History is taught with the aim of fostering each pupil’s lifelong interest in the history of this country and of the wider world. We are aware that a pupil’s years of studying history as a compulsory subject are almost over by the time they leave prep school and so we offer a broad historical syllabus and one which is so stimulating and inspiring that a large number of our pupils will, and do in fact, choose to continue to study history when it becomes an option for GCSE after year 9.
As far as possible, we have retained a chronological approach, commencing with Ancient Egypt in Year 3 and ending with English Civil War in year 8. In the prep school History is taught as a separate subject by enthusiasts and by specialists using a wide variety of teaching styles in a lively and active way. Our course is designed to cover the History Study Units of the National Curriculum in their entirety throughout Key Stage 1 and 2, as well as six of the units at Key Stage 3. An additional Medieval History Unit is taken in Year 5. Pupils are fully prepared for Common Entrance, Scholarship and other entrance exams.
Living History comes to us when we run our History Days, such as the whole school Magna Carta celebration in June 2015, and when we take groups of pupils to visit sites of historical interest. Many if not all school trips have a historical element and opportunities for cross curricular work are seized wherever possible. Recent examples include visits to Windsor Castle, the Victorian village at Blists Hill and to Ironbridge, trips to Rome, Pompeii, St. Albans, Fishbourne Roman Palace and Bath, visits to Normandy including the Bayeux Tapestry and the Normandy Beaches, Art department trips including one to Stanley Spencer’s WW1 murals at Sandham Memorial Chapel, and trips to the Somme and Ypres Battlefields and to the Anne Frank Museum in Amsterdam. The History department organises regular visits to the Tower of London, Highclere Castle, Warwick Castle and The Imperial War Museum.
At OPS, History is often cited by our young pupils as their favourite subject. Our children are curious about the core topics, inspired by the way these topics are delivered and grasp, at least by the time they reach year 8, that George Santanaya’s sage perspective on History is worth remembering: “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”