Humanities

Curriculum page subject to review.  

Directors of Learning design sequences of lessons that combine with our Personal Development Programme delivered by Form Tutors. These closely align with our mission to ‘Teach What Matters’, a deliberate approach to ensure we address challenges that our students are likely to face and to give them the best possible chance of meeting their limitless potential. 

We want all Holyhead students to be able to;

  • Solve problems
  • Apply knowledge to the real world
  • Adapt to change and be resilient to failure
  • Be aware of their own thought processes and memory (metacognition)
  • Be articulate and express themselves
  • Think critically

We want all students at Holyhead to be strong in relation to the following attributes;

  • Leadership
  • Organisation
  • Resilience
  • Initiative
  • Communication

We also want them to recognise the best of human thinking and appreciate the fundamental British Values.  

Miss C Bradley

Director of Learning for Humanities

Mr R Smeaton

Assistant Director of Learning for Humanities and Subject Lead for History

Miss A Khatun

Subject Lead for Religious Studies

Humanities is a subject that immerses learners in the world around them. We provide an awe-inspiring and eye-opening curriculum that allows students to explore the physical environment and the people within it, including past, present and future. Through Humanities our students are able to develop their knowledge of major world events, issues and religions alongside enriching their spiritual, moral, social and cultural understanding. We strive to promote tolerance and respect for people from all walks of life whilst developing critical thinkers and effective problem solvers.

History

At Holyhead, history is vitally important to our students. Being from such diverse ethnic backgrounds, they bring to this school a wide variety of histories, cultures and stories. Through the study of history, we are able to explore these stories, unravel their histories and give them a greater understanding of the community around them.

We also want to develop them with a sense of pride in their community and country by showing them how it has developed, changed and impacted the rest of the world.

We aim to instil our classes with the ability to think critically, reach reasoned, evidenced judgements and use their initiative to discover the truth about the past.

We aim to ensure that all our students…

  • Understand the community around them with a focus on how it has grown, developed and changed over time and the impact it has had on the nation.
  • Are aware of the impact that Britain has had on the wider world. From exploration to colonisation and through times of peace and war.
  • Are aware of the impact the wider world has had on Britain, why we are the multicultural nation we are today and the benefits that brings.
  • Understand concepts of history such as continuity and change; cause and consequence so they can come to their own reasoned judgements and conclusions, including on the historical significance of the events and individuals they study..
  • Will become familiar with how to study history using evidence, interpretations and understand how to use them to the best effect.

What are the key skills of a Historian?

In history, we aim to develop a variety of skills that can be used not just in history, but across all subjects as well as outside of school, in college, university and places of work.

  • We develop students’ understanding of contextualisation – getting students to think about the bigger picture of specific events. 
  • We want them to understand how things have changed and continued over time and the impact this has had on our world.
  • We look at causes of events and how the smallest of incidents can have the biggest of impacts.
  • We get students to think flexibly, looking at things in different ways, considering alternative arguments and how different events can cause different outcomes.
  • We also get students to create balanced and logical arguments, that they are able to put forward in a calm, professional and reasoned manner.
  • We seek to build source analysis skills to enable students not only to interpret meaning and purpose, but also to think critically about strengths and limitations of evidence in reaching considered judgements.

Ultimately these skills all allow historians to be analytical thinkers, have good communication and writing skills, be able to complete their own research and help develop their problem-solving skills.

Geography

Geography at Holyhead inspires in pupils a curiosity and fascination about the world and its people. Topics are taught through big questions, encouraging geographical enquiry of a range of key themes ranging from hazards to human rights. Our students’ geographical knowledge spans huge scales, ranging from local studies of Birmingham and the UK to global investigations of China, Africa and the Middle East. Geography aims to develop key skills in our students including numerical, graphical and field investigation skills, as well as encourage character and personal development through evoking empathy and compassion.

The key skills of a Geographer:

  • Comprehensive knowledge and understanding of key geographical issues
  • Application of geographical information
  • Understanding of complex interactions and interrelationships
  • Use of a wide range of geographical evidence
  • Evaluate and assess key ideas and concepts
  • Construct well-structured arguments
  • Write well-evidenced conclusions
  • Use a range of numerical, graphical and map skills

Religion & Ethics

Holyhead consists of students from a variety of religious and cultural backgrounds; Religion and Ethics provide a forum for learning about the way that others choose to live both within Holyhead and beyond. However, R & E at Holyhead surpasses the knowledge of religion; its beliefs and practices. Our fundamental aim is to allow students to develop a deeper understanding of the meaning and purpose of their own lives; through a range of important questions relating to spiritual development students are encouraged to consider their values and purpose, whilst considering the beliefs and experiences of others. The curriculum offers opportunities for developing mutual respect, celebrating diversity, understanding rights and responsibilities and cultivating philosophical minds. Through this, we provide students with attitudes that prepare them for their future role within society as active and responsible citizens.

Key Stage 3

We aim to ensure that all students are taught…

History

KS3 Curriculum Intent:

The fundamental principles and concepts that students need to acquire in order to progress successfully through the curriculum in History:

  • Students need to understand what skills are used in History and how to apply them.  
  • They need both a chronological and thematic understanding of key events covered.  
  • Students should use their skills to analyse sources, making decisions about utility, and make inferences from information given. 
  • Students should be able to create balanced and reasoned arguments with judgements that are supported with evidence they are able to find.  
  • Communication skills should be developed, with pupils able to share knowledge in both verbal and written forms.  

We begin in Year 7 with History Skills as we want our pupils to have a basis of knowledge they can refer back to throughout their study of history.  The skills we cover (significance, chronology and working with evidence) are all vital in any other topic they will study so without introducing them to these concepts the students will struggle going forward.  Although history is taught in part in primary schools, to varying degrees, it is important that we introduce them to history as a discipline rather than just knowledge of the past, and teaching them these skills early on helps achieve this.  The pupils are able to apply all three of these skills straight away in the Handsworth through Time topic, which interests the pupils as it involves their own area, so we can see the use of starting with these lessons.  

Overview of the KS3 History Curriculum:

KnowledgeAttributes/CharacterSkillsExperiences
Year 7• Historical Skills
• Handsworth Through Time
• Ancient Empires
• Medieval Europe
• The Ottoman Empire
• The English Civil War
• Responsibility
• Communication
• Respect
• Organisation
• Chronology
• Significance
• Criteria setting
• Source analysis
• Change and continuity
• Inference
• Tour of Handsworth
Year 8• Empire and Slavery
• The First World War
• The Holocaust
• The Second World War
• History Mysteries
• Empathy
• Responsibility
• Respect
• Communication
• Organisation
• Source analysis
• Making a judgement
• Cause and consequence
• Significance
• Change and continuity
• Inference
• Virtual tours of Auschwitz and Holocaust Museums (America and Berlin)
• RAF Museum Visit
• Holocaust surivor talks
Year 9• Migration
• Crime and Punishment
• Modern political issues
• The Cold War
• Empathy
• Responsibility
• Respect
• Communication
• Organisation
• Source analysis
• Making judgements
• Setting criteria
• Chronology
• Cause and consequence
• Significance
• Virtual Tours
• Prison Museum visits
• RAF Museum (Cold War workshop)

The approach we take to KS3 History is logical and ensures that both knowledge and skills are built up over time, not overloading the pupils while pushing them to develop both constantly.  

The topics we use are varied and not limited in time or place, ensuring the pupils have a broad understanding of the world around them and further afield.  This also allows all our pupils to feel that their own history and heritage is respected through the study of the subject at Holyhead, helping to ensure that we really do ‘Teach What Matters’.   We ensure our pupils can relate to the topics we teach them, ensuring they are understood and based on real-world experiences.  We attempt to include as many opportunities to develop cultural capital within our schemes of learning, including trips, virtual tours and other media which makes history a real, living thing for our pupils, a subject that is not simply learned, but is experienced too.  

Year 7

After pupils have completed their topic covering History Skills they are ready to apply these as historians to topics across KS3.  We begin with Handsworth Through Time as this is both geographically and culturally relevant to our students, a topic that really immerses them into the study of the past.  This topic is also very tailored to the historical skills that have just been covered so they are able to begin practising straight away. 

After this topic, we begin our chronological approach which spans years 7 and 8.  We begin with the Ancient World, a topic often covered at KS2, but developed in our curriculum in much more detail and with a more specific focus on historical skills.  This allows the pupils to study civilisations far removed from the one they currently live in.  This continues across Year 7 as they then study Medieval Europe and the Ottoman Empire.  Medieval Europe is key in introducing the pupils to concepts and knowledge they will study at KS4, but also gives those who will not study it beyond Year 9 a good understanding of different societies.  We begin to build in more historical skills, such as focusing on the concepts of change and continuity, as they compare Medieval Europe and the Ottoman Empire.  This ensures they are continually developing their skills in the discipline of history beyond what is taught in the History Skills topic.   We finish the chronological approach of Year 7 with a topic on the English Civil War, which again lends itself to developing complex historical skills and demonstrates change over time to the students.  

Year 8

Into Year 8 the students continue their chronological approach as they look at the growth of the British Empire and the Transcontinental Slave Trade.  By Year 8 the pupils are more mature and able to study more emotive topics such as the Slave Trade, which is taught to an age-appropriate level. Historical skills continue to be developed, particularly source and interpretation analysis which has only been partly embedded in Year 7. 

Year 8 students continue to look at power and control in this chronological layout as they move onto the First World War, Holocaust and then the Second World War.  This ensures they begin to get a real understanding of society at the start of the 20th Century, bringing their knowledge into the more recent past.  Again the pupils are of a more mature age to be able to deal with the concepts and discussions around the Holocaust.  They look at first-person accounts of what went on during this time, continually developing skills that have been covered across KS3 so far.  The Big Picture of KS3 looks at the power, society and conflict – all topics that are studied in the early 20th Century section of this curriculum.  This allows a broad understanding of history, as well as the development of skills across multiple knowledge points.  Year 8 concludes with a topic titled ‘History Mysteries’ which are a series of stand-alone lessons all focusing on a different question that has been unanswered in history or is at least interesting to study and investigate.  These lessons are focused on developing the skills needed in history, including the use of second-order concepts, analysis of sources and interpretations and making judgements with supporting evidence.  This seems the culmination of the students’ work so far as they begin and end the chronological approach of Year 7 and 8 with a sharp focus on skills rather than knowledge.  

Year 9

In Year 9 the students move away from chronological topics and into a thematic approach to History. This begins to help them prepare for studying GCSE History into KS4, but with the knowledge that has been adapted to their level.  We begin with a topic on Migration.  This builds on knowledge they have gained across KS3, including in the Empire and Slavery topic, but also in discussions in multiple other lessons across Year 7 and Year 8, to bring to light a really important topic in history and wider society which many of them will relate to given their backgrounds and family histories.  

Moving on, we look at the theme of Crime and Punishment, which also includes a chronological approach as they follow this theme from Medieval England to the present day. This allows the students to continue embedding their historical skills, including analysing change over time, in a similar way to what is expected of a GCSE student. This helps prepare them for KS4.  

Students then study a topic on Modern Political Issues, which we think is important simply to help them understand the world around them and how history is still impacting modern life. This, again, helps them develop key skills including source and interpretation analysis, but develops this further as they consider their own responses and attitude to these issues which might impact the understanding of the content. Finally, the students begin studying a GCSE topic, the Cold War. This is the culmination of the work they have done across KS3 as they are now ready to use their skills at GCSE level, and even for students who have not chosen to continue the study of the subject, it brings into context some of the current geopolitical issues which exist between Russia and the West.  

Geography

KS3 Curriculum Intent:

The fundamental principles and concepts that students need to acquire in order to progress successfully through the curriculum in Geography:

  • Urbanisation and urban issues
  • Threats to the natural world
  • Sustainability 
  • Water security 
  • Natural hazards
  • Climate change
  • Population trends

Students study a broad range of geographical knowledge at different scales and depths. The balance is even between physical and human geography topics, which is vital for students to gain an appropriate and balanced geography curriculum. Key concepts within geography such as place, space, sustainability and diversity are incorporated across the key stage. The curriculum has been carefully mapped to ensure that new concepts taught can be linked to prior learning through retrieval of both knowledge and skills

Overview of the KS3 Geography Curriculum:

KnowledgeAttributes/CharacterSkillsExperiences
Year 7• Global Issues
• Climatic Hazards
• Tectonic Hazards
• Ecosystems
• UK Geography
• Misconceptions in Geography
• SMSC
• Respect
• Responsibility
• Stewardship
• Empathy
• Compassion
• Global scale map reading
• Identifying the four countries of the UK
• Climate graph analysis
• Use of latitude and longitude
• Visit to Dudley Zoo
• Visit to Birmingham City Centre
• ‘Escaping the Giant Wave’ by Peg Kehret
• ‘Trash’ by Andy Mulligan
Year 8• Climate Change
• Sustainability
• Water Security
• Rivers and Coasts
• Globalisation
• China Synoptic Study
• SMSC
• Respect
• Responsibility
• Stewardship
• Global citizens
• Climate trends
• Cost-benefit analysis
• Stakeholder analysis
• Map reading
• Graph analysis
• River long profiles
• Climate justice protest
• Visit to Carding Mill Valley/Dovedale
• Water calculator
• Netflix: Water Explained
• ‘Plastic Sucks’ by Dougie Poynter
Year 9• Health and Human Rights
• Urbanisation
• Development
• Africa Synoptic Study
• Energy
• Middle East Synoptic Study
• Analysing population pyramids
• Map reading
• Graph reading
• Using development indicators
• Visit to the Natural History Museum
• ‘No One is Too Small to Make a Difference’ by Great Thunberg

Year 7 begins with an investigation into the world’s biggest geographical issues. This allows the students to explore the current economic and social state of the world in which we live. Students will be introduced to key themes in geography including inequality, megacities, overpopulation and migration. Geography at local feeder schools covers a broad range of human and physical geographies, perhaps with little depth. At KS2 there is clear topical focus on countries around the world and links with History. The KS3 curriculum aims to give students a broader and deeper understanding of key concepts within geography including climate change, sustainability, hazards and resources.

Year 7

Geography is taught at varying depths and standards at KS2 and often when our students join in September, they have never explicitly been taught what geography is and the key concepts. For this reason, we begin Year 7 with an exploration of some of the world’s big geographical issues to provide an overview of the current state of the world. The students then investigate the world’s climatic and tectonic hazards which provides a great overview of the key physical processes in Geography and introduces some complex theories such as convection. Students draw on their knowledge of the world’s human issues to form ideas about the biggest natural hazards facing the world currently. Students continue the key concept of issues and threats in geography by investigating the world’s ecosystems. They apply their knowledge of urban issues and hazards to investigate the threats facing the world’s ecosystems and how these are linked to human and physical processes such as urbanisation and wildfires. The year ends with a synoptic study of the UK, drawing knowledge from all Year 7 topics. This includes an investigation into the climate of the UK, the location, issues, and urban process shaping Birmingham. Students will use their skills of reading graphs, maps and forming arguments throughout this topic. All of these skills will have been developed in their prior topics.

Year 8

At the beginning of Year 8, the students should have a good knowledge of the broad concepts within the geography of human and physical processes. These are studied in more depth and scale in Year 8. The key concept of Year 8 is sustainability. To begin, students investigate the causes, impacts and futures of climate change. Here, they continue to use their graph and map reading skills, as well as their evaluative and assessment skills to argue why climate change is a huge global threat. Following on from this topic students are introduced to sustainability as a topic, investigating whether humans currently live sustainability. Here, knowledge from Year 7 is directly referred to including increasing hazards, threats to ecosystems and urban issues such as overpopulation. The concept of sustainability is then applied to the topic of water security, rivers and coasts. Students explore flooding as a natural hazard and draw on their knowledge of drought from Year 7. They investigate the future of water on earth as well as explaining the threats facing coastal communities. Alongside sustainability, Year 8 also focuses on investigating causality and change. A huge change in our world recently has been the concept of globalisation. Globalisation has fantastic links to climate change, sustainability and water. Students investigate this through the topic of globalisation and through a synoptic study of China (one of the biggest players in causing globalisation and the future of globalisation).

Year 9

The key concepts explored in Year 9 are continuity and change. Students will explore the current state of the world in terms of development, health, human rights, urbanisation and energy. Year 9 begins with an investigation into health, human rights and intervention. Big questions such as ‘Is it fair that where you’re born determines how long you live?’ and ‘Do we have a right to intervene in other countries’ troubles?’ shape the topic and provide students with a greater knowledge of the current geo-political state of the world. In order to access the GCSE curriculum, students will need an understanding of the key concepts of urbanisation and development, these topics also have great links with health and human rights, so these topics are taught next. Students will study the difference between developing/developed countries (a key theme taught in Year 7) but deepen this understanding by exploring the historical and geographical causes of uneven development around the world. Students will apply their knowledge of urbanisation, development and health and human rights to the synoptic study of Africa. In this study, key misconceptions will be addressed but also students will deepen their knowledge of the challenges facing some African countries. Lagos will be used as a case study megacity, which will be a great foundation of knowledge for when students look at Mumbai in Year 10. The last topics students study in Year 9 are energy and the Middle East. Energy is a key concept in geography and links really well with their study of climate change and sustainability in Year 8. Their knowledge of energy and the issues that come with it will be applied to the Middle East. The Middle East, being such a contested and relevant case study will provide the students with a fantastic knowledge of sustainability, causality, continuity and change.

Religion and Ethics

KS3 Curriculum Intent:

Learn about religion – Learning about religion includes enquiry into, and investigation of, the nature of religion, its beliefs, teachings and ways of life, sources, practices and forms of expression. It includes the skills of interpretation, analysis and explanation. Pupils learn to communicate their knowledge and understanding using specialist vocabulary. It also includes identifying and developing an understanding of ultimate questions and ethical issues. 

Learn from religion – Learning from religion is concerned with developing pupils’ reflection on and respond to their own and others’ experiences in the light of their learning about religion. It develops pupils’ skills of application, interpretation and evaluation of what they learn about religion. Pupils learn to develop and communicate their own ideas, particularly in relation to questions of identity and belonging, meaning, purpose and truth, and values and commitments.

The fundamental principles and concepts that students need to acquire in order to progress successfully through the curriculum in Religious Studies:

  • Students need to have an understanding of core beliefs within the major world religions, especially Islam and Christianity. These include life after death, creation, beliefs about God, Prophets, holy books etc
  • Students need to have an understanding of core religious acts within the major world religions, especially Islam and Christianity. These include worship, festivals, pilgrimage etc
  • Students need to have an understanding of the beginnings of religion and how this has developed into divergent religious groups, especially within Islam and Christianity
  • Students need to understand how to build a balanced argument – this then leads to the ability to evaluate and make judgements.

Philosophy requires enquiring minds based on scholarship which can be a challenging concept. This unit provides a study into the nature of God, what evidence there is to support belief in God and why some people choose not to. This allows students to consider their own beliefs and values, the reasons for their views which provides a good foundational basis before studying the beliefs and acts of the established world religions. This also provides a generalised approach to creation, religious experiences etc before studying these approaches from a specific religious perspective. There is not a national curriculum for RE and so schools devise curriculum programs based on locally agreed syllabus and non-statutory guidance which means that there are varying qualities of RE provisions at primary level. Some local feeder school curriculum overviews suggest that students should come to Holyhead with an understanding of Christianity, Hinduism, Islam and Judaism as well as more thematic approaches to Rites of Passage, Festivals and Rights and responsibilities. The KS3 curriculum hopes to develop and deepen this level of understanding as well as build knowledge for those with a more restrictive RE offer at KS2. Philosophy is a stepping stone to remind students of these core beliefs and values, and critical thinking to apply.

Overview of the KS3 Religious Studies Curriculum:

KnowledgeAttributes/CharacterSkillsExperiences
Year 7
Year 8
Year 9

What key steps will be taken to ensure that students gain a broad and balanced knowledge within Religious Studies?

  • Throughout the KS3 curriculum students are building knowledge incrementally which means that content is regularly revisited and interleaved amongst most aspects of the schemes – students are repeatedly having to draw upon long term schemas to support learning current knowledge. 
  • Students have a mixture of religion and worldviews to study which demonstrates the place religion has within society. 
  • Students are encouraged to use scripture/scholarship to help understand key religious/non-religious values and there is a focus on divergent views throughout. 
  • Religious knowledge is extensive and so it would prove difficult and superficial to try to incorporate it all within the scope of 3 years, however what we have selected we feel helps students to understand their community, their peers and the world around them better.

Year 7

Unfortunately, RE is taught to varying standards at the primary level and so we need to determine a foundational knowledge before building on this throughout the themes. Following their Philosophy unit, students recap where, how and why some of the major world religions were established and how they are interconnected. Their key values/beliefs formed from their ancestral history or founder. In addition, they look at the trajectory of religion in the future and its place within society. Following this, students investigate how those religions worship, where they would visit for pilgrimage and how this links with the founding factors of religions; starting to build the blocks of religious knowledge. To finish the year, students investigate alternative worldviews such as Humanism and Bahai as a way to compare and analyse their place within our world alongside the major world religions.

Year 8

Building on Year 7 knowledge, students start to study religious and non-religious festivals for comparison, followed by rites of passage. This is continuing to develop the link between religious beliefs and religious acts that form part of religious life. 

Now students have an understanding of beliefs and religious life, we apply that to non-religious issues to show the connections between religion and the global community. Students student global issues, with the basis formed on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Lessons are based on inquiry’s about major global issues such as poverty, war and the environment and consider how these impact their lives and the roles they play as global citizens. Students look at these issues through the lens of key religious teachings to help interpret religious responsibilities and values. This leads to looking at how these issues have led key religious historical figures to social action, both historic and in the 21st century. 

Following this, students study how religion within religious groups can vary. For instance, the study of orthodox and reform Jews, look at Hindu Sadhus compared to Hinduism being a lifestyle and the role of the Bikkhus and Sangha in Buddhism. This should help alleviate misconceptions that all religious people live a specific religious life and to highlight variation.

Year 9

The introduction of ethical theories in Year 9 is due to the complex nature of the ethical dilemmas that we use to support understanding of these theories ie. abortion, euthanasia, IVF. Students need to have a scholarly mind and have developed good skills in producing reasoned balanced arguments to be able to apply themselves to the ethical unit effectively. This is in preparation for their ethical studies in their core/GCSE lessons at KS4. 

Students also complete an in-depth study into Christian and Muslim beliefs. This involves building on their previous knowledge of the beginnings of these religions and why there are divergent groups. They then study in detail the key beliefs, from divergent perspectives, in preparation for applying these beliefs and values to controversial issues such as war, contraception, divorce etc in KS4.

Key Stage 4

We aim to ensure that all students are taught…

 Pearson GCSE History

KS4 Curriculum Intent:

The fundamental principles and concepts that students need to acquire in order to progress successfully through the curriculum in History:

  • Students need a good knowledge of key events across a broad period of time.
  • Students need to know how to create balanced and reasoned arguments and come to substantiated judgments.
  • Students need to be able to analyse sources, reaching a decision about its utility and value.
  • Students need good communication skills to be able to share their knowledge and ideas, both verbally and written.

We start off with Medicine Through Time. Skills taught in Year 9 topics are developed to a higher standard in this topic. They will already have the skills embedded and by teaching Medicine Through Time we are able to develop and grow them to a much higher standard in preparation for their assessments.
In KS3 they have covered a broad range of content and as this is a thematic study of 800 years, it links brilliantly with topics they already know, such as the Black Death and changes in medical understanding and knowledge.

Overview of the KS4 History Curriculum:

KnowledgeAttributes/CharacterSkillsExperiences
Year 10Medicine Through Time
Weimar and Nazi Germany
Organisation
Resilience
Responsibility
Communication
Understanding change and continuity over time
Coming to balanced judgements
Making inferences
Analysing sources
Visits to medical museums
Virtual tours
Year 11Early Elizabethan England
The British Sector of the Western Front
Organisation
Resilience
Responsibility
Communication
Understand consequences of events
Understand narrative events and chronology
Source analysis
Virtual Tours

Year 10

The order of topics in Year 10 allows students to develop existing skills they have covered in KS3 as well as start to learn new ones to prepare them for upcoming topics. In medicine, we will refine their essay writing skills, develop their ability to make a judgement and touch upon source analysis.

The content links up well with topics they cover in science (modern medical developments such as DNA) as well as building on KS3 knowledge such as the Black Death. With this topic they cover a large period of time, allowing them to understand the importance of change and continuity over time.

Students then move on to Weimar and Nazi Germany. We don’t teach this topic first, as some of the concepts around politics and different ideals can be difficult to grasp. By leaving it to the end of Year 10, students have developed their skills and knowledge further and are able to delve into 1930’s European politics.  This topic really helps them with their source analysis skills and creating inferences from sources, which is something that sets them in a good position for Year 11.

Year 11

In Year 11 students start with Early Elizabethan England. This timeframe overlaps nicely with the Medicine topic, so links can be made back to Year 10, helping students understand the context of what they are now learning. The skills they cover are similar to ones they will have done in both Year 9 and Year 10 so this really helps refine them to a very high level before their assessments.

The content they cover will help students get a really strong understanding of how Britain and its Empire began, looking at changes in the world, in travel, in naval dominance and in religion and politics. We finish Year 11 by going back to Medicine and looking at the medicine on the British Sector of the Western Front in WW1. This move back to medicine really helps students retrieve their prior knowledge, as well as learning new content, continuing with the theme of change and continuity over time. This paper is all source work, so following on from Weimar and Nazi Germany the students will have a strong understanding of how to work with sources and how to analyse them. This will also help reinforce their skills for the German paper.

What key steps will be taken to ensure that students gain a broad and balanced knowledge of History?

There is a logical approach to what we teach and the way we teach it, that ensures both skills and content are developed over a period of time, and what they are learning is constantly supported by, and building on, something they have already studied.

We choose a variety of topics that allow for a broad stretch of history to be taught, giving students a wide understanding of the world around them and what has shaped it, as well as making topics as relatable as possible to their experiences and their lives. We ensure that topics are related to understandable and real-world experiences to help students grasp new and difficult concepts, and where possible, we ensure trips, visits, virtual tours or other forms of media are used to help bring the subject to life for our students.

 Pearson GCSE Geography

KS4 Curriculum Intent:

The fundamental principles and concepts that students need to acquire in order to progress successfully through the curriculum in Geography:

  • Adaptation and mitigation
  • Sustainability
  • Climate Change
  • Geopolitical relationships
  • Globalisation and the Global Shift
  • Interdependence
  • Development

The GCSE curriculum has been mapped to ensure a balance between human and physical topics in KS4, this was deemed appropriate as some of the physical topics are more complex and often are clearer to the students when synoptically taught after/before a human topic. The learning is also chunked to ensure that key skills are introduced to the students slowly but effectively and in a manner that pairs well with the curriculum. Although paper 3 comprehension skills are taught from Year 7, there is a distinct focus on this in Year 10 with students being introduced to the justify command word. Similarly, Year 11 focuses particularly on paper 2 skills but retrieves Year 9 and Year 10 content to apply this to the topics taught.

Year 10 begins with Consuming Energy Resources as it is a great bridge between Year 9 and Year 10 geography. Energy draws on key concepts in geography including adaptation, mitigation and futures, all of which were developed in Year 9. This topic also requires a deep understanding of climate change, which is a key focus of Year 9, and sustainability which is the key concept studied in Year 8. The students are also introduced to the key components of paper 3 here.

Overview of the KS4 Geography Curriculum:

KnowledgeAttributes/CharacterSkillsExperiences
Year 10• Consuming Energy Resources
• Development Dynamics
• People and the Biosphere
• Forests Under Threat
• Global citizens
• Respect
• Empathy
• Ambition
• British values (democracy
• Development indicators
• Analysing climate trends
• Population pyramids
• Source analysis
• Assessing opinions
• Justifying choices
• ‘The Carbon Diaries’ by Saci Lloyd
• Natural History Museum Visit
• Urban Investigation
• Local study of Handsworth
Year 11• UK Human Landscapes
• UK Physical Landscapes
• Geographical Investigations
• Independence
• Leadership
• Respect
• Responsibility
• Stewardship
• Developing locational knowledge
• River cross-sections
• Field sketches
• Data presentation and analysis
• Source analysis
• Writing conclusions and evaluations
• Carding Mill Valley Rivers Investigation
• ‘There is no Planet B’ by Mike Berners-Lee

Year 10

The majority of Year 10 focuses on the key themes found in paper 3. Paper 3 is a synoptic, comprehension paper that requires students to have a good understanding of energy, the biosphere and forests under threat. Therefore, Year 10 begins with an introduction to the key themes and key skills required for paper 3. This includes analysing graphs, text, maps and assessing opinions. Following on from Consuming Energy Resources, students study the key components of People and the Biosphere and Forests Under Threat. These topics are taught conceptually in Year 10 as there are key themes that correlate within them (interdependence, climate, threats, management). Lastly in Year 10, students study the topic of Development. Here, students build on their knowledge of developing, emerging and developed countries introduced in Year 9. They develop their skills of using development indicators to measure global development and explain the causes of uneven development (using their knowledge of energy and climate change). India is used as the case study country where students apply their knowledge of key economic trends, population trends, geopolitics and opportunities/challenges.

Year 11

The focus of Year 11 is on the UK. Here, students draw on their knowledge of all GCSE topics to investigate the UK’s landscapes and their futures. UK Physical Landscapes begins with an investigation of the UK’s climate and biomes, all of which were introduced in Year 9/10. Students then study the key processes and landforms associated with rivers and coasts, a theme that is introduced in Year 8, but studied deeper in Year 11. Alongside this, students will complete their physical geography investigation and a river study, applying their knowledge learnt in the classroom to an independent investigation.  The next topic students will study is UK Human Landscapes. This topic is taught very similarly to the UK Physical Landscapes topic, drawing on knowledge from all human topics studied across the GCSE and culminating with a human geography investigation where students investigate urban deprivation across Birmingham.

Religion and Ethics

KS4 Curriculum Intent:

Students studying core RE at Holyhead will be given the opportunity to develop knowledge and understanding of religions and non-religious beliefs through their teachings and sources of wisdom. Holyhead RE students are taught the diversity within religion and the influence religion has on individuals, communities and beyond; in topics such as war, family and punishment. Students should use this knowledge to construct reasoned, balanced arguments that draw upon the breadth and depth of their knowledge learnt within the classroom and from factors within society. Through this students should reflect on their own beliefs and values and consider their role within society and prepare for adult life in a pluralistic society and global community.

Overview of the KS4 Curriculum:

KnowledgeAttributes / CharacterSkillsExperiences
Year 10:
Year 11:

The fundamental principles and concepts that students need to acquire in order to progress successfully through Religious Studies:

  • Students need to have a strong foundational knowledge about the beliefs within Islam and Christianity and the sources from which these beliefs stem
  • Students need to know key values within divergent religious groups e.g. Catholic, Shia
  • Students need to know about the difference between Humanism and atheism
  • Students need to be aware of ethical theories e.g deontology, utilitarianism to be able to apply these to ethical issues raised within the schemes
  • Students need to understand how to evaluate and construct a successful argument leading to a fully justified conclusion
  • Students need to be able to use scripture to support religious views and interpret meaning to make it applicable.

KS3 schemes have meant that students should have good knowledge of ethical theories, Christian and Muslim beliefs. The first unit call upon this knowledge to apply to issues such as the creation, environment, life after death, abortion and euthanasia. All of which have been taught within KS3 and so should be continuing to develop their knowledge through effective interleaving.

Year 10

The order of topics within Year 10 should allow for students to continue to build their KS3 knowledge with use of ethical issues which relates learning to the global society. Students have the chance to discuss Christian and Muslim beliefs and how they apply to crime, creation, attitudes to punishment, life after death etc. This also enables students to develop their non-religious knowledge and ethical theories with issues raised such as abortion, euthanasia, death penalty and torture. 

Students continue to develop their abilities as structuring arguments with a significant focus on ethics and non-religious approaches. This should encourage students to reflect on their own beliefs and values. 

In addition, students study how beliefs affect the lives of Christians and Muslims. Demonstrating the impact that beliefs have, including the divergent ways in which religious life is served.

Year 11

Students study marriage and family which enables access to religious and non-religious views on marriage, divorce, contraception and gender equality. Learning continues to build on topics studied in KS3 and develop skills needed to be successful in core RE and beyond. 

Continuing on with the application of beliefs and ethical theories to real-world issues, students study peace and conflict which includes the application of Just War, use of nuclear weapons and the use of violence or terrorism within society. Again students apply ethical theories, non-religious attitudes and religious teachings to reach evaluated, justified decisions that reflect their own beliefs and values.

  • Thematic approaches that require religious, non-religious and ethical approaches
  • Schemes are split into religious acts and ethical themes that provide a variety of divergent views
  • Regular religious themes of sanctify of life, stewardship and the nature of God run throughout many of these schemes
  • Use of real life situations to aid application 
  • Retention of scripture to support teachings and beliefs
  • Students build on their prior KS3 knowledge in incremental steps
GCSE (9-1) History Date: Jun 30, 2021
GCSE (9-1) Geography Date: Jun 30, 2021
GCSE (9-1) Religious Studies Date: Jun 30, 2021

Key Stage 5

We aim to ensure that all students are taught…

Pearson GCE History

KS5 Curriculum Intent:

The fundamental principles and concepts that students need to acquire in order to progress successfully through History:

There are a number of fundamental concepts that students need to acquire in order to progress successfully through A-level History, some of which are generic to the study of history and others that are specific to the context of the topics taught in Years 12 and 13. 

Students must have a clear grasp of how to set and apply criteria to be able to make and support evaluated judgements at A-level, whilst they must also be able to analyse and evaluate contemporary sources in terms of messaging, purpose, tone and objectivity whilst considering evaluation points such as authorship, accuracy, objectivity and completeness in the light of strong knowledge of the historical context.

In relation to specific topics, students must have grasped economic terminologies such as inflation, interest rates, stagflation, Keynesianism and supply-side economics to be able to analyse and evaluate the significance and success of government actions in both Paper 1 and Paper 2 topics.

Likewise, an understanding of the context of Britain’s class system and society in 1918 is fundamental to develop an understanding of change and continuity across the period in Paper 1, with specific factors for change such as the impact of the Second World War also being fundamental to an understanding of the major social and political changes brought about in the post-war period, most specifically in preparation for the Non-Examined Assessment coursework assignment on the impact of Clement Attlee’s Labour Government from 1945-51.

In Paper 2, an understanding of the context of American society in 1955 in relation to race, gender and the role of the individual is fundamental to being able to understand the social and political changes which unfolded up to 1992. Similarly, students need to build an understanding of the American political system, in particular, the role and function of the Executive Branch (the President,) the Legislative Branch (Congress) and the Judicial Branch (Supreme Court) within the constitution to be able to grasp key events throughout the topic including rights-based cases and the policies of Presidents.  In Paper 3, an understanding of military terminologies such as guerrilla warfare, siege warfare, infantry, cavalry and artillery are fundamental to grasp an understanding of the specific tactics used by various commanders in wars across the period. An understanding of the concept of turning points is also fundamental to grasping the nature and significance of change over time, which is fundamental to the study of the Sections in Breadth topics.

We have chosen to start with the USA, 1955-1992 in Year 12, partly because of syllabus requirements, but largely because this topic enables us to consolidate the source analysis skills that students have been working on in their GCSE Paper 3 topic of Germany 1918-39 in Year 11 as it covers both AO1 and AO2. Whilst the A-level topics are chosen deliberately have no direct links to prior knowledge taught from KS3-4, for the purpose of ensuring greater breadth in the curriculum over 7 years, we have chosen to start with the USA topic because it begins with content that resonates with our students both through relevance to their context in looking at issues such as youth culture, individual and minority group rights, but also through the medium of major historical figures of the 20th century such as JFK, Martin Luther King Jr and Malcolm X, of whom our students will have more prior knowledge of, helping to ensure that new knowledge can be interleaved and attached to existing general knowledge. We have also taken the decision not to start with Paper 1 on Britain initially because the first Theme is on political and economical change, concepts which we feel students will have a greater understanding of following the first phase of the USA topic, rather than beginning the A-level with relatively alien concepts such as economic policy and industrial relations.

Overview of the KS5 Curriculum:

Knowledge Attributes/Character Skills Experiences
Year 12The key concepts which underpin the knowledge at A level are:
• Change and continuity
• Causation
• Consequence
• Similarity and difference
• Historical significance

Paper 1: Britain Transformed
• Political and economic change, 1918-79
• The creation of the Welfare State, 1918-79
• Society in transition: Class, gender and race, 1918-79
• Changing living standards and factors for improvement, 1918-79
• Thatcherism and its impact on Britain, 1979-97

Paper 2: USA, 1955-92
• Affluence and conformity, 1955-63; suburbanisation and consumerism
• Protest and reaction, 1963-72; counterculture & student protest v the ‘Silent Majority’
• Social and Political Change, 1973-80; Watergate and political disillusionment
• Republican Dominance, 1981-1992; Social Conservatism v Liberal values
• Black civil rights and campaigns for equality, 1955-1992
• The women’s rights movement and its impact, 1963-1992
• Gay rights, 1963-1992
• Hispanic and Native American rights, 1963-1992

Key Presidents and their programmes:
• John F. Kennedy, 1961-63
• Lyndon Johnson, 1963-69
• Richard Nixon, 1969-74
• Jimmy Carter, 1977-81
• Ronald Reagan, 1981-89
• Organisation – meeting deadlines and ensuring that all lesson preparation work has been completed to facilitate higher levels of involvement in lessons
• Reflective thinking – students are constantly prompted to reflect on their knowledge and understanding through PLCs and to organise their independent learning accordingly
• Resilience – developing high-level source analysis skills through practice
• Communication – articulating thoughts both through extended writing and through oracy in lessons
• Empathy – building greater understanding for the implications of, and reasons for government policy through community and personal perspectives
• Analysing and evaluating change and continuity over time
• Analysing and evaluating historical significance
• Analysing causal factors and consequences of major decisions and events
• Setting and deploying criteria to reach justified and evaluated judgements
• Making inferences
• Analysing and evaluating contemporary sources
• Using source criteria to assess the value and utility of source material, both individually and in combination
• Analysing historical interpretations, in relation to the historical context
• Applying detailed and accurate contextual knowledge to support evaluation of interpretations
• Regular exposure to wider reading materials including BBC History Extra articles
• Documentary series used to extend learning beyond the classroom and to provide enhanced knowledge and understanding of the historical context in both Paper 1 and Paper 2
Year 13The key concepts which underpin the knowledge at A level are:
• Change and continuity
• Causation
• Consequence
• Similarity and difference
• Historical significance

Paper 3: British Experience of Warfare, 1793-1918
• The French Wars, 1793-1815 including Nelson and Wellington
• The Crimean War, 1854-56
• The Boer War, 1899-1902
• Trench warfare during WWI, 1914-1918
• The development of aerial warfare in WWI, 1914-1918
• Changes in the military, 1793-1918
• Changes in the role of the population, 1793-1918
• Organisation – meeting deadlines and ensuring that all lesson preparation work has been completed to facilitate higher levels of involvement in lessons
• Reflective thinking – students are constantly prompted to reflect on their knowledge and understanding through PLCs and to organise their independent learning accordingly
• Resilience – developing high-level source analysis skills through practice
• Communication – articulating thoughts both through extended writing and through oracy in lessons
• Empathy – building greater understanding for the implications of, and reasons for the actions of commanders through the perspectives of different individuals
• Analysing and evaluating change and continuity over time
• Analysing and evaluating historical significance
• Analysing causal factors and consequences of major decisions and events
• Setting and deploying criteria to reach justified and evaluated judgements
• Making inferences
• Analysing and evaluating contemporary sources
• Using source criteria to assess the value and utility of source material in relation to different historical enquiries
• Regular exposure to wider reading materials including BBC History Extra articles
• Documentary series used to extend learning beyond the classroom and to provide enhanced knowledge and understanding of the historical context in all of the conflicts covered in Paper 3
• Opportunities for study visits including the National Army Museum and potential visits to the Western Front battlefields

At A-level, we seek to build on the skills that students have developed through the curriculum in KS3&4, focusing on key concepts such as change and continuity, causation and consequence, and historical significance, whilst broadening our students’ cultural experiences through the choice of topics and content. The courses provide a range of perspectives within them which combine to ensure there is balanced knowledge of concepts such as conservatism, liberalism, radicalism, whilst also exposing students to greater awareness of the connections between popular culture and political and social developments of the time.

Year 12

We begin the A-level course in the first half-term by looking at Paper 2 on America between 1955 and 1972 covering the key social and political developments of the period with detailed studies on the civil rights movements centred around the rights of black Americans, women and homosexuals. We make clear links to the rights of the groups in modern society and look to focus on the social dynamics of the period in comparison to those of modern Britain and America applying the knowledge of the course to the world we live in today. These themes are returned to in the Spring term when we look at change and continuity from 1973-1992, along with the growth of social conservatism in the face of these changes.

We also look to analyse the economic and social policies of five prominent Presidents, Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Carter and Reagan enabling students to have a stronger grasp of the American political system which can be compared and contrasted with the British system in Paper 1, as well as developing an enhanced understanding of the differing political-ideological positions of liberals and conservatives which can also be directly linked to the modern American and British political systems. We make a concerted effort to address issues of race, gender inequality and discrimination in all its forms, and look to analyse the culture of ‘hidden’ history with a specific example being the difference in the reporting and historical portrayal of the Kent State and Jackson State shootings in May 1970, linking this back to the modern-day and the ‘Black Lives Matter’ movement. 

We have made a conscious decision to pause the Paper 2 topic in 1972 to move to Paper 1, with a mind to strengthen memory connections by returning to Paper 2 in the spring term, building in a bespoke interleaving week into the curriculum before returning to focus on the period from 1973-1992. This process also applies to the teaching of Paper 1 on Britain with the first half of the topic taught separately from the second half of the topic, encouraging students to link back regularly to content taught in the Autumn term.

We begin the Paper 1 topic on Britain in the second half-term in Autumn covering the key themes of political, economic and social developments of the period with detailed studies on the changing political and economic environment from 1918-1979 and the creation and maintenance of the modern welfare state in the same period. We make clear links to themes in modern society such as the challenges facing the NHS and the education sector and look to focus on the social dynamics of the period in comparison to those of modern Britain and America applying the knowledge of the course to the world we live in today. 

We also look to analyse the economic and social policies of the governments from Lloyd-George to Thatcher, enabling students to have a stronger grasp of the British political system which can be compared and contrasted with the American system in Paper 2, as well as developing an enhanced understanding of the differing political-ideological positions of the major parties, both in the years of the post-war consensus and the polarisation during the Thatcher years which can also be directly linked to the modern American and British political systems. 

We make a concerted effort to address issues of social class, race and immigration, gender inequality and discrimination in all its forms in the Spring term as we move to focus on social and cultural change, building an understanding of both the legislation passed and the attitudes that faced those who challenged the existing ‘norms’ of British society at the start of the period, either by their presence or their campaigns. In the fourth Theme covered, we look to investigate changes in the quality of life of ordinary Britons through the 20th century, with a focus on living standards and the factors influencing these, cultural change with the advent of television and the impact of popular music on lifestyles and finally the changing nature of leisure through car ownership and holidays, helping students to understand the importance of legislation such as the Holidays with Pay Act in shaping the rights of working-class families to experience residential holidays, not only from the 1930s, but also to the modern-day. 

The thematic structure of the Britain Transformed course is such that it deliberately promotes interleaving between topics as opposed to a purely chronological approach, enabling students to make links, not only within the course itself, but also with the parallel exam topic on America where similar themes are covered. 

This is also seen with the final theme of the course which is a specific focus on historical interpretations of the impact of Margaret Thatcher’s governments from 1979-1990 on British society during and after her time in office. The Thatcher governments radically transformed Britain, for better or worse depending on your historical and political perspectives (which is the purpose of this topic), and the deliberate approach to break the years of consensus allows students to connect back to policies covered in the autumn term, whilst her divisive style links back to issues covered in Theme 3 such as social conservatism in the face of an increasingly liberal society. The direct comparisons not only in policymaking and ideology but also leadership style with her contemporary and ally, Ronald Reagan, also provides clear opportunities for interleaving across papers.  We choose to begin the taught element of the Coursework unit in the summer term of Year 12 with the view to encouraging the independent work required through the summer holidays and into the first term of Year 13. The choice of topic is deliberate, with the significance of Attlee’s post-war Labour Government being fundamental to consolidating student understanding of many of the major changes in British society from 1945 onwards covered already in Paper 1, and the timing of this taught section of the coursework comes directly after the historical interpretations section of Paper 1 on Margaret Thatcher, meaning that students will be building their skills of analysing and evaluating historical interpretations. 

Year 13

The Year 13 phase of the course seeks to build on the skills developed in Year 12 through the medium of the Paper 3 topic, The British Experience of Warfare, 1793-1918. Source analysis skills from Paper 2 are a key feature of the work in Paper 3, with the adaptation of analysing and evaluating the utility of single contemporary sources in the light of different enquiries as opposed to using sources in combination, which promotes deeper analysis. The course itself is broken into two sections, Sections in Depth and Sections in Breadth.

Sections in Depth focuses on in-depth studies of causes, events and consequences connected to the four main conflicts Britain was involved in over the period (French Wars, Crimean War, 2nd Boer War and WWI). These are taught in chronological order and deliberate interleaving between the conflicts is a key feature of lesson planning to ensure comparisons between commanders and the historical context of conflicts is promoted with students to help build memory over a knowledge heavy topic. 

Sections in Breadth covers the changing approach of the military towards warfare and the changing role of the British people over the whole period. The first breadth section looks at army and navy reforms in the round, both in terms of the causal factors for them and their relative significance through analysis and evaluation of the impact on the military. The second breadth section looks at the increased significance of the public’s contribution to the war effort, ranging from enterprising developers of weaponry to the impact of ‘Total War’ on society in World War I.  The decision to focus on Sections in Depth-first is to build a strong contextual base before moving to the coverage in breadth, enabling students to gain familiarity and confidence with military terminology and to already have thought across wars to build an understanding of change over time.

Pearson GCE Geography

KS5 Curriculum Intent:

The fundamental principles and concepts that students need to acquire in order to progress successfully through Geography:

  • Global governance
  • Place and space
  • Continuity and change
  • Causality
  • Sustainability 
  • Feedback loops
  • Uncertain futures
  • Players and decisions

Knowledge of global affairs, geopolitical relationships, past, present and future global trends, and environmental issues caused by humans is vital for students to access the A-Level course. For this reason, Year 12 starts with the topic of globalisation. Students study globalisation at KS3 and KS4 but in a much broader manner, more an overview than the in-depth focus at A level. Globalisation in Year 12 provides a fantastic basis for A level as it introduces the students to the key players, futures and decisions studied throughout the course. 

Overview of the KS5 Curriculum:

KnowledgeAttributes/CharacterSkillsExperiences
Year 12• Globalisation
• Water Cycle
• Superpowers
• Tectonic Hazards
• Health, Human Rights and Intervention
• Global citizenship
• Responsibility
• Respect
• Empathy/Compassion
• Leadership
• Map reading
• Data analysis
• Resource analysis
• Gini coefficient
• Spearman’s rank
• Cost-benefit analysis
• University of Birmingham masterclasses
• Residential to Swanage Bay
• ‘The Almighty Dollar’ by Dharshini David
• ‘Factfulness’ by Hans Rosling
Year 13• Carbon Cycle
• Regeneration
• Coastal Processes and Landscapes
• Global citizenship
• Local stewardship
• Respect
• Responsibility
• Initiative
• Communication
• Map reading
• Creating synoptic links
• Analysing past, present and future trends
• Imagery analysis
• Source analysis
• Carding Mill Valley Rivers Investigation
• ‘There is no Planet B’ by Mike Berners-Lee

Year 12

Year 12 begins with the study of globalisation in which students develop their understanding of the key concepts needed to access A-level Geography: players, decisions and futures. Students investigate key international organisations, trade blocs and superpowers to explain the causes, impacts and futures of globalisation. Students then cover the topic of water, this is a new topic taught at KS3 and so current A-level students have not studied water as a topic in geography. In this topic, students will draw on their knowledge of the key players and apply these to the future of water on earth. Students will analyse maps, graphs and data sets to explain the distribution and causes of water insecurity and how this can be managed. Students will be introduced to the notion of conflict between players, which is a great bridge to their next topic, Superpowers which draws heavily on knowledge from the topics on globalisation and water. It is also a new topic that students have not experienced before A-level. They continue to draw on the ideas of players and futures, particularly with the focus on futures being uncertain. Hazard is a topic that is taught in great detail in KS4 and so the hazards topic taught in Year 12 focuses largely on the management of hazards and multiple-hazard zones, linking globalisation, superpowers and water to the hazards topic synoptically. Year 12 finishes with a study of Health, Human Rights and Interventions. This topic requires an understanding of the current situation of the world in terms of geopolitics, conflicts and hazards, all of which are built on across Year 12. This topic also introduces key skills which are required for Year 13 including the analyse of command words and skills such as spearman’s rank. 

Year 13

Year 13 begins with the Carbon Cycle and Energy Security topic. This is a fantastic way to start Year 13 as it draws heavily on students’ prior knowledge of climate change, energy sources and impacts of non-renewable energy. However, it continues to build on the key concepts required of A-level students which are players, decisions and futures. Many of the players introduced to the students in Year 12 are included in this topic, with new players being introduced (OPEC) and their opinions compared with that of the players already familiar to the students. The Carbon Cycle and Energy Insecurity topic is also assessed synoptically in paper 1, requiring students to draw links with the Water Cycle and Water Insecurity topic. Students compare the threats to the carbon and water cycles and retrieve their knowledge and skills from Year 12. The next topic Year 13 students study is Regenerating Places. This is often deemed the most complex A-level topic, introducing holistic themes such as place and space. Students study their local and far away places and explain the processes shaping these places. The theme of shaping places is introduced in Year 7 and then built on in Year 11 and so students should have a good understanding of why places are the way they are. Often, our students choose to write their NEAs with a regeneration focus and so this topic also allows them to improve their NEA write up by applying their knowledge of key concepts and themes introduced. The last topic students study is Coastal Processes and Landscapes. Students have a very good base knowledge of this topic from year 8 and Year 11, but the A-level coasts topic takes a slightly different approach and investigates global coastlines and the threats facing coastal management, futures and decisions. Students apply this knowledge to their coastal visit to Swanage Bay. The coasts topic also allows students to draw on their knowledge of Globalisation/Superpowers (players) and Water/Carbon (futures). 

The KS5 curriculum is mapped to ensure a combination of familiar and unfamiliar topics, drawing on knowledge from KS4 and introducing brand new topics. As always, there is a balance between human and physical topics and a balance between paper 1 and paper 2 topics across year 12 and Year 13. The key concepts taught across the curriculum provide a broad and balanced knowledge that students will need to study geography at university. 

Pearson GCE Religious Studies (Philosophy & Ethics)

KS5 Curriculum Intent:

Students studying A-level Religious Studies at Holyhead will follow modules in Philosophy, Ethics and Islam.  The course has been selected to build upon skills and knowledge acquired at KS4. The specification facilitates enquiry into and develops insightful evaluations of, ultimate questions about the purposes and commitments of human life, especially as expressed in philosophy, ethics and religion.  Students will use ideas from a range of approaches to the study of philosophy, ethics and religions in order to research and present a wide range of well-informed and reasonable arguments, which engage profoundly with moral, religious and spiritual issues. This will give transferable skills for higher education as well as enabling students to reflect on their own view

KnowledgeAttributes / CharacterSkills Experiences
– Philosophical arguments about the existence of God
– Religious Experience
– The problem of Evil & Suffering
– Environment 
– Equality
– Ethical theories: 
– Sexual ethics
– War and peace
– Key beliefs, values, teachings & practices  of Islam
– SMSC
– Responsibility
– Respect
– Communication
– Empathy
– Explore and assess religious, philosophical and ethical beliefs and practices
– Interpretation of scripture
– Application of ethical theories
– Clarification of scholarly articles
– Analysis and evaluation of diverse views
– Formulate judgements in the light of these views
– Essay writing course
– Sixth form conference at Newman University
– Religious Language
– Life After Death
– Religion & Science debates 
– Meta-ethics
– Religion & Morality
– Deontology
– Virtue Ethics
– Medical Ethics
– Social & Historical Developments in Islam
– Works of scholars on Jihad
– Challenges to Islam from multi-faith / secular society
– Gender roles in Islam
– SMSC
– Responsibility
– Respect
– Communication
– Empathy
– Explore and assess religious, philosophical and ethical beliefs and practices
– Interpretation of scripture
– Application of ethical theories
– Clarification of scholarly articles
– Analysis and evaluation of diverse views
– Formulate judgements in the light of these views
• Regeneration study of Brindley Place
• ‘Prisoners of Geography’ by Tim Marshall
• University of Birmingham masterclasses
• Use of GIS and VR headsets

The fundamental principles and concepts that students need to acquire in order to progress successfully through Religious Studies:

  • Students need to grasp philosophical ideas and concepts relating to the big questions studied
  • Students need to be proficient in applying a variety of ethical theories to a variety of moral dilemmas
  • Students need to have a strong foundational knowledge about the beliefs and practices within Islam and the sources from which these beliefs stem
  • Students need to be aware of divergent views even within a single tradition e.g. Catholic, Quaker
  • Students need to demonstrate that they can clarify arguments from complex texts and analyse ideas contained within such texts
  • Students should be able to assess and evaluate arguments and ideas and from this demonstrate appraisal of different arguments and make judgement upon them
  • Students need to be able to use scholarly views to support philosophical, ethical and religious arguments.

Students begin with Philosophy Unit 1 and Ethics Unit 2. Ideas about the existence of God are not part of our GCSE course but are introduced in KS3 so students should have some basis. Ethics Unit 2 covers three Ethical Theories which are introduced at the start of Year 9 and are revisited throughout KS4.   As such this revisits prior knowledge. These topics are seen as foundational for further aspects of the course. They are not the easiest of topics nor are they the most challenging, as such they serve to set a bar for the course.

Although there is some familiarity within the early topics in terms of prior knowledge, there is a deliberate attempt to start KS5 in a fresh manner and in a way that sets the bar. GCSE knowledge is built upon in a staggered manner so it’s not just a case of the start of KS5 looking like a revisit of KS4, whilst at the same time continually weaving in topics that should be familiar from KS4. Time is spent in Year 12 building exam skills with the initial attention being given to Explore and Assess questions before introducing students to the more challenging clarify, analyse and evaluate questions. The study of Islam, Philosophy and Ethics in itself provides a broad and balanced curriculum that will serve students wanting to continue Theology or Philosophy in higher education as well as giving a range of skills that are transferable to whatever discipline they may go onto study.

Year 12

Philosophy starts as it means to go on with a discussion of big questions. Ideas about God, as mentioned, give some link to prior knowledge.  Religious Experience and the problem of suffering do build more upon KS4 content. The idea of the introductory lesson to Ethics is to acquaint students with what the topic of Ethics is, the keywords involved in its discussion and to introduce ways that people make moral decisions via early familiarisation with Ethical Theories. Such theories at this point will be broadly divided into Deontological and Teleological – those that place stress upon actions, and those that rather emphasise outcomes. This then comfortably leads onto Unit 2 which is the Study of 3 Ethical Theories. I feel that this approach gives students a grounding in approaching Ethics before going on to apply the ideas to more practical consideration as are required in Units 1 and 3.  However, once the standard has been set through Philosophy Unit 1 and Ethics Unit 2, students study Islam Unit 1 which are key beliefs largely covered at GCSE. The topics in Islam are followed in order as there is a definite progression of thought throughout the course where one topic links to and builds upon another.

Year 13

Our topics, with the exception of Ethics Unit 2 are largely followed in order within the 3 strands as the ideas are built upon within the units. Year 13 topics contain more anthology texts with the more challenging of those being tackled in Year 13. Year 12 topics are also continually revisited both for retrieval purposes and because with the addition of Year 13 topics, there is more scope with which to evaluate themes covered in Year 12.

A-Level History Date: Jun 30, 2021
A-Level Geography Date: Jun 30, 2021
A-Level Religious Studies Date: Jun 30, 2021