Subject Overview

At Space Studio West London we understand that studying history allows students to explore the world in which they live in a profound way. We expose students to history through the study of stories, people, places, and events. 

We believe that studying history has the power to transform: to change how students see themselves, how they see their world, and how they understand and communicate with others around them. Access to the history course allows students to nurture a sense of identity, understand the nature of peace and power, and orientate themselves in their ever-changing present worlds.

At both GCSE and A Level independent learning is encouraged (with teacher guidance). Students carry out research projects as well as independent writing tasks. This is balanced with group work, class discussions, and teacher-led activities.

We look at questions that continue to be debated between historians today. For example, ‘Should Truman have dropped an atomic bomb on Japan at the end of World War Two?’ and ‘Was JFK a successful president?’ We introduce our own questions, too, which are designed to stretch students’ thinking, such as ‘Do we study Elizabeth I because she was a great woman or because she was a woman who acted like a man?’

We understand that one historian’s interpretation of an event may differ from another’s. We ask: why do the interpretations differ? Does it stop them being useful? Can we ever find out which one is right? Is there such a thing as right and wrong when looking at an interpretation of the past? What do we need to consider? We then link this to the way we view and absorb information around us today.

Our history lessons reflect our desire to support and stretch students of all abilities. We take students of all literacy levels on the course and therefore work hard to support them. We do this by giving students access to the GCSE and A Level content through a variety of media: written text, documentary clips, recorded phone calls between world leaders, CIA documents, photographs, letters, transcripts, slogans, TV debates and more. We also support and stretch students of all abilities with the skills needed at GCSE and A Level through structured written work, class debates, discussions, placing evidence on weighing scales, reading historical scholarship together, dissecting primary sources, conducting independent research online, and more.

We encourage students to use the skills and knowledge gained in our lessons in a wider context. This demonstrates how our history lessons have value beyond the desks of the history classroom. Our cross-curricula approach begins to bring the students’ world of education together.

The history curriculum has been structured partly in conjunction with our English department. For example, we study the ‘America 1920-1973’ module in history at the same time as we study The History Boys in English. Alan Bennett’s play covers topics such as the concept of ‘historical interpretations’, Franklin Roosevelt, and the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, all of which are also addressed in the history module. History students will also study Elizabethan England in Year 10 before they begin reading Shakespeare’s The Tempest in English, enhancing their contextual knowledge of the book.

We look at maps and how they may dictate power. We look at land borders and how they may influence lives. We look at the seas and wonder how much we can learn about history through the study of our seas. These discussions around geography are important for history students who will have stopped geography lessons by the end of Year 9.

Mathematics is also discussed and utilised when working with dates and timelines.

At A Level advanced essay writing techniques are taught in the history classroom. This is a key skill that students may use in other A-Level subjects that require essay writing and which students may take on with them to University.

The History A Level and GCSE are frequently ranked amongst the most difficult on the UK’s National Curriculum. History has been judged in this manner for such a long time that it is therefore recognised by Colleges and Universities as an educational certificate of weight. Owning a GCSE and/or A Level in history can become a useful tool when students begin the life-long and complex task of selling their skills to higher educational institutions and/or employers.

Students are also encouraged to think critically and creatively in their history lessons. They are given the opportunity to do so independently and while working in groups. Through assessment (both formally at the end of term and informally during lessons) students are nurtured to become self-reflective, responding to teacher comments and eventually finding areas for improvement within their own work. These are all key skills for future employers.

Years 10 & 11

Students follow the AQA GCSE History (8145) syllabus.  Students have one 2 hour lesson per week.

America 1920 – 1973: Opportunity and Inequality

The post-war Economic Boom, the Wall Street Crash, the Great Depression, World War Two, the Civil Rights movement, and more.

Elizabethan England c1568 – 1903

Changes in education, attitudes towards the poor, the Golden Age, the Spanish Armada, exploration to the New World, and more.

Conflict and Tension in Asia 1950 – 1975

The Korean War and the Vietnam War.

Health and the People (soon to be Migration, Empires and the People)

Info to be confirmed.

Years 12 & 13:

The Tudors 1485 – 1603

All Tudor Monarchs: their character, their aims, their struggles and successes, and the wider world during their reign.

The American Dream: Reality and Illusion 1945 – 1980

The post-war world, the Cold War, Russia and China, the civil rights movement, changes in media reporting, The Space Race, political economy, and more.

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