At Key stage three students develop and are assessed on six key historical skills that run throughout years 7-9 and underpin the foundations of being an exceptional historian.

These six key skills are:

  • Knowledge and Communication – The ability to demonstrate understanding of the topics studied and communicate this through assessments, classwork and other formats. This skill underpins the other five and exceptional students will be able to show detailed knowledge of dates, periods of time, events etc to support their arguments.
  • Causation – The skill of being able to identify different causes of events and categorise these into Long and Short term as well as Social, Political, Economic, Religious and military causes. At Exceptional level, students will be able to argue which causes are more significant than others and link this to their own knowledge.
  • Change and Continuity – The ability to identify patterns of change or continuity (what stayed the same) in different periods. Exceptional students will be able to reach conclusions on the pace and extent of change.
  • Historical Interpretations – Being able to understand why there are different views of the past and how these views are different. Exceptional students will be able to explain which interpretations are most accurate based on evidence and own knowledge of the past.
  • Historical World Views - A variety of HISTORICAL ACTORS have very different (DIVERSE) experiences of the events in which they are involved. Understanding DIVERSITY is key to understanding history.

Historical Evidence – The ability to use sources of information effectively to find evidence about the past. Exceptional students will be able to go beyond simply identifying what a source suggest and consider the Nature, origin and purpose of a source and how this affects its usefulness and reliability.

Year 7

Historical skills – Students learn the key skills involved in exploring and investigating history, such as using different types of evidence, testing theories, explaining why people have different views of the same events.

How far did England Change under the Normans? An investigation of William of Normandy’s invasion of 1066, why the Normans won the Battle of Hastings and the resulting changes that affected England such as the building of Castles, the change in ownership of land and how the country was ruled.

Why was the Medieval Church so powerful? This topic focuses on the importance of religion, examining the role of the church in medieval society and important events connected to this such as the murder of Thomas Becket and the Crusades of the 12 and 13th Century’s.

Was Medieval Life mucky and miserable? This topic investigates generalisations about aspects of life in the middle ages, focusing on life in towns and villages, the role of the church, the impact of the Black Death and the Great Revolt of 1381. Students aim to draw conclusions about people’s life in this period based on evidence to support their views.

Why did England Break away from the Roman Catholic Church?: A look into the rule of Henry VIII and his children, Edward VI, Mary and Elizabeth I and how they struggled with issues such as marriage, power, religion, war and invasion.

Was the Elizabethan period a Golden Age? Students investigate the reign of Elizabeth I from 1558-1603 looking at the key events and changes of the period and assessing whether this was a high point for England in terms of its culture and achievements. Focus on areas such as the Spanish Armada, Shakespeare, Elizabethan portraits.

Year 8

Why did King and Parliament go to war in 1642? A study of the early Stuarts beginning with James I and the gunpowder plot and leading into an investigation of the causes of the English Civil War between King Charles I and Parliament.

Republic, Restoration and Glorious Revolution: An examination of how power began to shift from Kings to Parliament, looking at the causes and events after the English Civil War, the rise of Oliver Cromwell and why he has been interpreted in different ways by different people. The Reign of Charles II and the Glorious Revolution of 1688

Did Revolution make France a fairer country? – This topic is underpinned by a focus on changes to the lives of three different groups in French society over the period of the French Revolution. Students compare how French Peasants, Middle Classes and Women were affected by changes and whether their lives improved as a result. Comparisons are also drawn to the English Civil war and the changes this brought about as a point of contrast.

Vile Victorian Britain?– The Industrial Revolution: An in depth study into the changes that came about during the years 1750-1900 as Britain became the world’s leading Industrial nation. Topics focus on working conditions in the factories, Child exploitation, the great inventors of the period, the problems of Public Health & Cholera and reforms introduced by the government. Students draw conclusions about whether this was Vile Victorian Britain based on an examination of peoples diversity of experiences of life in this period.

Was the British Empire a Force for Good? This is a controversial topic, in which students look at the development of the British Empire and its impact on the lives of people who lived under British rule. Students investigate in detail the impact on India and Africa and whether or not Britain’s Empire should be seen positively or negatively by different groups of people based on their experiences.

Was William Wilberforce really that important in ending Slavery? An investigation into the Slave Trade and Britain role in the transportation and sale of slaves. The topics main focus point is an examination of why Britain banned slavery in 1833 and whether William Wilberforce was the most significant factor in the abolition of slavery.

Year 9

Edwardian Britain & The Great War. An in depth investigation into the First World War covering the key causes, how far Germany was responsible, fighting in the trenches, the leadership of the British army, life on the home front and the reasons for the Allied victory in 1918.

WW2 - The Peoples War: A detailed study of World War Two with an initial focus on the years 1919-1939 with an investigation into the rise of Dictators in Europe, the impact of the Versailles Treaty, the Rise of Hitler, Chamberlain and Appeasement and the failures of the League of Nations. Students then investigate the battles that should be considered turning points of the war such as Stalingrad and D-Day, before moving onto to look at the impact of the war on Civilians such as bombings, evacuation and the use of the atom bomb.

The Holocaust – challenging misconceptions: This topic looks in detail at the development of the Holocaust, examining how it came about, who was involved and who should be held responsible. The main focus in for students to understand misconceptions that common in history, such as ‘The Jews did not fight back against the Nazi’s’ and ‘Only Jews died in the Nazi Genocide’. 

Post World War conflict: Students finally look at the second half of the 20th Century and the struggle for peace and freedom, this involves a study of the Cold War and Vietnam Conflict as well as looking at conflict in the Middle East such as the Arab-Israeli War and the events of the 9/11 and 7/7 bombings.


At GCSE WGSB follows the AQA History course which comprises two examination units.

Unit 1: Understanding the Modern World: Students investigate in depth, developments in Germany from 1889 to 1945, with a focus on Kaiser Wilhelm II and German responsibility for the First World War, the struggles of the Weimar Republic from 1919-1939 and how and why Adolf Hitler and the Nazis were able to come to power. Finally students look at peoples experiences under Nazi rule, and how far their lives were affected by Hitler’s policies and actions.

The second part of this unit focuses on Conflict and Tension 1919-1939: Looking at the causes of the Second World War through an examination of the impact of the Versailles Treaty on Germany, the weaknesses of the League of Nations in preventing aggression and whether Appeasement of Hitler was the best policy to prevent conflict.

Unit 2: Health and the People: This unit focuses on the development of Medicine from the Middle Ages to present day and the factors that both helped and hindered the progress of medical knowledge and public health such as religion, war, government and the role of Individuals.

The second part of this unit is focused on British History and specifically on the Norman Conquest from 1066-1170, with an environmental study of a Historic site or building connecting to this period of history.


WGSB follows the AQA A-Level History syllabus, which comprised two Examined Units studied over the two years course and the completion of a Coursework assignment.

Unit 1: The Tudors 1485-1603: This exam unit focuses on the Tudor Monarchs and in each reign examines the key social, economic, religious and Foreign Policy events pursued by England. The unit also considers a number of over-arching themes that consider change over the whole period such as how far major rebellions of the period were the result of religious or economic factors, how well governed England was under Tudor monarchs, the extent to which England was a major power in European affairs or the extent to which the English Church was truly protestant by 1603.

Students will be expected to read widely, understanding and comparing the views of key Tudor Historians such as Ives, Starkey and Elton.

Unit 2: The Cold War 1945-1991: Students begin their study of the Cold War by investigating the reasons for the breakdown of the wartime alliance between Britain, USA and the USSR, and concluding how far Stalin was to blame for the development of superpower rivalry. Students then investigate the key events and controversies of the Cold War, looking in depth at the Arms Race, Cuban Missile Crisis, The Cold War in Asia, with focus on Japan, Korea and Vietnam and concluding with why Communism eventually collapsed in Europe by 1991.

Students are expected to know and understand the differing interpretations of the Cold War by historians such as Gaddis, Williams and post-Soviet writers.

Unit 3: Historical Investigation: This involves the completion of a 3,500 word coursework assignment which is researched and written by the student, themed around an investigation of the Changes in the role and status of Women in Britain between the years 1850-1950. Students are expected to include a range of primary sources and different historian’s interpretations within their work.