In History lessons at Alleyn’s we aim to show pupils that History is not just a series of dates, battles and monarchs, but a lively, rich and at times combative debate, fueled by a process of investigation, analysis and enquiry.
When our pupils engage with this process, they not only develop inquisitive, challenging and critical minds, but also a lifelong love of History that leads many to pursue the subject beyond school.
History classrooms at Alleyn’s are lively places, usually filled with debate and heated discussion, which pupils of any age and level of expertise can feel engaged with, as we involve ourselves in the messy area of human relations. At the heart of every History lesson are questions, many of them with no definitive answer, and our pupils come to understand that it is only by taking up the challenge to pose questions, and developing the historical skills necessary to investigate them, that we can drive our knowledge and understanding of the past. In History, we place particular importance on the development of analytical skills, supported by the ability to select and effectively use evidence to defend an argument, valuing the qualities of perception and judgement as well as intellectual independence.
The journey through History at Alleyn’s is a rich and varied one. From an investigation in Year 7 discussing ‘why William the Conqueror won the Battle of Hastings’ to an Upper School extension class on ‘The Great Cat Massacre’, pupils are encouraged to engage with topics or time periods with which they are less familiar and to form their own judgement based on the evidence presented or, indeed, to undertake their own research and present an alternative view. Pupils also enjoy engaging with both their local and family history such as their study of archival material during their study of old boys’ experiences in WWI during Year 9. At GCSE, pupils study a more global context with reference to various key episodes from the 20th century, while A level pupils revel in the rich variety of the course, as they engage with material from both early modern and 20th century history.
The Department encourages rigorous academic research and believes in the importance of encouraging pupils to broaden their historical horizons, with plenty of opportunities for all pupils beyond the classroom, whether through trips (a lower school visit to Hampton Court, a GCSE trip to Berlin or an A level visit to North America, for instance) or our vibrant Middle and Upper School History Societies which meet regularly and feature a great range of talks by pupils, teachers and distinguished outside speakers.