefs and Power, and this continues into the next period, that of the Industrial Revolution. Year 8 also features Wider World enquiries on the Silk Roads and the Spanish Empire.

Year 9 begins with a focus on the British Empire and the slave trade, and Wider World focuses on Benin and on US Civil Rights. Moving on to the challenges of the Twentieth century, students study World War One, examples of democracy and dictatorship, including the Suffragettes and the Battle of Cable Street, before moving on to World War Two and a detailed examination of the Holocaust. The year ends with the Cold War period.


The history department is aiming to run a full programme of trips this year, including a Y8 visit to Hampton Court and a two-day trip to the World War One battlefields for Year 9 to enhance students’ learning of this topic.


Key Stage 4

We follow the Edexcel 9-1 GCSE course, which allows us to provide a varied and interesting course with excellent support from the exam board.


There are two trips at GCSE. In Year 10 we visit Hampton Court to help understand Queen Elizabeth’s world and the personal context of her policies and actions. In Year 11 we have a trip to London that includes a guided tour of Jack the Ripper’s Whitechapel, and a visit to the London Dungeon, which gives students a memorable (scary!) experience that helps them understand and remember many of the events, crimes and punishments we study.

Paper 1: Thematic study and historic environment

Crime and punishment in Britain, c1000–present and Whitechapel, c1870–c1900: crime, policing and the inner city.

Written examination: 1 hour and 15 minutes - 30%* of the qualification

Paper 2: Period study and British depth study

The American West, c1835–c1895 and Early Elizabethan England, 1558–88

Written examination: 1 hour and 45 minutes - 40%* of the qualification

Paper 3: Modern depth study

Weimar and Nazi Germany, 1918–39

Written examination: 1 hour and 20 minutes - 30%* of the qualification


Key Stage 5

Our A Level course focuses on modern social and political history. In Year 12 students study ‘Searching for Rights and Freedoms in the Twentieth Century’. This includes the Apartheid era in South Africa and the American Twentieth Century. In Year 13 students study Ireland and the Union 1774-1923, which examines Ireland’s struggle to be free of the restraints of the British Empire. For the independent coursework unit we teach the causes of the Holocaust, and students are encouraged to complete a related coursework enquiry; however, should they have a strong wish to study an unrelated area they may do so.

Paper 1: Breadth study with interpretations

In search of the American Dream: the USA, c1917–96

30% of the total qualification

Written examination, lasting 2 hours 15 minutes.

Students answer three questions: one from Section A, one from Section B and

one from Section C.

  • Sections A and B comprise a choice of essays that assess understanding of the period in breadth.
  • Section C comprises one compulsory question that assesses the ability to analyse and evaluate historical interpretations

Paper 2: Depth study

South Africa, 1948–94: from apartheid state to ‘rainbow nation’

20% of the total qualification. 

Written examination, lasting 1 hour 30 minutes.

Students answer two questions: one from Section A and one from Section B.

  • Section A comprises one compulsory question for the option studied, based on two sources. It assesses source analysis and evaluation skills (AO2).
  • Section B comprises a choice

Paper 3: Themes in breadth with aspects in depth

Ireland and the Union, c1774–1923

30% of the total qualification

Written examination, lasting 2 hours 15 minutes.

Students answer three questions: one from Section A, one from Section B and one from Section C.

  • Section A comprises one compulsory question for the option studied, assessing source analysis and evaluation skills.
  • Section B comprises a choice of essays that assess understanding of the period in depth.
  • Section C comprises a choice of essays that assess understanding of the period in breadth.


The causes of the Holocaust

20% of the total qualification

Students complete a single assignment on a question we set on why the Holocaust happened.

The assignment assesses the students’ ability to carry out a historical enquiry, analysing and evaluating historical interpretations, and organising and communicating the findings.