History is a core subject in the first three years of Senior School, and is a popular option for both GCSE and A Level.

OLA pupils are encouraged to participate in individual or group activities, to ask questions and think independently, to develop a wide range of written and oral skills and above all to enjoy studying the past and how it has shaped the world today.

Pupils learn about key aspects of this country’s past across a wide time-span and also study some of the history of other countries and cultures.  They explore how to write clearly and logically and to use evidence critically.  They develop their understanding through discussion, debate and role-play, through reading, visual and media sources.  They use ICT to investigate issues, record findings and make presentations.  Learning is also enriched through trips and, at sixth form level, by hearing eminent historians speak about their areas of expertise.

History is taught in two dedicated teaching rooms, each with interactive whiteboards, TVs and DVD players.  


Year 7 start with a very ‘hands-on’ investigation of the history of the school, involving looking at clues in buildings, plaques and paintings and investigating further using maps, photographs and written sources.  In years 7-9 pupils explore aspects of British History asking questions such as ‘Why did the barons rebel against King John in 1216?’, ‘How did people’s lives change between 1500 and 1750?, ‘Was William Wilberforce the reason why the slave trade was abolished?’, ‘What were the experiences of soldiers on the Western Front during the First World War?’, ‘How and why were Jewish people persecuted in Nazi Germany?’

History at GCSE

The GCSE course includes several different aspects – a study in long-term development using the history of medicine to explore changes through time, an in-depth study of Nazi Germany and an exploration of the origins of today’s Israeli-Palestinian conflict.  At A Level we study the history of countries that play a key role in the modern world, China, the USA and Russia, as well as exploring Britain’s developing democracy and changing role of women from about 1860 to 1930.

The subject is a very popular option at GCSE, with two groups of about 14 – 18 students each usually choosing to study History.  A good number choose to take the subject further; there are usually about eight students taking the subject to AS in the LVI, of whom the majority choose to continue the subject into the UVI and complete the full A Level course.

Field trips

We have a regular pattern of trips that allow students to visualise and experience parts of their History course.

Year 7 go to St Albans Abbey, where they assume the roles of medieval monks and visit different parts of the Abbey.  They learn about the strict routines of monastic life and why many medieval people chose to become monks or nuns.  Some produce their own illuminated lettering in the scriptorium while others take part in a clay tile workshop.

Year 8 spend a day at the Black Country Museum, discovering how the Industrial Revolution changed the way people lived and worked.  Favourite activities include going down a coal mine, experiencing a lesson in a Victorian schoolroom and enjoying the fairground rides at lunchtime. 

Year 9 will often visit somewhere associated with the Second World War.  This may be the Cabinet War Rooms, the Imperial War Museum or the Britain at War experience. 

Year 10 students studying the History of Medicine visit the Old Operating Theatre Museum, which gives them a vivid insight into nineteenth century surgery, and the Wellcome galleries at the Science Museum.

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