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History

The main aim of the History Department at FHS is to instill a love of the subject. We aim to make History exciting, interesting and relevant to our pupils whilst providing them with the skills required to enhance their knowledge and understanding of the past, and thus to achieve at the highest level.

History lessons throughout the school involve a large element of discussion and debate, and girls are encouraged to think for themselves as well as to consider and question alternative views when examining interpretations of past events.

The History Department is highly regarded for its enthusiasm, passion and commitment to the subject, and the pupils enjoy the process of becoming historians, knowing that they are experiencing the very best teaching. Over the past few years girls have achieved truly excellent results at both GCSE and A levels.

Staff

The Department is run by Ms F Barton and comprises three other full-time members of staff, Mr H Clayton, Mr P Glavin and Mr D Bryson. Their collective expertise covers a very wide range of periods from Medieval to Modern History.

Curriculum

As an introduction to History at FHS, the course in the Third Year is packed with exciting and colourful events. We look at Medieval England, beginning with the Norman Conquest, and going on to study the conflict between Monarchy and Nobility, Church and Peasants. We focus on life during the Plague, and in the summer term, look further afield at the Crusades.

In the Lower Fourth we concentrate on the key historical events and periods in Britain in the 16th and 17th centuries, such as the Reformation, the English Civil War, the execution of Charles I, the Glorious Revolution and the developing relationship between Crown and Parliament. In the summer term we focus on the social and political changes during the Industrial Revolution.

In the Upper Fourth the collapse of the British Empire is investigated. This is followed by a very popular and detailed study of the First World War, which includes a field visit to the Flanders battlefields, at the end of March each year. In the summer term we turn our attention to the Second World War and the Holocaust.

GCSE

History is an extremely popular GCSE choice at FHS, (90% in 2012). Girls study the OCR Modern European & World History course, with students achieving excellent results: in 2012, 90% of girls achieved an A* or A grade. The course provides a thrilling introduction to the events which helped to shape the modern world with topics studied in Lower Fifth including International Relations 1919-1945 and Nazi Germany. In Upper Fifth our focus is upon early twentieth century British History, including the Liberal reforms, the Suffragettes and the British Home Front in the First World War. 
For coursework we study the Apartheid regime of South Africa, where students complete a range of written tasks, some of which are based on source material.

A level

In the Lower Sixth, the OCR AS course allows the students to experience a variety of historical issues, whilst developing their skills of analysis and source evaluation. One paper focuses on the English Civil War and the other on Italy from 1896 to 1943, incorporating a study of Mussolini's Fascist regime.

For A2, the students are given the opportunity to research a historical controversy in an area that is of particular interest to them, whilst also studying about the rise and fall of Napoleon for a coursework essay on Historical interpretations. A study of 100 years of Russian (1856-1964) is the only unit which is examined at the end of the final year. The department maintains good links with a number of university History Departments and a number of girls each year apply to read History in higher education.

Resources

The History Department has its own classroom equipped with an interactive whiteboard and the latest computer and projection equipment to enable a variety of teaching methods. 

 

Beyond the Classroom

The History Department believes very strongly that learning should take place outside the classroom and given the school's position in the heart of London, we try to take advantage of the rich vein of resources available to us.

The Thirds visit to the Tower of London is always very popular.

The Lower Fourth visit the Museum of London, enjoying the chance to experience the life of a seventeenth century queen.

The Upper Fourth spend three days in Ypres and the Somme, the culmination of a term's study of the First World War. For most girls this is one of the most memorable and relevant trips they go on during their time at Francis Holland. We visit the memorials for the lost at the Menin Gate and Thiepval. We tour the tunnels at Vimy Ridge and walk the battlefield at New Foundland Park. As well as studying in the excellent Flanders Field Museum, girls also spend a muddy hour trudging through some original trenches. A visit to the cemeteries at Tyne Cot and Langemark is saved until last, when the girls are allowed to wander among the grave stones of British, Commonwealth and German soldiers, reading the messages and taking in the atmosphere of these two very different cemeteries. The tour is lightened with a trip to a chocolate store and a hypermarket, which relieves the tension but does not detract from the very strong message they take home about the nature and cost of war.

The Lower Sixth have been thrilled by their visit to the Stuart Gallery at the National Portrait Gallery, which always gives a sense of purpose to their study of the Civil Wars.

We have also run some very successful trips abroad. Over the past few years we have run trips to Russia, taking in St Petersburg and Moscow, the United States (New York and Washington) and Berlin. Most recently the department has lead a tour to Vietnam and Cambodia which was very successful. Highlights included Hanoi, a boat trip in Ha-long Bay, the "killing fields" of Cambodia, the beautiful temples of Ankgor Wat and swimming in the South China Sea. Such visits help the girls to widen their understanding and enjoyment of History, and complement their GCSE and A level studies very effectively.

A generation which ignores history has no past and no future.

Robert Heinlein

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