History at Loreto College is an academic subject rich in powerful knowledge of global, national and local events which have shaped the political, social and cultural world around us. The pursuit of History at Loreto College broadens our students’ understanding of the complexity of people’s lives, the process of change over time and its links to modern society as well as unravelling the diversity within society and the relationships between different groups. We believe that powerful knowledge of History ensures that students are given the opportunity to become more confident, creative, resilient and critical thinkers. Through the critical evaluation of contemporary sources and historians’ interpretations, students will be given the opportunity to pose their own questions about History and formulate their own opinions. Students will be equipped with second-order historical concepts; these will not only allow them to explain, analyse and understand the past, but will also allow them to develop transferable skills, helping them to become well-rounded individuals.

The curriculum in Year 7 and 8 is mainly Anglocentric, focusing upon developing students’ understanding of the development of Britain and how power changed in Britain over the course of the past thousand years. At the same time, there is a close focus on how developments and changes in other cultures had a direct effect on developments in Britain. They will gain insight into the forces that motivated and influenced society since the Middle Ages and how specific “turning points” and “triggers” led to gradual or sudden change. A study of Islamic civilisation/the Crusades and the British Empire develops pupils’ understanding further in the need for mutual respect and tolerance for different faiths and cultures. Our study of the British Empire and industrialisation takes into account the interconnection between the Empire, the slave trade and the Industrial Revolution. The Year 9 curriculum has a greater focus on international History and how much the conflicts and upheavals of the twentieth century affected both modern Britain and the modern world. We end Key Stage 3 with an overview study of the impact of immigration to Britain during the past millennium. Throughout Key Stage 3, pupils will develop their understanding through constant use of the second-order historical concepts.

The GCSE course develops students’ understanding of a variety of periods and enhances their skills further in the processes of History; we focus upon a study of the Cold War up to 1972 and a Depth Study of twentieth century USA in order to enhance their understanding of the present day conflicts and issues. A study of changes in medicine and health in Britain since 1000AD develops pupils’ skills in analysing and assessing long-term change and continuity in History, while a further Depth Study of Elizabethan society allows pupils to gain more precise understanding of how English monarchs and the political elite reacted to change and threats at the beginning of the “modern” era.

Post-16, we build on students’ ability to analyse and assess how different European societies in the Early Modern period changed and how rulers and leaders reacted to political and religious change through a study of Stuart Britain 1603-1702, The Reformation in Europe 1500-64 and the Golden Age of Spain 1474-1598.

Themes of PSHE are covered both implicitly and explicitly in the History Curriculum, mainly focusing on the development of our modern political institutions and encouraging pupils to see themselves as future citizens who will continue to uphold the goals of Mary Ward.


Key Stage 3 History

Year 7: Who held power in the Middle Ages? How much did power, beliefs and ordinary lives change in the Middle Ages?


  • KS3: A thematic overview: Power, Beliefs and Ordinary lives
  • What happened during the Middle Ages?

Power in 1066

  • Why were there two invasions of England in 1066? Why did William win the Battle of Hastings?
  • What do the events of 1066 tell us about medieval kingship?
  • To what extent did England change as a result of the Norman Conquest? (North, removal of Anglo-Saxon earls, feudalism, Domesday Book, castles, language, groups affected)

The “people”

  • “Mucky and Miserable” – How far should we agree with this description of peasants’ lives in the Middle Ages? (types of peasants, living conditions, entertainment: was life simply about survival?)


  • Why was the Church so important in the Middle Ages?
  • Fatalism and belief in God, Heaven and Hell
  • The monasteries and monasticism – why would people become monks/nuns?

How and why did power begin to change in the Middle Ages?

  • What is the “government” / Parliament in present day? How are governments decided in present day?
  • Kingship in the Middle Ages: did medieval monarchs have absolute power?
  • Who could potentially challenge medieval monarchs and how (nobility/Church/peasantry)?
  • Why was Henry II whipped by monks at Canterbury?
  • King John and Magna Carta: was 1215 a major turning point in medieval monarch’s power? Why has John been regarded as a “bad” king?
  • Henry III and Parliament: did 1265 mark a major change in power?
  • Why was there a Peasants’ Revolt in 1381(Black Death and its effects/John Ball/poll tax)?
  • How significant was the Hundred Years War in the political development of England?

Summing it up:

  • How did power change in the Middle Ages?
  • Where did real power lie?
  • Which was the most important “turning point” in where power lay in the Middle Ages?

Islamic civilisation and the Crusades

  • What is Islam? What are the main differences and similarities between Islam, Christianity and Judaism?
  • Who was Muhammad? Where and how did Islam begin?
  • Why did Islamic empire expand so rapidly in the century after Muhammad’s death?
  • What were the Crusades? Why did the Crusades take place?
  • What effect did the Crusades have on medieval Europe?

Year 8: How far did Power, Religion and Ordinary lives change in Britain 1485-1900? How did international contacts affect Britain?


  • Change and progress in the Early Modern period (see prescribed lessons)

How much did England change under the Tudors?

  • Was Britain in 1485 similar/different to medieval England?
  • Why have some historians argued that Henry VII was a “great” monarch?

The Renaissance and Reformation will be briefly studied briefly to contextualise the changes that took place in Henry VIII’s reign onwards.

  • The Renaissance: what changed in Europe? Why was it so significant?
  • The Reformation: how and why did religious beliefs change in Europe?
  • Henry VIII and the Reformation: causes and effects
  • Changes in religion: Edward VI
  • Mary I: did she deserve to be called “Bloody Mary”?
  • To what extent did Elizabeth I solve the issue of religion in England?
  • What were the main challenges and threats faced by Elizabeth I? How successfully did she tackle them?

 How much did power and beliefs change during the Stuart period?

  • Overview of Stuart England
  • James I and the Gunpowder Plot
  • Charles I and the causes of civil war by 1642
  • Why was Charles I executed in 1649 and a republic established?
  • Cromwell: hero or villain
  • The restoration of the monarchy
  • James II and the Glorious Revolution
  • Which reign was most significant in early modern England?
  • Summing it up: how much did power change during the Stuart period? How much had power changed since the Middle Ages?

 Did the benefits of the British Empire outweigh the negative aspects?

  • How did Britain become “Great”? What was the British Empire? What benefits did the Empire bring?
  • British rule in India: who benefited?
  • Victorian attitudes towards the Empire
  • Slavery and the slave trade
  • The abolition of the slave trade
  • Interpretations of the British Empire

Industrialisation 1750-1850: did change lead to improvement for everyone?

  • From Domestic System to Factory System
  • Changes in transport
  • Why did industrialisation take place in 1750-1850, and why in Britain first?
  • Did ordinary people benefit from industrialisation?

How much had power moved to the people by 1900?

  • The 1832 Great Reform Act, brief reference to 1867/1884
  • The franchise by 1900: was Britain a democracy?

Year 9: How did international conflict change Britain and the world?


  • How much did the twentieth century world change?

Europe and the First World War

  • Did war break out in Europe in summer 1914 due to “chance” or “choice”?
  • The First World War seen through the lives of ordinary people: a study of 3 men
  • How did the First World War change power in Britain? (Suffragettes, changes in 1918 for men and women, 1928 changes for women)
  • Why have some people thought that the Treaty of Versailles was not “fair”?

Democracies and dictatorships

  • What is Communism?
  • How and why did Russia become the world’s first Communist nation in 1917?
  • What is a dictatorship?
  • Why did so many European countries become dictatorships in the 1920s and 1930s?
  • Why did the Hitler and the Nazis have little support in Germany by 1928, yet took power by 1933?
  • Who can tell us about life in Hitler’s Germany?

Britain and the Second World War

  • Why do some people argue that Britain was partly responsible for causing World War II?
  • How much did life change in wartime Britain?

Nazi Germany and the Holocaust

  • Who can tell us about the Holocaust?
  • Why do some historians disagree about what caused the Holocaust?
  • Memories of the Holocaust

Comparison of significant events in recent history

  •  How was the 1963 Bristol Bus Boycott significant for race relations?
  • How significant was the 1969 Representation of the People Act for ordinary people?

Useful websites:

BBC History KS3
The National Archives

GCSE History

Loreto studentss take the AQA GCSE History syllabus (8145).

AQA | History | GCSE | History

This consists of two exams; there is no coursework or controlled assessment. This is summarised below.

Paper 1: Understanding the Modern World (2 hours)

Section A: Period Study

1D: America, 1920–1973: Opportunity and inequality

  • Part one: American people and the ‘Boom’
  • Part two: Bust – Americans’ experiences of the Depression and New Deal
  • Part three: Post-war America

Section B: Wider world Depth Study

Conflict and tension between East and West, 1945–1972

  • Part one: The origins of the Cold War
  • Part two: The development of the Cold War
  • Part three: The transformation of the Cold War

Paper 2: Shaping the Nation (British History): 2 hours

  • Section A: Thematic study
  • Section B: British Depth study

Section A

2A Britain: Health and the people: c1000 to the present day

  • Part one: Medicine stands still
  • Part two: The beginnings of change
  • Part three: A revolution in medicine
  • Part four: Modern medicine

Section B: British depth studies

Elizabethan England, c1568–1603

  • Part one: Elizabeth’s court and Parliament
  • Part two: Life in Elizabethan times
  • Part three: Troubles at home and abroad
  • Part four: The historic environment of Elizabethan England

GCSE Revision

A comprehensive Loreto College History Revision Guide and Exemplar Answers Booklet are available for all Year 11 students.

Useful websites:

www.johndclare.net (very useful for revision)
The National Archives

A-level History 

Students take the AQA (7042) A Level History. Students sit two exams and a Non-Exam Assessment.

Paper 1:

British History Breadth Study: Stuart Britain and the Crisis of Monarchy, 1603-1702

Part One: Absolutism Challenged: Britain 1603-1649

  • Monarchs and Parliaments, 1603-1629
  • Revolution, 1629-1649

Part Two: Monarchy restored and restrained: Britain 1649-1702

  • From Republic to Restored and Limited Monarchy, 1649-1678
  • The Establishment of Constitutional Monarchy, 1678-1702

Paper 2:

European History Depth Study: The Reformation in Europe, c1500-1564

 Part One: The Origins of the Reformation, c1500-1531

  • The condition of the Church, c1500-1517
  • The Challenge of Luther, 1517-1521
  • The Protestant Challenge, 1521-1531

 Part Two: Reformation Europe, 1531-1564

  • The expansion of the Reformation, 1531-1541
  • The second wave of Protestant reform, 1541-1564
  • The Catholic Reformation, 1531-1564

Component 3:

 Non-Exam Assessment (NEA: up to 4,500 words): A European Society in Change

 The Golden Age of Spain, 1474-1598

  • Students must write a Historical Investigation (essay) based on a development or issue which has been subject to different historical interpretations.
  • The NEA must draw upon an investigation of a range of primary and secondary sources relating to the development or issue, and the differing interpretations that have been placed on this.
  • The development or issue to be investigated must be placed within a context of approximately 100 years.
  • Answers must be no longer than 4,500 words.

A-level Additional Support

Extra tuition and seminar sessions are offered to students applying to read History at Oxbridge or Russell Group universities.

Useful websites:

AQA Exam board materials
www.earlymodernweb.org (useful for understanding wider themes about the Early Modern period, 1500-1800)


  • We offer a range of extra-curricular activities to complement learning in all Key Stages. A History Club is run for Key Stage 3 pupils on Thursdays. Year 7 and 8 visit St Albans cathedral to participate in History Trails on the impact of the Peasants’ Revolt and the Dissolution of the Monasteries on St Albans.

History Trail (Y8)

  • GCSE pupils have the opportunity to visit the Historic Environment site featured in GCSE Paper 2. A Level students gain the opportunity to participate in a Stuart London Trail or a Study Trip to Spain to complement their studies of Stuart Britain and the Golden Age of Spain.
  • Public exam results have been very pleasing: in 2019 Year 13 students achieved 68% A*-B and the Department have attained an average ALPS score of 3 for many years. GCSE pupils attained 54% Grade 9-7 and 87% Grade 9-5, giving the Department an average score ALPS score of 1.5 since the new GCSE has been established.
  • History has continued to be a popular Option subject for GCSE and A-level; many students have gone on to read History at a variety of universities including Oxbridge.
  • The historian Gemma Hollman, author of the book ‘Royal Witches: From Joan of Navarre to Elizabeth Woodville’ (2019) is an ex-Loreto History student.

History & Careers@Loreto

Want to find out more about History work skills, then check out this infographic poster, which can also be found on the Maths corridor.