History is an ongoing debate about the past. At Eltham College, we aim to equip our Sixth Form historians with the tools to reach their own conclusions on complex historical questions, through developing their ability to analyse evidence and craft convincing arguments. Through their lessons and wider preparatory reading, students not only develop a detailed understanding of past societies, but also their ability to evaluate – and make judgements about – competing interpretations. These skills are highly valued by top universities, and employers in a range of different fields.
Students who choose to study History at A level will follow the Edexcel syllabus (found here: https://qualifications.pearson.com/en/qualifications/edexcel-a-levels/history-2015.html). This requires candidates to study four modules; two units in the Lower Sixth and two units in the Upper Sixth.
Currently, these topics include a depth study on Mao’s China 1949 and 1976, and a breadth study on Russia from 1917 to 1991 in the Lower Sixth. In the Upper Sixth, students complete a breadth module on the British Empire between 1763 and 1914, and a coursework element on the historical interpretations of the Russian Revolution. The course is assessed through this internally marked coursework assignment, and three examination papers at the end of the Upper Sixth.
Students will have two teachers; one for each ‘side’ of the course in both years. All teachers encourage students to undertake their own wider reading for each lesson (of which there are ten each week), and we aim to teach our Sixth Formers in a style akin to undergraduate seminars. This allows students to question what they have read, air their ideas, test theories, and challenge competing interpretations. As well as the examination board textbooks, students are provided with a range of historians’ work to deepen their understanding of the syllabus content, and are also encouraged to make use of the excellent text and electronic collections in the Mervyn Peake Library to support their learning.
Trips, activities and clubs
All students are encouraged to get involved in the department’s organisation of talks on a range of topics, prompting students to debate complex historical questions beyond the confines of the syllabus. For prospective History undergraduates and Oxbridge applicants, the Department runs its own bespoke extension programme in the Lower and Upper Sixth, to prepare students for the subject at degree level. We also currently offer a trip to Moscow at the end of the Lower Sixth to complement students’ study of twentieth-century Russia.