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.
Mrs Nicky Higgs, BA Manchester (History)
Head of Department & Politics teacher
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 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 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 is the Russell Baker Housemistress. 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!
Other teaching staff:
Mrs Lucy Dibsdall MA St. Andrews, PGCE (Spanish and French)
MFL / History teacher
Mrs Claire Wyllie MA Dunelm, PGCE (Religious Studies and History)
Religious Studies / History teacher
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 – The American Dream - Reality and illusion: The USA 1945 - 80. The course encompasses some of the major events of the twentieth century and gives an insight into political, economic, social and cultural change inside one of the post-war Superpowers.
- 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.
For May /June 2021 examination series only, students will study and be assessed on 3 topics instead of 4.
Paper 1: Pupils will answer questions on two topics (Germany 1918 - 45 & Superpower Relations, 1943 - 72) as usual. This paper will be 90 minutes.
Paper 2: Pupils will answer questions on one topic only (Russia 1905 - 24) and the paper will be 45 minutes. There will be no breadth study (China 1900 - 89)
Question types and mark schemes remain unaffected.
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
In Upper 3, the girls will evaluate the methods used by William the Conqueror to consolidate Norman rule and consider how much the Norman Conquest changed England. They will study the importance of the medieval Church and learn about the 'Wars of the Cross' and the conflict between Muslims and Christians in the Holy Land. They will also learn about the problems faced and decisions taken by a series of medieval monarchs identifying key themes such as struggles with the Church, conflict with the barons and the methods used to maintain control.
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
In Upper 4, girls' study political change 1815 - 1928 and consider how and why the franchise was extended during this period. They further their understanding of politics and protest through a depth-study of the USA in the 1960s covering topics such as the black Civil Rights movement, the anti-Vietnam War protests and the feminist movement. A term is devoted to a study of the First World War, examining the 'Great War' from a social perspective, and covering topics such as recruitment, Pals' Battalions, the role of the Empire and women and the war. Finally, there is an opportunity to examine the post-war period, the rise of the Nazis and the Holocaust.
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
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.