Department: History

Head of Department: Ms C Wilkinson

If you wish to learn more about the curriculum, please contact the Head of Department by email:

Curriculum Map

Homework Enrichment

The History Department at Oaklands aims to create and deliver a History curriculum that meets the needs of our students as fully as possible. We endeavour to inspire, inform and challenge our young people in the learning and interpretation of the past. We are committed to imparting substantive knowledge so that students can increasingly engage and master the disciplinary skills of the subject of History, from effective source analysis to reaching judgements. Where relevant, aspects of our curriculum provide an opportunity to discuss the values and virtues that support the ethos of the school.

Our curriculum follows a largely chronological approach that includes a mixture of broad sweeps of history (for example, the Crime and Punishment unit in Year 8) and enquiry led depth studies.

Our History curriculum is ambitious because:

  • We aim to foster a genuine passion for learning about the past. At the core of this is the passion and commitment of our teaching team, how we liaise with the SEND department / LSAs and the range of learning activities that hopefully will inspire, encourage and test our learners.
  • Cumulatively, students’ knowledge of periods and events will form a network of knowledge that might be conceptualised as a ‘mental timeline’. The overview in year 7 is a starting point.
  • Specific opportunities are planned for students to develop their knowledge of some particularly important substantive concepts; there are opportunities for students to study aspects of the past in overview and in depth.
  • Curriculum content increases in range, depth and complexity as students move through their history curriculum.
  • We challenge stereotypes in our 7-9 curriculum. For example, in the Year 9 ‘Why should we study the Holocaust?’ unit where we teach students about Jewish resistance rather than focussing on victimisation. We relate the curriculum to our core values and virtues.
  • We are keen to develop an understanding of political literacy as well as historical literacy in our lessons. Where possible this is contextualised for the present day. For example, the department set up political hustings with outside speakers and organised an Oaklands general election in 2019.
  • At the heart of History are the stories of the past and these can be accessed by students of all abilities. These lead students on to develop an understanding of how historical claims and arguments, implicit and explicit, helping to shape historical narratives.
  • The department actively encourages formal debate and discussion in our classrooms and online (e.g. the 2021 Year 12 Parallel Histories debate about the Troubles in Northern Ireland). Not only does this help secure knowledge and opinion of events it helps increase student oracy.


Students come to Oaklands with a variety of experiences of History in primary school.  We take from over 40 feeder primary schools. Despite having an understanding of the curriculum the experience is varied. Some students have completed very little history in the later part of KS2, some students have had many extra-curricular experiences of visiting historical sites or museums and some have very little prior knowledge.

To provide students with the broadest experience, exposing them to key knowledge and concepts we start with a broad sweep of British history ‘Invaders and Invasions, Britain 43AD-1066’ and a baseline assessment in Year 7. This helps prepare the students for their main focus in Year 7, and develop some independence. Students move on to the Norman invasion and wider medieval life. Year 8 builds on the ideas and concepts of medieval life by investigating Tudor and Stuart England through enquiry led learning. For example, ‘Why were there so many queens in the 16th century?’ and ‘How did Britain change so much during the Industrial Revolution?’. The main thematic study in Years 7-9 is the Year 8 ‘Crime and Punishment c.1000-present day’ unit. By Year 9, students have already examined the Industrial Revolution and so are prepared to examine the causes and key events of World War I. From here, students study more enquiries and work with increasing independence, for example, ‘Why didn’t all women get the vote in 1918?’ as well as ‘Why should we study the Holocaust?’ We conclude with an examination of twentieth century ideologies and the impact on mid-century history with our ‘Communism, the Cold War and Conspiracies’ unit. Our local study sits in the Year 8 curriculum partly because of the nature of the topic (‘Portsmouth’s role in the Slave Trade’ fits into the 19th century), but also because it allows us to build on the skills that we have developed during Year 7.

The GCSE and A Level History courses are designed to offer a breadth of study that build on the knowledge and skills of Years 7-9. There is much cross over of our curriculum with other subjects, particularly English and Religious Education, for example Year 11 study ‘Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde[1]’ in English Literature and ‘Health and the People c1000-present day’ in GCSE History. We aim to make pertinent and relevant links during our teaching. We also want to develop a suitable range of extra-curricular activities that support and develop the curriculum, this includes historical trips, History Club, debating, visits from outside speakers and so on.

Our focus is to create engaging and challenging individual lessons/series of lessons that fit logically within a wider framework of historical study. The student should then be able to communicate knowledge by making use of observations of the past by drawing on relevant second order concepts (for example, cause and consequence, similarities and differences) to help them develop their own interpretations and judgements.  The curriculum acts as a narrative that hopefully will succeed in allowing students to look back at the past with a critical, but informed eye and be able to take the skills of the historian into other subjects and areas of interest. The skills of evaluating the utility and reliability of sources have never been more relevant and useful for young people.

We also recognise interdependence of substantive knowledge and disciplinary skills, this is why we have designed a knowledge-rich curriculum. Our assessments test both knowledge and skills and should prepare our students for the rigours of advanced study and training. We hope that our students, like its teachers, will develop a passion for the subject and the mastery of language that can help express their personal understanding of British, local and world history.


Updated July 22