Quick Links

Useful Links


The History department aims for students to enjoy learning, to be engaged in finding out about the past and to become independent learners through developing inquiring minds.

The purpose of History is to make sense of the present by learning from the past; to build a picture of the past; to make connections between events; to understand what influences human behaviour and why people are motivated.

History helps students develop a range of skills including the ability to understand that previously acquired knowledge is not always accurate. Students will develop questioning skills, learn how to critically analyse evidence to reach conclusions, but also understand that there are not always answers to every question.

We also hope that through the study of History students will be encouraged to participate positively in society.

Key Stage 3

Students will learn about the past through investigating a series of enquiry questions.

Here are examples of some of the questions each year group will be investigating this year:

Year 7

  • What evidence is there of London’s world history in our buildings?
  • Why was 1066 a year of crisis in Britain?
  • How far did the Normans change England?
  • Should Magna Carta be described as “a great document in our history”?
  •  “Mucky and miserable.” Is this a good way to describe a peasant’s life in the Middle Ages?
  • Rats or rebels. Which were more significant?
  • Greed, Glory or God? Why did people really go on Crusade?
  • It was all about Henry having a son wasn’t it? Exploding myths about the Reformation.
  • Why was Shakespeare so keen to tell stories about the Wars of the Roses?

Year 8

  • Why did the people of England kill their king?
  • Why was Oliver Cromwell’s head buried 3 centuries after he died?
  • Culture clash. Why was there no meeting of minds in the New World?  (growth of Spanish, Portuguese and British Empires as an overview.)
  • Poacher turned gamekeeper. Why did British attitudes towards the slave trade change?
  • Fingers weary and worn. Why is it so difficult to find out what children’s working conditions were like?
  • What impact did the industrial revolution have on Elephant and Castle?
  • Why did the French overthrow their king in 1789?
  • Why do people tell such different stories about the storming of the Bastille?

Year 9

  • “The unsinkable” Titanic. Who should be held responsible for the loss of so many lives?
  • Who should we thank for women winning the vote in 1918?
  • Why should Southwark remember its war dead?
  • Why were the Nazis able to seize power in Germany?
  • Why didn’t the Holocaust end Genocide?
  • What were the key turning points in World War two?
  • Was London really the place to be for immigrants in the 1950s and 1960s?
  • Why did Britain stop being a superpower?
  • Who was more significant: Gandhi or Mandela?

Further details of the English National Curriculum for History can be found here:



The exam board we use for GCSE History is WJEC. We follow specification “A”; Modern World History.

The following units are studied and are assessed through a 75 minute exam at the end of the 2 years:

  • Russia in Transition 1905-1924
  • The Development of the USA 1929-2000
  • Germany in Transition 1919-1947

Students are also required to complete a controlled assessment on a topic related to British History.

The current year 11 controlled assessment will focus on the following key issues: 

  • The Experiences of Immigrants to London after World War Two
  • The causes of the 1981 Brixton Riots

Further details of the course can be found here:


Enrichment Activities

Each year there are a range of History enrichment activities for both staff and students at Notre Dame. Some of them are outlined below:

Divided by Race: United in War and Peace

In the summer of 2014 a group of year 9 students participated in an after school club where they investigated the role and experiences of servicemen from around the British Empire.

The skills they developed included research; interview techniques; communication and teamwork. Students went to the West Indian Association of Service Personnel in Clapham and interviewed World War Two Veteran Alan Wilmott who left Jamaica in 1941 to join the Royal Navy.

Some of our students with WW2 veteran Alan WIlmott


Imperial War Museum/ New Perspectives

Students took part in a project with the Imperial War Museum where they investigated stories related to Africa and World War One.

Their research was inspired by key artefacts and documents and they spent time researching the Imperial War Museum Archives and investigating the stories in depth. The stories they had investigated were then pitched by the students to Imperial War Museum curators. They then worked with film makers from Chocolate Films to storyboard their ideas and make animated films. These films are now included in the new First World War galleries at the Imperial War Museum.

The photographs were taken on the day the students made their animations and show them with the key object and theme that inspired them.



 Propaganda/ Recruitment


IOE Holocaust Education Development Program

Notre Dame became a beacon school for Holocaust Education in 2012. The school has hosted training from the Institute of Education in Holocaust Education. Staff from local schools across Southwark attended this.

Museum Outreach

The History Department works closely with local museums and historians.

The following outreach events have been arranged for this year:

Tuesday 7th October 2014: Museum of London workshop
Generation Windrush (year 11)

Wednesday 22nd October 2014: Museum of London
Black History Month Assembly
(Key Stage 3)

Monday 17th November: video conference national archives
“All Pals Together” (year 9)

Monday 16th March 2015: Museum of London workshop
Suffragette”(year 9)

Thursday 21st May 2015: Museum of London workshop
Life or death: surviving the Black Death” (year 7) 


Belgium – World War One cemeteries and trench experience

For over 15 years students from Notre Dame have travelled to Belgium to visit sites related to World War One.

These sites include Langemarck and Tyne Cot cemeteries, Sanctuary Wood, the Menin Gate and the town of Ypres. This is a very popular trip and many students who have attended have described it as the best school trip they have been on.


Other trips take full advantage of London’s cultural history and include:

  •          Museum of London Docklands
  •          National Maritime Museum
  •          Westminster Abbey

         Imperial War Museum

Students on their way to Westminster Abbey for a study day.

Students on a dual site visit to the National Maritime Museum and Museum of London Docklands.