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Department vision & intention

The vision for our department is to ensure all students are successful in school and equipped for life after school, as well as develop a love and passion for History and Sociology. We believe we have a duty to ensure students can make sense of the present. We have chosen the key events that we feel will offer our students the understanding of why we are where we are in the current world.

We will do this by making sure ALL students:

  • Acquire the knowledge that will allow them to understand the context & events of the modern world.
  • Build confidence as learners that will allow them to challenge themselves and others.
  • Build a skills base that will ensure all students can be effective and analytical historians, particularly the ability to explore the past through a variety of perspectives and interpretations, but also skills that can be transferred across the curriculum and beyond eg: Interpretation, inference, communication, literacy and analysis.
  • Develop an understanding of local History/ context
  • Are resilient and reflective through the use of strong feedback and opportunities to improve.

We were pleased with our 2019 exam results. In History 74% of our students achieved a grade 4 or above.

Key Stage 3

Students will learn about the past through investigating a series of enquiry questions, some of examples of these are below:

Year 7

  • What was England like before the Normans came?
  • Why was 1066 a year of crisis in Britain?
  • Why did William win the battle of Hastings?
  • How far did the Normans change England?
  • How much power did Medieval Kings have?
  • Henry and Thomas Becket/ King John
  • “Mucky and miserable” is this a good way to describe a peasant’s life in the Middle Ages?
  • Rats or rebels, which were more significant?
  • Why did Henry VIII break away from the church in Rome?
  • How far did the reformation change England?

Year 8

  • How successfully did Elizabeth I deal with the problems of her reign?
  • Why was there a witchcraze in early modern England?
  • Voyages of Exploration/ American Colonies
  • What was the impact of the transatlantic slave trade and why was it abolished?
  • What was the impact of the Industrial Revolution?
  • How did ordinary people win the right to vote?
    - Chartist movement in the 19th century
    - Suffragettes

Year 9

  • What were the Causes of World War One?
  • Why did men join up?
  • What were the conditions like in the trenches?
  • What role did soldiers from around the British Empire play in WW1?
  • Why was Hitler made Chancellor?
  • What was life like in Nazi Germany?
  • How can we challenge generalisations about the holocaust?
  • How should the holocaust be remembered?
  • What was the significance of the Nuremberg trials?
  • What were the origins of the cold war?
  • How did the Cold War develop?
  • What were the main “hotspots” of the Cold War? (Berlin, Cuba, Vietnam)
  • Why did the Cold War end?
  • How and why did the lives of Black Americans change in the 20th Century?

Further information on Key Stage 3 History can be found here:



The exam board we use for GCSE History is Edexcel

Students are examined on the following assessment objectives:

Students study the following topics:

  • Paper 1 - Crime and Punishment c.1066-present day (Britain) (30%)
  • Paper 2 - Early Elizabethan England, 1558-1588 (20%)
  • Paper 2 - Superpower relations and the cold war 1941-1991 (20%)
  • Paper 3 The USA at home and abroad (civil rights movement and Vietnam war) 1954-1975 (30%)

Further information on the History GCSE can be found here:


Enrichment Activities

Each year there are a range of History enrichment activities for both staff and students at Notre Dame. Some of them are outlined below:

Holocaust Memorial Day

In January 2019 Year 9 students participated in a webcast presentation from Holocaust survivor Harry Spiro. They wrote him letters thanking him for sharing his testimony and explaining what they gained from hearing his story.


Museum Outreach

The History Department works closely with local museums and historians.

  • We often take students to exhibitions and workshops at both branches of the Museum of London.
  • The Museum of London also come in to give dramatized presentations of key characters in History such as a Suffragettes (Kitty Marion) and a survivor of the Black Death.


IOE Holocaust Education Development Program

Notre Dame became a beacon school for Holocaust Education in 2012. The school has hosted training from the Institute of Education in Holocaust Education. Staff from local schools across Southwark attended this.