History at DGS aims to instill the understanding that everyone’s lives are affected by the past, from family history to being aware of the national and world environment in which we live. We have a passion for developing girls’ independent thinking and encouraging the analysis and evaluation of others’ arguments and opinions. We believe that these skills can be applied not merely to History, but to our everyday life and work. As such, we expose our pupils to a wide range of teaching methods and resources, from the traditional reading of historical sources to drama, discussion, and the use of pictures, film and art (in which the department is particularly strong). One Year 9 student has said 'History skills we learn can be applied in many ways and they help us to think clearly and logically, to question what we read and most importantly, to think for ourselves.'
Key Stage 3
Key Stage 3 aims to develop pupils’ confidence to question, investigate and justify ideas. As such, we focus our teaching around a series of investigations into British History through the past millennium, each based around one of the history thinking skills of causation (why events happened), interpretation (what people have thought about History), evidential enquiry (how we discover about the past and the problems of investigation), significance (why people or events are judged important) and change over time. Pupils are encouraged to develop their own conclusions about the past, from deciding whether the Black Death was a ‘bad thing’ in Medieval Britain, to whether the Suffragette Emily Davison intended to kill herself in protest at the lack of votes for women.
Key Stage 4
In Year 9 our pupils follow a unique course entitled ‘World Revolutions’. The course aims to consolidate and enhance skills founded in Key Stage 3 and prepare our pupils for the rigours of GCSE History. Pupils study four case studies, covering a national revolution (the Indian Independence Movement c.1800-1947), a class revolution (the French Revolution and Terror), a racial revolution (Apartheid and Equality in South Africa, 1948-1994) and an ideological revolution (the Communist Revolution in Russia, 1917-1941). From September 2016, our Year 10 and 11 students will be following the AQA GCSE course. The units studied will be Germany 1890 - 1945; Conflict and tension 1914 - 18; Britain - health and the people c.1000 – the present day; Elizabethan England 1568 - 1603. At Key Stage 4 there is a greater focus on written communication as well as the use of evidence, and pupils learn how to argue, evaluate and explain clearly. History remains a popular GCSE, as it develops skills that are useful in such careers as the media, government and administration, social work, education and law, amongst others.
Key Stage 5
We run one of two distinctive A Level courses as part of Didcot Sixth Form College, and pupils opting to continue to A Level have the choice of either course (the skills remain the same whichever course is chosen, the only difference being the content of study).
We offer the Edexcel A Level History course. In Year 12, students will study two units – Unit 1 Russia 1917-91: from Lenin to Yeltsin and Unit 2 Mao’s China 1949-76. Then in Year 13 students will focus on British History with a unit entitled ‘Protest, agitation and parliamentary reform in Britain c.1780-1928. There will also be a coursework unit in Year 13 investigating the historical controversies arising from the study of the New Deal period in America, 1933-1941.