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Humanities: History, RE & Geography


Classroom 4

Our aims


The department sets out to broaden students' understanding of history from prehistoric times to the modern day. In the process, students learn a multitude of key historical concepts and skills. We strive to enable students to effectively deploy these skills, thereby improving levels of communication and critical analysis. Students will be able see how the past is relevant today and have the opportunity to learn from each other as well. We aim to give students the tools to be able to judge and analyse as well as think critically about people and events.



The courses we run

During Key Stage 3, students learn to identify important terms and develop historical skills. During the first year, study areas include the Romans, the Norman Conquest, as well as key themes and events from the Middle Ages. This includes medieval warfare, knights, and castles, of which students will have the opportunity to visit.  In Year 8 the focus switches to the Tudors and the reigns of Henry VIII and Elizabeth I in particular. Students will be able to look at such topics as Tutor fashion, food, and crime as well as events like the Great Fire of London.  Studies in Year 9 begin with looking at the world in the early 1900’s leading on to World War One. They will look at Hitler and also World War Two and this will be followed by the Holocaust. This will be followed by the Cold War and its results. By the final half term students will begin the GCSE course this will involve looking at the American West unit.

The GCSE course opens with a period study on The American West covering topics such as the Plains Indians, conflicts and tension, buffalo, and Billy the Kid. There will be another study on Weimar and Nazi Germany. This will cover aspects such as the rise of Hitler and the creation of a dictatorship. There will also be topics on Medicine in Britain from 1250 until today which will be coupled with the topic of The Western Front in World War One: Injuries, treatment and the trenches. The remaining topic is Early Elizabethan England and will look at areas such as the Spanish Armada and the New World.

At A level students will studied Tsarist and Communist Russia 1855-1964 and The Making of Modern Britain 1951-2007, which will be taught together over the two years.  The Russia unit covers autocracy, reform and revolution up to 1917 and the emergence of Communist dictatorship and reaction up to 1964.  The Britain unit covers the post-war period and looks at the various twists and turns in society and politics all the way up to 2007.   

Items of particular interest

With empathy being a key Historical skill various speakers are invited in to school to educate keys stage 3 students on topics such as the Romans, Tudors and Stuarts. Furthermore some GCSE students and all A level students have the opportunity to attend lectures from academic specialists specific to the content they study at GCSE, AS and A2. Some of our A level students have been invited to Auschwitz and give lessons based on their experience to their peers and GCSE students. Some Year 10 students will also get the opportunity to visit Berlin in relation to their GCSE studies.

Spiritual, Moral, Social & Cultural Development through the History Department


The study of History involves a sense of curiosity and the mystery of how and why events in the past happened and raises questions as to what could have happened if events had had different results. Artefacts are used to give pupils a sense of the past and aid pupils in understanding the people who produced and used these objects. Pupils are encouraged to explore the role played by important individuals, for good or ill, in the shaping of the world we live in. Pupils also reflect upon different interpretations of the past and how these interpretations have been arrived at.


Pupils are asked to consider and comment on moral questions and dilemmas. Events and beliefs in the past will often be at odds with what we would consider unacceptable today (and were to some people in the past also) Pupils will be encouraged to show compassion for people facing dilemmas and to empathise with decisions which people in the past made and the reasoning behind these decisions. Notions of right and wrong are explored in connection with events from the past, linking with the value of justice.


Pupils will explore the similarities and contrasts between past and present societies and be made aware of how, in the main, we are very fortunate to live in ‘the modern world’ which links with the value of thankfulness. They will examine how other cultures have had a major impact on the development of ’British’ culture. Pupils will also be encouraged to build up their own social development through collaborative and team working activities. The study of social issues is a common theme in History lessons.


Pupils will study, and be encouraged to gain an understanding of and empathise with, people from different cultural backgrounds. They will examine how other cultures have had a major impact on the development of ’British’ culture. Pupils develop a better understanding of our multicultural society through studying links between local, British, European and world history. The contribution of different cultures to human development and progress are studied, which links with the values of wisdom and endurance.

Specific examples of Spiritual, Moral Social and Cultural Develop in History include:

  • The use of artefacts to understand how historians study the past and to help pupils gain an understanding of the people who produced these objects
  • The study of 19th century living and working conditions (including child labour)
  • The role of individuals, for example Florence Nightingale
  • Pupils explore the beliefs and values of past societies and from different cultures
  • Pupils exploring the nature of slavery and the slave trade and the fight for abolition
  • Social issues - the study of the experiences of women in Britain during the 20th century
  • Pupils exploring the treatment and persecution of minorities in Hitler’s Germany


It is not the aim of this school to promote any particular religious standpoint. Emphasis will be placed upon the development of skills, attitudes and concepts which enable students to recognise the particular importance which a belief has for the individual or group, and reflect on its significance or otherwise for their own developing beliefs and values.

Religious Education also involves the learning of a body of knowledge. This knowledge is about the way people think, believe and behave. Students will be encouraged to reflect on and think about the significance of personal beliefs.

While the development of knowledge, skills and understanding is central to this agreed syllabus, it is also vital that RE encourages pupils to develop positive attitudes to their learning and to the beliefs and values of others. The following four attitudes are essential for good learning in RE and should be developed at each stage or phase: self-awareness, respect for all, open-mindedness, appreciation and wonder. 

The courses we run

During Key Stage 3, students learn to develop skills that are central to RE. These include enquiry, reflection, communication and evaluation. During the first year study areas include beliefs about God, festivals and rites of passage and Buddhism.

In Year 8 the focus switches to the study of Sikhism followed by importance of sacred texts. We reflect on what makes a place sacred and we explore the Hindu faith.

In Year 9 the students explore attitudes to Islam, followed by exploring human rights issues. Students consider ultimate questions such as ‘why are we here’ when they study the topic of science and creation. We consider important and contemporary questions such as is religion dangerous?
The examination is based upon a study of Christianity and Islam, but with a clear emphasis on students developing their own opinions on relevant subject matters. Students complete the following modules over this time.

Core RE

Alongside Personal Development all Year 10 students follow a Core RE course exploring contemporary religious, moral and philosophical issues.

In the first term the course focuses on the moral issues surrounding money, wealth and poverty. In the second term the students will consider the question of whether religion makes you happier. In the third term there will be a focus on whether some careers are more moral than others. Finally, we will consider matters of life and death such as abortion, euthanasia and animal rights.

Although this is a non-examined course, students will be assessed on the skills they have developed through both verbal and written tasks.

AQA GCSE Full Course specification

Year 10 students are given the opportunity to choose the accredited AQA GCSE Religious Studies Course which will be examined in June 2019. There are two components that are examined. The first topic area is the study of the beliefs, teachings and practices of Christianity and Islam. The second section is entitled thematic studies and includes religious and non-religious attitudes to peace and conflict, crime and punishment as well as human rights and social justice.


What skills students develop

• Students will gain important skills linked to the Edexcel mark scheme – Knowledge, Opinion, Explanation and Evaluation. Furthermore, there will be clear emphasis on SPaG (Spelling, Punctuation and Grammar)

How students are assessed

• Students are assessed solely on two one hour and a half exams at the end of Year 11 – each exam is worth 50% of their overall grade.


Homework is set regularly in-line with the Humanities faculty. Homework is often set as a means to consolidate and further knowledge from the classroom so it is an essential tool in completing the full course GCSE. Homework can also take the guise of practice exam questions/techniques which help to strengthen students' awareness of the examination process.

Current Key Stage 5 

At Key Stage 5 students study A Level Philosophy and Ethics (OCR). This highly respected course is split into three subjects – Philosophy and Ethics and development in Christian thought. Students will be taught each subject separately and will receive an A level in Religious Studies qualification.

The study of Philosophy and Ethics at A Level is engaging, academically rigorous and excellent preparation for a wide range of courses at degree level. The subject involves a study of philosophical, theological and ethical theories which underpin and structure our world today. An understanding of these ideas is essential to an informed and nuanced engagement with key themes in politics, law, medicine, education, human rights and religion.

The aims of the course are to study core philosophical, theological and ethical theories and learn to evaluate them critically. Through the study of Philosophy and Ethics students will develop the ability to formulate and structure an argument, identify and draw out weaknesses and to express themselves logically and with precision. The course includes two sections on the study of the philosophy of religion and ethics and the study of how religion has influenced both philosophical and ethical scholars.

New A Level specification

From September 2016 our Year 11 students will be the first to study the A level OCR Religious Studies specification. This will include two sections on the study of the philosophy of religion and ethics and the study of how religion has influenced both philosophical and ethical scholars.


One of the most important aspects of the course is outside reading – there is a seemingly endless supply of texts to read and it is a student’s duty to ensure further reading happens at all times. Homework will also be in the guise of further research, presentations and mock examinations as well as longer projects to complete.

How parents can help

Please encourage your son/daughter to keep and maintain a well organised and focused folder of notes. Encourage them to read around the subject whenever possible and engage in conversations with them about what they are learning. Give them the time and space to be able to work and encourage them to communicate with staff whenever possible.

Potential Degree Courses and Career Choices

An A Level in Philosophy of Religion and Ethics is highly regarded by universities and is excellent preparation for degrees in Philosophy, Theology and Religious Studies, PPE Sociology and Law. Graduates in these subjects may go on to careers in Law, Civil Service, Foreign Office and Teaching. The Ethical theories studied in this A Level are also highly relevant to degrees in Medicine, Science and Business.

Items of particular interest

Students will have the opportunity to explore RE at Great Baddow High School using Philosophy4Children teaching techniques. We believe the teaching of philosophy within RE lessons is central to challenging all students, especially the most able students. We regularly encourage visiting speakers from organisations such as the Three Faiths Forum to visit the school to enable students to explore the challenging questions in life. 


Our aim

Understanding the world in which we live has never been so important; changing climates, sustainable development and population growth are just some of the topical issues that are studied in Geography.   It is our aim to enable students to develop an enquiring mind to enable them to question the world they live in.


The courses we run

  • Year 7-8 will be studying 6 units per year covering a range of human and physical geography which incorporate key skills such as map work.
  • Year 9-11 will be doing the new AQA specification (8035) which again covers a range of physical and human geography along with fieldwork and mapskills. 
  • Year 12-13 will be following the new Edexcel specification.

In Key Stage 3, following a module entitled "Our World", students learn about people and places, the environment, war and (get rid please)  industry, physical geography, weather and climate, resources and sustainable development. They also learn about a range of countries such as Japan, Brazil and the UK.

At GCSE there are 3 exams. In Year 10 and 11 students learn about a mixture of physical and human geography.  They learn about the natural hazards, coasts and ecosystems as well as urban landscapes, population and development.  Students will also complete two pieces of  fieldwork.

GCE AS and (get rid please)   A Level course offer students opportunities to study physical, environmental and human geography. Topics such as climate change, natural hazards, water conflicts, globalisation, urban rebranding are covered. The course seeks to develop students' skills in analysing issues, problem solving, decision making and numeracy.


Items of particular interest

Students have the chance to participate in a number of field visits.  Recent trips have seen Year 8 students visit Walton-on-the-Naze to undertake a coastal study.  In addition, recent residential trips have included Year 10 visiting Swanage (get rid please)  , Year 12 visiting Wales and the trip to Italy in 2016 and Iceland 2017 photos of which which can be seen in the gallery below.

Italy 2016 View Photo Gallery    
 Iceland View Photo Gallery    

Social, Moral, Spiritual and Cultural education through Humanities at Great Baddow High School

At Great Baddow High School the Humanities team is well placed to deliver the Spiritual, Moral, Social and Cultural needs of the students in lessons. All subjects are heavily focused on the relationships of people and the world around them. Students are expected to consider the needs and experiences of others, or their own personal responses to events, problems and changes within lessons. Teachers in Humanities encourage students to discuss and debate controversy outside the classroom. At times this is in a formal setting such as in the classroom and homework, but we also encourage young people to enquire, consider and questions beyond the lesson in educational visits and residential trips.

We therefore aim to provide an education that provides children with opportunities to explore and develop their own values and beliefs, spiritual awareness, high standards of personal behaviour, a positive caring attitude towards other people, an understanding of their social and cultural traditions and an appreciation of the diversity and richness of other cultures. There is an open and safe learning environment across the Faculty which allows students to express their views.

  • Moral decisions by individuals, governments and societies are central to the study of topics such as the Holocaust (History and RE) and globalisation (Geography). Workshops have been set for students to talk to survivors of Holocaust survivors in year 9 RE.
  • Social issues and the needs of different groups of people are also common themes that are explicitly recognised on a regular basis, such as in the study of tropical rainforests in year 7 and in GCSE geography or the social order of the Roman Empire and feudal system in Medieval times in year 7.  History also explores race relations within the African slave trade in year 8 and then different immigrant groups within 1920’s America in year 9.
  • Students are given the opportunity to exercise leadership and demonstrate responsibility. This is promoted through team learning activities across the faculty such as the Trade Game in year 8 geography. In playing the game students took on clearly defined roles and developed their knowledge and understanding of relationships between countries around the world. Students design their own rites of passage for birth, growing up, marriage or death in Year 7 RE. In RE teams of students designed multi denominational places of worship for the 21st Century in Year 8.
  • History also promotes this through a variety of group activities such as presentations and role plays.  Students have to nominate each other for various roles and gauge strengths and weaknesses with certain skills.   
  • A Geography visit to Walton to assess tourism saw Year 10 Geographers engage with the public to assess the impact of tourism.
  • Throughout the key stages in History the curriculum students study political systems such as the position of Henry II in year 7, the English civil war in year 8, the Weimar Republic in year 10, governments and public health in year 11, the political system in the USA in year 12 and British political system in year 13 looking at key issues and debates of the 19th and 20th centuries, such as education, public health and democracy, with our concerns today.
  • Spiritual development is encouraged regularly by providing pupils opportunities to appreciate intangible concepts. The idea of truth is central to all History lessons that use sources. Order and beauty, and differing interpretations of these, also form a part of GCSE and AS History when assessing Nazi government and propaganda.
  • Students in Year 9 RE study and explore what it means to be a Muslim in Britain today. The Sixth form have a talk with a local youth pastor from the Cathedral on what means to be a Christian today.
  • The study of topics such as plate tectonics (year 8), Coasts (year 10) and World Cities (year 12) gives the pupils the opportunity to be inspired and awed by the world around.
  • A sense of empathy is consistently extended in lessons. History demands an understanding of others, such as that of women in WW1 during Years 9 and 11 and the experiences of different types of Americans in the first half of the 20th century.
  • A Humanist speaker visits Year 9 and 10 RE classes to talk about living life without God.
  • Studies of migration in year 11 and World Cities in Year 12 provide clear opportunities for geographers to consider the experiences, feelings and respect for others which are very topical and current issues.
  • Cultural appreciation and understanding is fundamental to learning in Humanities. Students are presented with authentic accounts of cultures as diverse as Japan (year 7), Vietnam (GCSE History), Russia (Y12 Impact of War on Nazism), China (Year 11 Population), Kenya (year 8 Development. In RE a school link with a Kenyan teacher has been established to talk to year 10 students answering questions about religion and beliefs in Kenya.
  • The contribution of different cultures to human development and progress is also explored and studied, especially in the Year 11 unit covering the History of Medicine which considers the role of the Christian Church, the Muslim World and Ancient cultures had on the development of medicine and treatment.
  • Visits by the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, a visit by Rev Dave Tomlinson from Holloway in London and visits to Bhaktivedanta Manor Hindu Temple.