Curriculum Statement

The intent of our history curriculum is to be broad, knowledge-based and ambitious. It is sequenced in a chronological way and gives every opportunity for our students to build their historical knowledge and skills as they progress through British history from Medieval times to the present day. It is delivered inside and outside the classroom and we can confidently say it is unique to Upper Wharfedale School because of the built- in enrichment opportunities and promotion of our school values.

An important aim of the history curriculum is to provide a carefully built platform for our students to achieve strong academic success. The intent is to produce students with the ability to apply key history skills in their chosen career path – whether work or further education. We aim to produce good historians who can think and work independently, be creative and be able to use the skills of enquiry successfully. Many careers require people to have these key skills – like journalism, the law and teaching.

The compulsory teaching and learning of the Holocaust is further enriched with the opportunity for all pupils (regardless if they do not choose history at GCSE) to visit Auschwitz-Birkenau during the history department’s annual Poland trip. Over 350 students have so far taken part in this powerful visit. The experience of this visit is then reflected in school by students to promote British values of tolerance and diversity. This is exemplified each year with student-led Holocaust Memorial Day assemblies in January. Similarily, the experience and knowledge gained by trips to the World War One battlefields is applied in lessons but also in the annual whole school Remembrance Assembly.

The department is strongly focussed on supporting our students to be lifelong learners and active citizens. The work of the department outside of the classroom certainly helps achieve this by equipping our students with the knowledge and cultural capital to succeed in life.


Key Stage 3 follows the National Curriculum for history programme of study and  students learn about the development of Church, state and society in Britain from 1066-1745. Students learn about ideas, political power, industry and empire from 1745-1901. From 1901 students will learn about the challenges for Britain, Europe and the wider world to the present day. Key historical knowledge is detailed below.

Historical skills like source analysis nature, origin and purpose, change and continuity, causation, chronology and historical enquiry are built upon from Year 7-9.  They are practiced to enable all our learners (regardless of ability or background) the opportunity to access history at GCSE. We feel the powerful knowledge of events students will learn will benefit them in understanding Britain’s place in the world and how Britain has arrived there. They can apply this knowledge to help them understand important current affairs such as the role of Parliament, Brexit and terrorism for example.

Students focus on …

The Norman Conquest 

What was England like before the battle of hastings? Why was England a battlefield in 1066? How did William take control of England? 

Religion in Medieval England 

Why was the church so important in people’s lives? Why was the Archbishop of Canterbury murdered? Did the Church make everyone good? 

The problems of Medieval monarchs 

What happened to England’s medieval monarchs? How important were England’s medieval queens? How powerful were English monarchs? 

The Black Death 

Was 1348 the end of the world? What was it like to live in the shadow of the Black Death? 


Who were the first English people? What drove people to migrate? How have migrants changed Britain? 

Challenges to the Catholic Church 

Was the Reformation a good thing? Who won? Catholics or protestants? 

The English Civil War 

Why did the English fight the English in 1642? What were the differences between the Roundheads and the Cavaliers? Why did the English kill their king? 

Changing ideas 1660-1789 

Why were kings back in fashion by 1660? What made Restoration London exciting? Who ran the country: Crown or Parliament? How modern was England by 1789? 

The Slave Trade 

What was it like to be involved in the Salve Trade? Why was the slave trade abolished? The big history of slavery. 

The British Empire 

How did the British Empire develop? Who benefited from the British Empire? 

The Industrial Revolution 

What was the Industrial Revolution? Would you have survived the Industrial Revolution? Did the Industrial Revolution bring progress and improvement? 

Getting the vote 

How democratic was Britain in the 19th Century? What’s the truth about Victorian Women?How did women get the vote? How much more democratic was Britain by 1928?  

The First World War 

Why did the First World War start in 1914? What was the First World War like?  

Conflict in the Twentieth Century 

How did new ideas cause conflict? How do you fight a ‘Cold War’? What has caused conflict in the 20th Century 

The Holocaust 

To what extent were Jews persecuted before the Holocaust?How were the Nazis able to implement the ‘Final Solution”? 


At Key Stage 4 students learn about a diverse range of fascinating topics including the American West, Germany 1919-1939, Warfare and the Blitz, Anglo-Saxons and Normans. Key stage 4 sees the students using and applying key history skills that were built up and practiced in KS3 across their GCSE topics. For example our study of the Blitz builds on student’s skills of historical enquiry and source interpretation that were practiced in year 9 when they studied World War Two. Another example is understanding the concept of change. This is introduced in year 7 with the Norman Conquest and developed across the key stage. At Key Stage 4  So when the students study Anglo Saxon and Norman society in greater detail and complexity at key stage 4 they have the experience to apply their skills to gain a richer understanding of this crucial part of British history.  

Edexcel 1-9 GCSE History

Warfare and the Blitz 

A study of the development of weapons, tactics and ideas from 1215 to the present day. To understand the impact of war on civilians. To use case studies about key battles in British history like Waterloo and Agincourt.  

Anglo Saxon/Norman England and the American West  

To learn about life in Anglo-Saxon England before the Conquest. To study the Battle of Hastings and how the Normans took control of England. To study the development of the American West by looking at the lifestyle of Native American Indians. To study how white Americans moved across the West and came in to conflict with Native Americans. 

Germany 1918 – 1939 

To study how Germany became a Nazi dictatorship between the two World Wars. To study the rise of Hitler and life in Nazi Germany. 


KS3: By termly assessment 

KS4: By termly assessment 


KS3: Via homework projects.

KS4: Via weekly homework tasks and use of GCSE Pod.

Support at Home

Student can access resources via GCSE Pod and revision guides are available to purchase via Parent Pay


On a local level two historical sites are investigated by students from years 7-11 every summer with the support of local archaeologists. The lead mining industry based at Hole Bottom Farm, Hebden and the WW1 Raikeswood  POW camp at Skipton. Uniquely, our students have the opportunity to practically investigate these sites by taking part in archaeology. The reports of these excavations are regularly published in journal of the Council for British Archaeology. The practical nature of the experiences supports the broader academic aims of the curriculum. For example the study of the lead mining industry through excavation is a form of historical enquiry. The study of artefacts from different time periods supports the concept of chronology which students study in the classroom. The study of old maps, drawings and written accounts supports the work of source analysis and interpretation. The innovative projects have had significant coverage from local BBC and ITV news and featured in the Yorkshire Post. These experiences have also inspired some of our students to seek careers in archaeology and museum curatorship. The department has forged close links with the Craven museum and is able to support the personal development of our students by offering work experience opportunities there.