The History Department is housed in Blomfield’s impressive Museum Block at the very heart of the College. In the midst of the classrooms is the magnificent Garnett Room, which serves as our library and lecture hall. Central to the Department’s ethos is that pupils understand that the taught courses are just small windows to much broader histories. We creatively present many opportunities for pupils to appreciate the significance, impact and drama of the developments of cultures and civilisations. Amid the ongoing challenges and opportunities facing society, a comprehension of History appears as urgent as ever. We are steadfast that the materials pupils encounter are explored in the context of the modern world, explicitly addressing political, social, cultural, religious, economic and environmental factors.
The Department is staffed by experts in an impressive range of topic areas, from medieval culture and 18th century ideology to modern politics, and beaks tend to teach their specialisms. Teaching is creative, dynamic and directed by the particular interests and requirements of our pupils.
In the Shell, History is incorporated into the Form programme. Thereafter, those who choose to study the subject will follow the CIE IGCSE Modern World programme. This allows for the exploration of dramatic and often tragic international tensions (1919 to the 1980s) as well as spectacular domestic crises in one country (Germany 1919–1945).
In the Sixth Form we offer courses from the OCR A level syllabus. Our topics span the 11th to the 19th centuries and include the Crusades, the Plantagenet monarchy in the 13th century, the Italian Renaissance, the early and mid Tudors, the English Civil War, the rise of the British Empire, the French Revolution and 19th century French politics.
Our enrichment opportunities go far beyond the classroom syllabi. We have a splendid library, housed in the beautiful and much-used Garnett Room. The latter also serves as the hub for a variety of co-curricular clubs and events. At the core of these is HATA (the History and the Arts society), whose purpose is to explore links between all historical periods and their cultural context. Through HATA, pupils are encouraged to gain a wide knowledge and understanding of contrasting periods and patterns through the ages. The busy and well-attended HATA programme includes a weekly seminar as well as weekly trips for all years, visiting anything from ancient oak woods to Norman churches to factories in Swindon.
We welcome several distinguished speakers each year and have public ‘Medley’ evenings in which ambitious pupils give short lectures on areas of interest. Once a year, we dress up garishly and re-enact a great historical event, and dozens of pupils cheerfully wield hockey sticks: past examples have been Agincourt, Culloden and the Russian Revolution. We host a regular quiz, a Question Time and numerous events tailored to the interests of pupils, such as a ‘Spanish Reconquista Breakfast’. Our commitment to offering foreign trips reflects our desire to go beyond the standard curriculum: we have been to Morocco, Tuscany and Berlin.