Independent Nursery, Junior and Senior School, Edinburgh

History

In the History department we aim for broad, challenging and dynamic experiences inside and outside the classroom.  The expectations we have of our students are high and we make sure that every pupil is working towards and also achieving their potential, playing to their strengths and nurturing new and existing skills as individuals and in teams.

History in S1 and S2:

Alongside essential literacy skills, S1 and S2 Pupils dedicate time to developing essential thinking skills; in History this involves developing the skill of making inferences, assessing evidence, interpretation, presentation and debate.

Pupils analyse artefacts and make their own inferences from ancient archaeology through to everyday objects. Historical mysteries are presented to the class and carefully examined until satisfactory conclusions are drawn from the evidence. Looking at existing interpretations of historical figures, debating and assessing their representation and allowing the pupils to create their own interpretation of the same subject (in digital, written and sculptural forms) allows them to hone the skill of interpretation.

Alongside the topics of ‘The Scottish Wars of Independence’ and ‘Who Are The Scots?’, S1 and S2 classes are both involved in visits to historic sites; Pictavia, Stirling castle, the Wallace monument, Bannockburn and St Vigean’s standing stones. History trips continue throughout the session with the final trip for S1 being a visit to Bothwell castle, where Historic Scotland provide workshops and tours, all within the impressive remains of a 13th century castle that links directly to the ‘Norman Conquest’ study unit.

In pursuing an active and engaging experience, the History department regularly works hand in hand with other subject areas. Whether it is with English to investigate war poetry and stories from the trenches or with drama when S1 re-enact the battle of Hastings. With the help of the PE, Art and Music departments an ambitious re-telling of The Spanish Armada is a more engaging and stimulating History lesson.

History in S3 and S4 :

Building upon the principles of  the Curriculum for Excellence embraced in the earlier stages of their school career, the History Department seeks to engage students who are at this stage  moving into nationally examinable courses. Within the parameters of  syllabuses prescribed by the examining bodies  students pursue active learning through, for example, discussion and debate, the use of  information technology, exposure to a range of  audio-visual resources  and visits to historical sites and heritage centres.

In following a history course in the upper school, students continue to develop essential professional and life skills through historical research, interpreting and evaluating evidence and report and essay writing. Historical issues of cause and effect are examined and discussed with reference to modern parallels to show the relevance of the past to all our lives. In this way the History Department seeks to foster a life-long interest in the subject whilst preparing pupils for the challenges of the examination hall and the vocational and professional demands of the wider world beyond the confines of the classroom.

 

History in S5 and S6

This approach is sustained and further developed in the final stages of the student’s school career. To an even greater extent, of course, the demands of external examinations impinge upon the student’s consciousness.  Important as these may be, however, the History Department  never loses sight of the fact that  course work should also act as a preparation for life beyond school.  The skills of research, interpretation and evaluation, essay  and  report  writing alluded to above are essential for students moving into the tertiary sector of education – be it in the disciplines of  law, medicine, science or arts -  and into their professional careers. The history course also prepares students to think in a mature and questioning manner with regard to the economic, political and social issues which they will face as citizen.