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 / Russell Baker 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!
Mrs Nicole Fenning
Joined St Catherine’s in September 2022. Nicole has experience working in both the state independent sectors, teaching both internationally as well as in the UK. Most recently she was Head of Sixth Form at an independent girls’ school in Ascot. She has combined her love of travel with teaching, living in both Mexico and Abu Dhabi. Nicole has a strong interest in Modern History with a focus on international relations. When she is not working she spends time with family and friends and is kept busy by her young son.
Other teaching staff:
Mrs Lucy Dibsdall MA St. Andrews, PGCE (Spanish and French)
MFL / 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.
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).
- Changes in medicine, c1848 – 1948 Progress in the mid 19th century; Nightingale, Chadwick, Snow and Simpson; Discovery and development, 1860–75; Lister and Pasteur; Accelerating change, 1875–1905; Ehrlich, Koch and chemistry; Government action and war, 1905–20; Advances in medicine, surgery and public health 1920–48; the NHS
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.
The History Department at St Catherine’s is committed to studying a wide range of experiences from the past across the middle-school (KS3) curriculum and incorporating diversity into schemes of work as part of a wider narrative. This includes (but is not limited to) diversity of race, nationality, religion, gender, social class, voting status and age. The department is committed to exposing pupils to as wide a range of ‘voices from history’ as possible in the 60 mins per week allocated for History, believing that these intertwining stories give pupils a deeper understanding of the past.
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
The year begins with an analysis of the religious turmoil of the Tudor period. As part of this course students examine recent research carried out by Miranda Kaufmann into diversity in Tudor society (Black Tudors: the untold story). A unit on 'the changing power of the monarchy' in Britain between 1603-1800 investigates the causes of the English Civil War and subsequent shift to constitutional monarchy. We will then challenge the stereotypes of the history of African Kingdoms, and move to explore the trans-Atlantic slave trade. To conclude the year, students consider the impact of Empire and industrial change on the lives of the working class in Britain.
U4 (Yr9) Aspects of 20th Century History
In Upper 4, girls' study political change in Britain 1815 - 1928 and consider how and why the franchise was extended during this period looking at methods of protest and the progress which was achieved. This study includes events such as the Peterloo Massacre, the diverse Chartist movement, and the struggle for female suffrage by the suffragists and suffragettes. A term is devoted to a study of the First World War, examining the 'Great War' from a social perspective. We cover topics such as propaganda and recruitment, Pals' Battalions, the importance of soldiers from across the Empire (including a case study based upon a documentary about the ‘unremembered’ soldiers from the African continent directed by Black British Historian, David Olusoga)and the essential role played by women in the war. In addition, the girls will have a series of lessons about the Holocaust and the historical roots of antisemitism.
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.