History is the study of human motivation – what has made people do what they did in the past when there were so often so many possible options for them? In this way everyone can relate to History; it is about people in the past who are not always that different from us – although as you will see sometimes they can be very different indeed.

Obviously those who teach the subject find it interesting – and that is our aim for the pupils as well. Through a wide variety of teaching methods and a lot of enthusiasm we study both topics and skills.

We look at some of the big mysteries in History; did Richard III kill the Princes in the Tower for example. We devote a whole day of pupil independent learning to look at various suspects that might have been Jack the Ripper.

We look at topics that help us to understand the world today. The Crusades still have an impact on the situation in the Middle East. The Cold War still impacts on Western relations with the Russia.

We look at topics that develop an understanding of human rights such as the Nazi treatment of the Jews.

We look at topics that focus on Citizenship and British values such as the importance of Magna Carta and the English Revolution of the 17th century.

In History pupils develop the skills of developing arguments, finding appropriate and trustworthy facts and try and convince others that their view is correct.

In History pupils develop the skills of source analysis; can you trust what you see or read and hear?

We aim to make History both interesting and fun.

We also aim to be as relevant as possible; the following is an outline of what we offer but every year we look at new topics dependent at times on the background and interests of individual pupils.

Lower School

At Key Stage 3 we cover British History from 1066 onwards, with healthy diversions into other cultures and continents, and all the way up to the events of 9/11 in 2001.

In Year 7 we focus on the Medieval world from the battle of Hastings in 1066 onwards. Topics range from the Black death to the Crusades and from urban history to the relations with Wales and Scotland, from local events in Medieval Lancashire to the study of the African kingdom of Benin at its peak of power. Each year we visit a castle in North Wales and then the pupils make a model castle of their own.

In Year 8 the focus is on the Tudors and Stuarts with all aspects covered from religious persecution in the local area to how contemporary sources on Elizaeth I and Mary Queen of Scots tell us about attitudes towards the role of women. There are also stand alone topics of the Slavery trade, with a visit to the International Slavery Museum in Liverpool, and the Industrial Revolution with a trip to Styal Mill in Cheshire.

In Year 9 we look at the political movements and events that have shaped the modern world. We analyse a whole series of ‘isms’ from liberalism to conservatism and socialism, and from communism to Nazism and religious fundamentalism. An Independent Learning day on the sinking of the Titanic includes Edwardian notions of bravery, the status of women and some unfortunate attitudes towards other countries and races. There is particular focus as well on the two World Wars and how they impacted on the local area from the Liverpool “Pals” battalions of World War One and the effects of the blitz on Crosby and Merseyside. A study of 9/11 also delves into the murky world of conspiracy theories.

History is regularly the most popular option choice at the end of Year 9 for GCSE.


GCSE History is the OCR Modern World option. There are four examined units:

Explaining the Modern World; International Relations 1918-1975

We cover from the end of World War One to the causes of World War Two, the nuclear rivalry between the USA and Communist Russia, Cuba and Vietnam and the end of the Cold War. We visit the Cold War museum at RAF Cosford.

The USA 1919-48

The USA continues to be the richest and most influential country in the world. We look at mass production and advertising in the 1920s, flapper women and gangsters such as Al Capone, the Wall Street Crash and the New Deal. We regularly organise a trip to New York and Washington.

British Thematic Study; Patterns of Migration c.1066 – 2010

Everything you ever needed to know about the reasons for migration to Britain, the reception of migrants and their impact on society. Amongst others we look at the Normans, the Jews, the Irish, refugees from Hitler and post World War Two Commonwealth arrivals. Find out about Britain’s favourite food (and it is not fish and chips which is a German invention).

British Depth Study & The Historic Environment

Two in depth studies here:

England and the wider world 1688- 1730s; Jacobite rising in Scotland, the shame of the slave trade and the growth of racism.

Port cities; migration to and life in the Spitalfields area of London.

A Level

History is one of the most popular subjects at A Level at St. Mary’s. Taking pupils from across the ability range, we aim for you to achieve your target grade and more. If you can manage the skills of source analysis and argument-based written work at GCSE, then you can manage the extension of the same skills at A Level. Indeed it is possible to take A Level History without having done GCSE History.

A Level History is once again with OCR and the four modules that you will study have been chosen because they are relevant to the modern world and because we think they are of interest:

Britain between 1930 – 1997

We begin with an in depth study of Winston Churchill from the “Wilderness Years” of the 1930s to his time as Prime Minister in World War Two and beyond. We then cover all aspects of Britain’s supposed decline in the 1950s to 1970s and the controversial period of government under Margaret Thatcher. We finish with Britain’s role in the world in the second half of the 20th century.

The Crusades and the Crusader States 1095 – 1192

This is a topic which is very relevant to the world today and especially present events in the Middle East. We consider the motives for the Western crusaders, their clashes with the various Muslim groups in the first series of crusades and the cultural clashes between the Christian kingdom of Outremer and its neighbours.

Civil Rights in the USA 1865 – 1992

This module looks at the progress in – and frequent set backs – for various groups in the USA. The main focus is on the development of African American civil rights with famous names such as Martin Luther King and Malcolm X but we also cover other groups such as rights for women and for Native Americans.

Topic based essay

You get to choose the topic – anything in the form of an analytical question from any period of History. It could be from previous topics at GCSE (the Nazis and the Holocaust, Prohibition in the USA). It could be from interests in the Lower Sixth (Margaret Thatcher, the Military Orders in the Holy Land). It could be from a personal interest (Alfred the Great, the battle of Arnhem, Renaissance Florence, the Russian Revolution). The choice is yours!