The King's (The Cathedral) School




Overall Rationale

  • To ensure that the students that we teach achieve the best they can in their exams
  • To engender an interest and enjoyment of the past and foster enquiring minds that continues beyond school

We have therefore created a learning journey from Year 7 through to Year 13 which progressively builds the skills of the historian, develops an understanding and deeper knowledge of our nation, how it has developed, how it has impacted on others and also how other societies have experienced change and its consequences. A thematic approach is introduced in Years 8 and 9 to help prepare students for the thematic papers in Key Stages 4 and 5.

In this journey students will think in ever deeper ways about second order concepts such as Cause and Consequence, Significance, and how the past has been interpreted over time. The specialist vocabulary students need to progress in the subject will be built from Year 7 onward, giving students the ability to analyse more deeply when topics are revisited later in their learning.


The Key Stage 3 sequence is set to ensure that a solid foundation of historical knowledge is built for all students whilst at the same time developing knowledge of the historical skills and the disciplinary vocabulary. Year 7 is used as a base year to introduce students (who come with a variety of historical experience from the sixty feeder schools) to Medieval England and its impact on the wider world. Years 8 and 9 develop the broader chronological narrative but also introduce students to thinking about topics thematically. In these years, students are taught chronological history through key concepts such as Conflict, Empire, Rights and Power. This helps to prepare for the thematic topics both at GCSE and A-Level. 

Year 7 - 1000-1500

Year 8 - 1500-1900

Year 9 - 1900-2000

Britain from the Romans to the Normans

The Norman Conquest (Conflict)

The Problems of Monarchs (Church, Barons, People) (Power)

The Church and its impact (Religion)

Medieval Life (Society)

The Reformation (Power of the Monarch and Religion)

The Industrial Revolution (Economy)

Empire and Slavery (Power and Rights)

Nature of Conflict in this period

Changing nature of power - Rulers

Voting rights for ordinary men and women

Empire  (the impact of the British Empire on the people of India and other countries)

Conflict (WWI and WWII) - impact of war on society and moral issues of war

Rights - Segregation and Civil Rights in the USA

As each new topic is taught, previous knowledge and skills are enhanced and applied to different contexts, providing students with opportunity to utilise previous knowledge and apply it to different periods or take their understanding to a deeper level; taking, for example, the comparative understanding of rights for different groups from studying the rights of peasants in 1381 in Year 7, the demand for the vote for men and later women in the 19th Century in Year 8 and then the rights of African Americans to equal treatment at the end of Year 9. At the end of the KS3 curriculum students will feel confident enough to start the KS4 curriculum with a secure understanding of key historical concepts and language and a rich tapestry of knowledge.

As students progress into the KS4 and 5, this foundation of knowledge is applied to more rigorous exercises shaped by the rubric and expectations of their respective qualifications. They are introduced to more challenging source analysis and more involved explanations and evaluations in topics which link back to, and build on, knowledge gained at KS3. This is so that students at KS4 will study the Reformation, the Form and Function of Castles, International Relations in the 20th Century, the US society 1919-48 and the development of democracy and power in England from 1000-2000.  Students who study History in Years 12 and 13 will cover the early Medieval Topic of the Anglo-Saxons and Normans 1035-1107, Germany 1919-63 and USA Civil Rights.  The OCR specifications allow for a natural progression of knowledge with the level of analytical and evaluative skills requiring more depth.

Rights (an example of a thread of learning from Year 7 to Year 13)

“a right delayed is a right denied” - Martin Luther King

  • Year 7: Development of rights of Peasants - the Peasants Revolt
  • Year 8: Development of the right of men and women to vote in England in 1800s + rights to be free (slavery)
  • Year 9: Development of  Civil Rights USA + Erosion of Rights Jews in 1930s Germany
  • Year 10: Civil Rights in the USA 1920-1940 + Rights of Religious freedom (Reformation)
  • Year 11: Development of political Rights of different sections of British society from 1000-2000
  • Year 12: Erosion of rights of German citizens in Nazi Germany.
  • Year 13: Civil Rights USA - development of Rights for AA, NA, Women and Workers in the USA.



Students are assessed both formatively and summatively. In the classroom teachers use questioning to test recall and knowledge, short quizzes and retrieval exercises to gauge student understanding. Formal assessments are carried out three times a year at the end of a unit. Assessments at KS3 are constructed along the lines of KS4 questions so long essays have been replaced by 5-mark description, 10-mark explanation, 14-mark judgment and 10-mark source evaluation questions which are similar to the style of questions that students will then go on and do at GCSE. At KS4 teachers use the same formative assessments and student homeworks are based for the most part on exam type questions with end of unit tests. Students at KS4 also undergo 2 mock exams. At KS5 students are assessed on essays that are done as homework or in timed conditions in class. KS5 students also have to complete two mock papers.



Uptake at GCSE and A-Level is very positive at King’s. The Department has worked hard over the last few years to bolster numbers. GCSE numbers for 2022 currently stand at 116 in Year 10 and 61 in Year 11. At A-Level we have increased to 34 students opting for History in Year 12 which is an improvement on the last three previous years of between 12-20.

The Department is also very successful at encouraging students to remain within the subject. Of last year’s A-Level cohort (20 students), 12 went on to do History or History and another subject at University.


The Department has consistently produced excellent results over many years. A-Level results immediately pre- and post-pandemic stand at 85% A*-B with approximately 50% of students achieving an A-A* grade. The Department at both GCSE and A-Level outperforms the National Averages by a significant margin. At GCSE the 9-7 banding was 50% for the school against a 30% national average and Grade 9 alone was double that of the national average.


Students undertaking History at King’s are given opportunities to go on trips to complement their studies and add to their cultural capital.  Students experience a local study in Year 7 (their own cathedral), Year 9 to Duxford as part of their modern conflict studies whilst GCSE students visit Parliament, Westminster Abbey and Kenilworth Castle. When numbers and interest allows, the Department takes a group of A-Level students to Berlin. Sixth Form students also take part in the Holocaust Memorial Day service in January and the Department was recognised in 2022 by the local council for its decade-long continuing support and involvement with the Holocaust Memorial Day event. Students in the Sixth Form also run a Historical Society within the school.

Links to the Wider Community

  • Visits to the Black Country Living Museum with Year 8 as part of Activities Week
  • Visit to the Houses of Parliament and Castle Case Study with Year 10
  • A-Level History lectures / conferences / trips
  • Year 12 Visit to Berlin

Department Staff

Mr Gordon Gunn (GEG): Head of History Department
Mr Jonathan Lister (JEL): Teacher of History
Mrs Hannah Sanctuary (HS): Teacher of History