Teaching staff at St Catherine’s are passionate about their subject. We are so fortunate to teach a subject which never fails to inform and excite. History is a rich tapestry unfolding with every passing day. It is a subject which allows pupils to use their skills of judgement, analysis and evaluation to their fullest extent.
This is a subject which takes a robust pride in its academic rigour. It is the most ‘human’ of all the subjects because it is ‘our story’. Like a landscape whose textures, colour and mood change according to time, weather and season, so our perspective on the past changes with each passing generation. History is very alive at St Catherine’s. Take a look at our website to gain a further insight.
Mrs Gillian David - B.A. Manchester, PGCE (History & Politics) /
Marketing Head of Department
Has been teaching more years than she cares to remember in both the state and the independent sectors! She was taught at Manchester University by eminent historians Ian Kershaw (Germany) and Judith Brown (India). She has always had a fascination for Russian history and, more recently, Napoleon Bonaparte. Gill has led 5 Sixth Form History trips to Russia and, more recently, two History A Level trips to Paris, the latter with eminent French Revolutionary historian Professor David Andress and has also taken part in a series of podcasts on the French Revolution for the French Historical Society. She is old enough to have visited both East Germany and the USSR before the collapse of Communism! Gill is also Marketing Director at St Catherine’s which has taken her to Hong Kong, Thailand and India in order to spread the word about St Catherine’s. When she is not reading history books, she enjoys walking, travelling both near and far, baking cakes (but rarely eats any herself!) and armchair genealogy.
Mrs Angelique Burns, BA Leeds PGCE (History),
Second in Department
Joined St Catherine’s in 2012 having taught previously in both the state and independent sectors, including three years as Head of History at a girls’ school in Croydon. Although specialising in Tudor and Victorian History at University, her academic interests go far beyond that and are ever-changing as friends and family buy her new books. She has a keen interest in Russian History, particularly the Stalinist period, and has a current obsession with the Stasi in East Germany - sparked by a recent visit to Berlin. For bedtime reading, ‘Horrible Histories’ is preferred!
Mrs Nicky Higgs, BA Manchester (History)
History / Acting Head of Department (Politics)
Joined St Catherine’s in September 2013 having previously worked in both the state and independent sectors, including three years as Head of Year at a girls’ grammar school in Kent and a spell as an AST (Advanced Skills Teacher) In addition to her teaching experience, Nicky spent 18 months working as an Education Officer for the Holocaust Educational Trust, an organisation who she still has links with, notably through our 6th formers taking part in their Lessons from Auschwitz Project. Nicky also leads the annual assembly to commemorate Holocaust Memorial Day each January. Nicky enjoys teaching many aspects of history with the Cold War and Weimar and Nazi Germany being particular favourites. Outside of the classroom, Nicky keeps very busy bringing up a young son, indulging her passion for good food and drink, spending time with loved ones and attending as many loud rock music concerts as possible!
Mrs Isabel Cook, BA, MEd Ed Leadership Buckingham
History / Keller Boarding Housemistress
Joined St Catherine’s in September 2017. Isabel has had a varied career working across Independent and State Sectors. She has also delivered training to teachers and worked within Senior Management. Most recently, she was Head of History in an independent girls’ school in Hampshire. It was here that she completed a Masters of Education from the University of Buckingham. Isabel loves all History! At university she studied a wide variety of options from Crusading Warfare to Vietnam. More recently, following a trip to Russia, she has become fascinated by all things relating to Soviet Russia. Beyond the classroom, Isabel works within boarding as the Keller Boarding House Mistress. When she is not in school she enjoys spending time with her loved ones, travelling and cycling. Being half French, she enjoys the odd glass of wine too!
Examination Board: AQA
Why study History?
History is a fascinating subject which provides you with a number of extremely transferable skills. You will learn to analyse, debate and argue; your knowledge and understanding of the world today will be further enhanced through studying past events and the great ‘movers and shakers’ who have left their mark. History sits extremely well with both arts and science subjects.
- Breadth Study: A Level – The Tudors: England 1485-1603
You will study government, foreign relations, society, economy, intellectual and religious changes and the role of key individuals.
- Depth Study: A Level – France in Revolution 1774- 1815
One of history’s watershed moments whose legacy has had a monumental influence on society, politics, literature and culture ever since.
- Historical Investigation 3,500 – 4,500 words (non –exam assessment). A piece of independent research using primary and secondary sources, which focuses on the fascinating history of Russia over the course of 100 years 1855-1953.
- Breadth Study: exam 2 hours 30 mins, three questions 40% of A level
- Depth Study: exam 2 hours 30 mins, three questions 40% of A level
- Independent Investigation: 3500-4500 words, 20% of A Level, marked by teachers, moderated by AQA
The IGCSE History course will allow you to develop and extend your knowledge and understanding of key periods and events in Twentieth Century Modern World History. It allows you to engage in historical enquiry and to develop as an independent learner and as a critical and reflective thinker. Alongside studying the facts of the course, you will develop the ability to investigate issues critically and make historical claims by using a range of sources in their historical context. History provides you with numerous transferable skills and you will learn to organise and communicate historical knowledge and understanding in different ways, and reach substantiated conclusions.
You will study four main areas:
Paper One: Depth Studies
- Germany: development of dictatorship, 1918–45.
The establishment of the Weimar Republic and its early problems; The recovery of Germany, 1924–29; The rise of Hitler and the Nazis to January 1933; Nazi Germany 1933–39; Germany and the occupied territories during the Second World War.
- A world divided: superpower relations, 1943–72.
Reasons for the Cold War; Early developments in the Cold War, 1945–49; The Cold War in the 1950s; Three crises: Berlin, Cuba and Czechoslovakia; The Thaw and moves towards Détente, 1963–72.
Assessment - Paper 1:
One hour and 30-minute examination comprising a mixture of extended writing and essay-based questions, based on the selected depth studies.
Paper Two: Investigation and Breadth Studies
- Russia and the Soviet Union, 1905–24
Tsarist rule in Russia, 1905–14; Opposition to Tsarist rule 1914–17: the impact of war and the February Revolution; Provisional Government and the Bolshevik Revolution; The Bolshevik consolidation of power and the Civil War; War Communism and the New Economic Policy (NEP).
- China: conflict, crisis and change, 1900–89
The fall of the Qing, Warlordism and chaos, 1900–34; The triumph of Mao and the CCP, 1934–49; Change under Mao, 1949–63; The Cultural Revolution and its impact, 1965–76; China, 1976–89.
Assessment - Paper 2:
One hour and 30-minute examination comprised of two sections, with a mixture of extended writing and essay-based questions. Section A is based on the selected historical investigation and Section B on the breadth study in change.
U3 (Yr7) 1066 -1485
This is an exciting introduction to History at secondary school level. We start the year looking at important historical terms and concepts such as chronology, cause, consequence and how historians approach original sources. Naturally 1066 is a momentous year in English history. We study the Battle of Hastings and how William the Conqueror consolidated his power. We subsequently investigate aspects of feudalism which include the importance of the Church, peasant life, the challenges of kingship and the Black Death, particularly emphasising its role as an historical turning point.
L4 (Yr8) 1509- 1900
In L4 we follow aspects of the religious and political roller-coaster years of the Tudors and Stuarts, finishing the year by looking at some of the reasons why Great Britain became the first industrial nation. L4 pupils examine the way the balance of power was shifting from the monarch to parliament.
U4 (Yr9) Aspects of 20th Century History
The first two years of History at St Catherine's have largely concerned monarchy, the Church and the nobility. In U4 it is the turn of 'the people' to make their voices heard. We carry out a depth study of WW1 which is enhanced later in the year by a the Activities Week trip to the battlefield of Ypres and the Somme.
In the final two terms we examine the struggle for equality, focused on the Women's Suffrage Campaign in Great Britain and Civil Rights in the USA. In addition girls study the Holocaust and Hiroshima.
L4 students take part in an interactive study day run by the learning team at the ‘Mary Rose’ museum. This enables the girls to discover more about the Tudor world, and the work of the historian, by examining artefacts and historical documents. As well as learning about the historical significance of the Mary Rose itself, girls will also develop their critical thinking skills by examining conflicting evidence to set, test and defend hypotheses about the sinking of the ship.
As part of their yearly Activities Week, all U4 students visit the WW1 Battlefields. This visit will challenge the girls emotionally as we visit landmarks such as the Thiepval memorial, experience the Last Post ceremony at Menin Gate and walk through Tyne Cot, the largest British and Commonwealth cemetery in the world. Our experience of offering this trip over many years is that the girls are profoundly moved to see the graves of men who sacrificed their lives during the Great War and leave with a greater understanding and empathy about the impact of war.
The French Revolution is a major unit in the History A level examination. Our biannual trip to Paris supplements and reinforces the girls’ understanding of this complex and fascinating period. I am delighted that we have secured the services of Professor David Andress who has accompanied us as our expert guide. Professor Andress is an internationally-recognised historian of the French Revolution, and especially on the politics and culture of Paris during the upheavals of the 1790s. Visits include the Salle de Jeu de Paume, Versailles, the Louvre, the Pantheon and the Conciergerie