Curriculum Statement - History

“Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” – Winston Churchill

Powerful Knowledge in History

Defining ‘powerful knowledge’ in history is problematic and it is possible to argue endlessly over the relative merits of one topic or period or another. However, it is perhaps easier to agree upon some general principles:

  • Children have a right to know about the world in which they live.
  • They have a right to be taught about humans in the past, what those humans did and how we live today with the consequences of what happened before we were alive.
  • They have a right to be taught about the kinds of stories humans tell one another and how humans live in societies that are divided in different ways by wealth, class, gender and race.
  • The response to delivering on these rights, and of making sense of this complexity, is the academic discipline of history. Therefore, the powerful knowledge history curriculum at the Laurus Trust seeks to provide students with an induction into this great discipline.


Curriculum Features

The history curriculum aims to develop students’ substantive knowledge of transferable historical concepts, as well as period-specific knowledge, through rigorous enquiry into the following periods:

  • Ancient Rome
  • Anglo-Saxon England
  • The Norman Conquest
  • The Crusades
  • The Silk Roads
  • Medieval England
  • The Reformation
  • Witchcraft
  • The English Civil Wars
  • 18th century revolution
  • 18TH century British politics
  • The Industrial Revolution
  • The British Empire
  • The First World War
  • Female Suffrage
  • 20th century dictatorships
  • The Second World War
  • The Holocaust
  • C20th British social change
  • Cold War

Students will also acquire an understanding of the disciplinary knowledge required for authentic historical thinking. Over the course of the curriculum, students will study the following disciplinary strands:

  • Causation
  • Change and continuity
  • Interpretations
  • Historical evidence


Co Curriculum Enrichment

To further develop historical awareness and wider cultural capital, the History department offers students a range of experiences outside of the classroom environment. These include a GCSE History trip to Berlin, where students explore the rich and powerful history centred around this capital city, and a Key Stage 3 Battlefields trip to enrich students’ knowledge of the First World War.

In addition to out-of-school activities, the History department runs a variety of in-school enrichment. A range of electives are run at lunch time and after school, including a Latin and History film club.


In Year 7, students develop the historical skills that they will need throughout their History studies at Laurus Ryecroft. In the first term, students focus on the key second order concepts that are used in History: significance, chronology, change and continuity, cause and consequence, interpretation and how to use historical evidence. Students then put these skills into practice throughout the year as they visit and revisit each component of historical thinking. In our first topic we have the enquiry question, ‘Why did the Roman Empire collapse?’ which focuses on the historical skill of causation and explores the reasons for the rise and, importantly, the fall of the Roman Empire. Following this we go on to investigate whether AngloSaxon England should be known as the ‘Dark Ages’ and address the historical second order concepts of evidential thinking and significance. Students then move on to study the Norman Conquest focusing initially on the skill of causation, asking why William won the Battle of Hastings but the main focus of the enquiry centres on how far the Normans transformed England in the years after 1066. After the Christmas break we begin to move through Medieval England and again try to disprove students’ misconceptions that this was an era of brutality, stagnation and supreme royal authority but rather one of technological, societal and political advancement. In this enquiry we will investigate concepts such as Parliament, Authority, Religion and its importance to peoples’ lives and the growing politicisation of the lower elements of society. This builds nicely into the question ‘What posed the greatest challenge to the authority of English Kings?’ wherein students will look at Thomas Beckett and Henry II, King John and Magna Carta, Simon de Montfort and the formation of early parliaments and the challenges posed by people from outside of England such as William Wallace and Owain Glyndwr. Following this students will investigate the various reasons for the calling of the First Crusade and the experiences of those who left Europe to fight in the name of Christianity. This unit allows pupils to begin to explore the past outside the confines of Western Europe and build upon their understanding of the importance of Christianity in this period. Finally students at Laurus Ryecroft will examine the significance and interpretations of the Wars of the Roses across time.

In Year 8, students broaden their historical understanding of the world in which we live and revisit the second order concepts introduced in Year 7. The course begins with an in-depth analysis of life in 16th century Europe with the enquiry question ‘How did a German monk transform Europe’ allowing pupils to explore the religious changes brought about in Europe by Martin Luther and the impact that they had on domestic and international affairs. Within this unit the Tudor dynasty will be explored and students will assess how significant the Counter Reformation was in Britain before ending on the threat of the Spanish Armada. As the Tudor reign ended with Elizabeth in 1603, the reigns of the Stuart monarchs James and Charles will be looked at in detail building towards the enquiry ‘Why did Civil War break out in 1642?’. Building on the topics covered in Year 7, students will be reintroduced with the concepts of Power, Parliament, Revolutions and Constitutional Monarchy as we look at the Civil War, the Cromwellian Protectorate, the Jacobite rebellions and the Glorious Revolution. After Christmas, the students are asked ‘Can ideas lead to revolution?’ as we look at the Enlightenment that springs up in the reign of Charles II and we examine the ideas of Voltaire, Rousseau and Montesquieu and, more importantly, their impact on the American, French and Haitian Revolutions that break out between 1765 and 1791. Penultimately, we return to a topic much closer to home, the Industrial Revolution; ‘Disastrous and terrible’ or the Dawn of Liberty’? Particularly pertinent with us being so close to the home of the Industrial Revolution, students will explore the impacts of urbanisation, engineering advances, factory life/child labour and social reform, notably through the Peterloo Massacre that took place in St. Peter’s Fields in Manchester 1819. This event arguably was the formation of the working classes as a socially and politically conscious body and has been labelled a turning point in our political history, therefore pupils will be encouraged to assess how far this is true. Finally we end Year 8 by studying the British Empire and asking the question ‘Should we be proud of the British Empire?’. As we live in an increasingly global society it is essential that we question our role in world affairs. Through looking at slavery and its abolition, the Indian rebellion/War of Independence, the Scramble for Africa and our involvement in Ireland with Home Rule students at Laurus Ryecroft will be well equipped with the key knowledge needed to understand the world in which we live.

Year 9 students start the year by looking at suffrage and protest with a focus on Manchester being the starting point for investigating the Luddites, Tolpuddle Martyrs, Chartists and the struggle for female suffrage with the Suffragettes and Suffragists. Next up will be the causes of WW1, followed by a comparative study of the dictatorships of Hitler and Stalin. After this, students will be given the opportunity to explore the causes of WW2, the events of WW2 and end up looking at ‘Decolonisation: A Nation in Decline?’