Novelist Michael Crichton once famously said: “If you don’t know history, then you don’t know anything. You are a leaf that doesn’t know it is part of a tree.”  Faye Fox-Walker, Head of History at Falinge Park High School in Rochdale, agrees. Having spoken to her as part of our blog series on how Ofsted’s new inspection framework will affect different subject leads, she began by telling us why history is such an important part of the curriculum: “The study of history helps students have a greater understanding of present issues and situations. It gives us a better understanding of people and communities, the changes that have taken place and the factors that have influenced these changes. It should give them the ability to question what they see and form their own arguments. At Falinge Park we believe that through studying History we can help understand and forge our own identities.”

Continuing, Faye went on to discuss what she feels should be taken into consideration when devising intent in a history curriculum: “When we began to review our curriculums in response to the new GCSEs and research into the teaching of history, we wanted to ensure that we did not lose our identity. It was not change for the sake of change or a reaction to fads, but a desire to adapt to the needs of our students and a focus on evidence-based learning.

“When we considered the intent of our curriculum, we began breaking down key themes in historical knowledge, such as power and protest and everyday lives, alongside key historic skills, such as change and continuity and studying evidence, mapping these skills so that they are constantly built on. We began by focussing on planning collaboratively, using the subject knowledge and experience of the whole team to identify misconceptions and links. Our first focus was the end point- what impact do we want to have? What is the big picture of our curriculum? What was important to us? What knowledge and skills do we want students to have at the end of key stage 4? Then breaking this down further to the end of key stage 3 and then further by year group, we wanted to create big aims for each year group in key stage 3 which included the students starting points and what they should already know from key stage 2. With a clear start and end point and structured check points along the way, we have created a plan that ensures we have a vibrant and knowledge rich curriculum that allows for both teacher autonomy and creativity.”

She concluded by explaining what she feels a quality curriculum in her subject should look like: “Whilst the skills of a quality curriculum in history will be similar in many schools, the subjects chosen can vary widely and can be dependent on the make-up of the local community and the needs of the students. All history curriculums should equip students to be able to annotate sources and discover how interpretations of the past have been built.  In Falinge Park local history is integral to our curriculum aims and a driving point of our curriculum because we believe this is how we can make links to identity.

“When we were looking at creating schemes of learning we wanted to ensure that local history is embedded, not added on. We look at protest using Peterloo and the Suffragette movement- both with clear links to Greater Manchester. We then try to go further and look for links to Rochdale. Who from Rochdale marched to St Peter’s Field and why? Why were two suffragettes from Rochdale arrested in London? What does the Manchester cab mystery teach us about attitudes to crime and punishment? Local history can encompass more than just the location of the town, we also look for links to our communities. When studying the wars, we do not just look at Rochdale’s Home Front, we look at the role of the Commonwealth and the role of the Muslim population within the armed forces. We want to inspire students’ intellectual curiosity and ignite something that can give them a sense of belonging.”

Read our other posts in this series by heading to the B11 blog page, where you will find insight from subject leaders in maths, English and science.



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