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History Curriculum

The Key Stage 3 History Curriculum at John Smeaton Academy

The purpose of study for our Key Stage 3 History Curriculum is the same as that of the History National Curriculum (September 2013) purpose of study, as follows:

‘A high-quality history education will help pupils gain a coherent knowledge and understanding of Britain’s past and that of the wider world. It should inspire pupils’ curiosity to know more about the past. Teaching should equip pupils to ask perceptive questions, think critically, weigh evidence, sift arguments, and develop perspective and judgement. History helps pupils to understand the complexity of people’s lives, the process of change, the diversity of societies and relationships between different groups, as well as their own identity and the challenges of their time.’


The aims of the United Learning Key Stage 3 History Curriculum are the same as those of the History National Curriculum. The curriculum for History aims to ensure that all pupils:

  • Know and understand the history of these islands as a coherent, chronological narrative, from the earliest times to the present day: how people’s lives have shaped this nation and how Britain has influenced and been influenced by the wider world.
  • Know and understand significant aspects of the history of the wider world: the nature of ancient civilisations; the expansion and dissolution of empires; characteristic features of past non-European societies; achievements and follies of mankind.
  • Gain and deploy a historically grounded understanding of abstract terms such as ‘empire’, ‘civilisation’, ‘parliament’ and ‘peasantry’.
  • Understand historical concepts such as continuity and change, cause and consequence, similarity, difference and significance, and use them to make connections, draw contrasts, analyse trends, frame historically-valid questions and create their own structured accounts, including written narratives and analyses.
  • Understand the methods of historical enquiry, including how evidence is used rigorously to make historical claims, and discern how and why contrasting arguments and interpretations of the past have been constructed.
  • Gain historical perspective by placing their growing knowledge into different contexts, understanding the connections between local, regional, national and international history; between cultural, economic, military, political, religious and social history; and between short- and long-term timescales.

United Learning Unique Focus

  • A knowledge-based curriculum for the whole of Key Stage 3.
  • A clear and coherent structure for each unit in each of Years 7, 8 and 9 to strengthen students’ historical knowledge and chronological understanding.
  • An enquiry-based question focus for each unit encompassing a combination of depth and overview enquiries.
  • An explicit focus in each enquiry question upon substantive and disciplinary knowledge.
  • Lessons all focus around enquiry-based questions around the following second order concepts: causation and consequence, change and continuity, significance, similarity and difference, sources and interpretations.
  • An end of year overarching enquiry which brings together themes explored in the year and, at the end of Years 8 and 9, also links together work from the preceding academic year or years.
  • Assessment outcomes though key performance indicators linked to each enquiry question and focused upon the learning that all students should be able to demonstrate at the end of each unit.

Subject Areas and Themes

In line with these aims, students will study seven separate areas and themes of History in KS3. These are:

  • The development of the Church, state and society in Medieval Britain (1066-1509). This includes the Norman Conquest, Christendom and the Crusades, the challenges between Church and crown, the Magna Carta and the emergence of Parliament, the Black Death and the Peasants' Revolt in Year 7.
  • The development of the Church, state and society in Britain, 1509-1745. In Year 7, this includes the Renaissance. In Year 8 this will include the Reformation in Europe, the Elizabethan religious settlement and the conflict with Catholics, first contact with America and India and the causes and events of British Civil Wars.
  • Ideas, political power, industry and empire in Britain, 1745-1901. This includes the Enlightenment in Britain and Europe, the British transatlantic slave trade and the Industrial Revolution in Year 8.
  • Challenges for Britain, Europe and the wider world, 1901-present. This will include the exploration of the World War One, the inter-war years, the World War Two, the Holocaust and social, cultural and technological change in Year 9.
  • A local history study. This will be an in-depth study of the Industrial Revolution in Leeds and how local sites in Leeds reflect the national history of industrial Britain in Year 8.
  • A study of an aspect or theme of British history before 1066. This will include the changing nature of power in Britain in Year 8, exploring the nature of power from before 1066 to the present day.
  • A study of a significant society or issue in world history and its interconnections with other world developments. This will include an in-depth study comparing the issue of Civil Rights in South Africa, India and the USA in the 20th Century in Year 9.

Overview of Units

Year 7

Unit 1 – Anglo-Saxon and Norman England

Unit 2 – Norman Conquest and Control

Unit 3 – Norman Changes to Society

Unit 4 – Medieval Religion

Unit 5 – Challenges to Medieval Monarchs

Unit 6 – The Renaissance

Year 8

Unit 1 – Henry VIII and the Reformation

Unit 2 – The Tudor Religious Rollercoaster and Elizabethan England

Unit 3 – The English Civil War

Unit 4 – The Slave Trade

Unit 5 – The Industrial Revolution in Leeds

Unit 6 – Changing Power through Time

Year 9

Unit 1 – The First World War

Unit 2 – International Relations, 1919-39

Unit 3 – The Second World War

Unit 4 – The Holocaust

Unit 5 – Global Genocides and Persecution

Unit 6 – Civil Rights across the Globe


Key Stage 4 History

At KS4, we follow the Edexcel GCSE qualification in History.

The course is assessed by 100% external examination. Students will sit three exams at the end of year 11.

  • Paper 1: Crime and punishment in Britain, c1000-present and Whitechapel, c1870-c1900: crime, policing and the inner city - (1hr 20 mins) worth 30% of your overall mark
  • Paper 2: The American West, c1835-c1895 and Medieval depth options (Anglo Saxons) - (1hr 45 mins) Worth 40% of your mark
  • Paper 3: Weimar and Nazi Germany 1918-39 - (1hr 15 mins) Worth 30% of your overall mark


In year 10 and 11 students will study the following areas:

Crime and Punishment in Britain, c1000-present

This module consists of us looking at different crimes, law enforcements and punishment in the following different eras:

  • c1000-c1500: Medieval England,
  • C1500-c1700: Early Modern England,
  • C1700-c1900: 18th and 19th century Britain
  • C19000-present: Modern Britain
  • Whitechapel, c1870-c1900: crime, policing, and inner city
    • The historic environment


Exam skills that are learnt are as follows:

  • Source skills, Usefulness of sources, following up sources, making comparisons, explaining why and making a judgement.

Anglo-Saxon and Norman England c1060-88

In this module we will look at how England changed from the Anglo-Saxon period through to the Norman England. The different areas are as follows:

  • Norman Conquest, 1060-66
    • Anglo Saxon society
    • Norman Invasion
  • William in power: securing the kingdom, 1066-87
    • William in power
  • Norman England, 1066-88
    • Norman England

Exam skills that are learnt are as follows:

  • Describing features, explaining why, and making a judgement.

The American West, 1835-95

In this module we begin looking at the settlement of the West in 1835, moving on to how it develops over time and the conflicts and conquest that were made during 1876-1895. The different areas that we cover are:

  • The Early settlement of the West, c1835-c1862
    • Plain Indians
    • Westward Migration
    • Conflict and tension
  • Development of the Plains, c1862-c1876
    • Settlement in the West
    • The cattle industry
    • Changes to the Plain Indians
  • Conflicts and conquest, c1876-c1895
    • Changing times
    • Continuing conflict
    • A way of life ends.

Exam skills that are covered for this module are:

  • Explaining consequences, analytical narratives and explaining the importance.

Weimar and Nazi Germany 1918-39

In this module we will follow the changes in Germany starting in the year 198 up to 1939. The different areas that we cover are as follows:

  • The Weimar Republic,1918-29
  • Hitler’s rise to power, 1919-33
  • Nazi control and dictatorship, 1933-39
  • Life in Nazi Germany, 1933-39

Exam skills that are covered for this module are:

  • Sources and interpretations, making inferences, explain causes, evaluating usefulness, identifying, and explaining differences, suggesting reasons for different views, and evaluating interpretations.



Department Staff

Miss Victoria Robinson - Teacher of History (Assistant Principle: SENCo)

Mr Stuart Arthur - Head of RE

Miss Charlotte Eckles - Teacher of History

Miss Kiran Kaur - Teacher of History

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