Skip to content ↓

John Milton Academy Trust

These schools are part of the John Milton Academy Trust. Click on the school's logo to visit their website.

Bacton logoCedars Park logoThe John Milton logoMendlesham logoStowupland logoMulberry logo


Powerful Knowledge

Students will study the following units under the AQA 8145 GCSE History specification:

Paper 1: Understanding the modern world

1A: Period study – America 1840-1895 (studied in the first half of Year 10) focusing on the development of America during a turbulent time of change – expansion of the west & consolidation of the USA, including:

  • The Plains Indians
  • Early Settlers moving West – Mountain Men, Migrants, Mormons & Miners
  • The American Civil War, its causes, effects & consequences
  • Later Settlers on the Plains – Homesteaders & the Railroad
  • The Conflict between the Settlers & the Plains Indians

1B: Wider world depth study – Conflict & tension 1918-1939 (studied during Spring Term of Year 11) focusing on the causes of the Second World War, explaining why the conflict occurred so soon after WWI, including:

  • Peacemaking, 1919
  • The effectiveness of the League of Nations in the 1920s & 1930s in enforcing peace
  • Hitler’s steps to war in the 1930s, Appeasement & the reactions of the Allies

Paper 2: Shaping the nation

2A: Thematic study – Britain: Health & the people c1000-present (studied during Autumn Term of Year 11) developing an understanding of how & why medicine & public health changed in Britain over a long period of time, including:

  • Developments during the Middle Ages, the Renaissance, the Industrial Revolution, the Modern Age
  • Developments in Disease, Surgery & Public Health
  • Why has there been progress in the health of the British people?
  • How and why has the pace and scale of medical development varied at different times?
  • What impact has medical progress had on people and society?
  • How and why have different factors (e.g. the role of individuals, religion, war, science & technology, communication, government & chance) been more important than others in medical development?
  • What is the significance of key individuals or events in the history of medical development?

2B: British depth/historic environment study – The Normans 1066-1100 (studied in the second half of Year 10) examining in depth the arrival of the Normans in 1066 and the establishment of their rule, including:

  • The Succession Crisis & Invasion of 1066
  • The establishment of Norman rule - Castles, dealing with rebellions, the Feudal System
  • Change & continuity in life in England - government, law & order, town & village Life, Domesday Book
  • The Norman Church, religion & monasticism
  • The historic environment of Norman England - the study of an annually changing specific site in depth in the wider context of the events above in order to enrich understanding further

Each section is worth 25% of the final examination mark and the aim is to spend roughly an equal amount of time covering each. Within the units students are required to comprehend & analyse source material, comprehend & evaluate historical interpretations, use knowledge & understanding to describe features & developments & their consequences, write accounts of developments, compare similarities, describe, explain & evaluate the importance & significance of developments & reach judgements regarding causation.


The organisation and communication of historical knowledge and understanding to reach substantiated conclusions lies at the heart of being a successful GCSE History student. A range of tasks are provided to stimulate the development of literacy skills, including structured examination writing to describe, explain & evaluate. This may also take different forms for classwork & homework, such as letter and speech writing, poster design, sourcework (reading and response) and independent research / information presentation.                                              

Key words & terminology are highlighted in every lesson and sentence starters / writing frames are routinely used to help students to develop their writing - the particular focus is on the paragraph as a building block for a structured answer with the point, evidence, explanation, linked to the question (PEEL) model being widely used.

Students are issued with a list of key words/spellings for each unit of work.  These are placed in the back of student books & displayed on classroom walls. Staff focus on these target words for correction, along with additional words, which may be added to the spaces as appropriate. 

History specific literacy mats have been developed in house for use in lessons to help add to the range of vocabulary students use in their writing.

As well as writing, reading is essential for progress, and students are introduced to a variety of texts and sources - both written and visual eg cartoons with provenance captions - often through collective reading and questioning to help develop the inferential awareness required at this level.

In marking of work teachers identify key spelling and punctuation errors, for students to correct or target improvement in future pieces of work - 4 marks in each of the two examination papers (5%) is allocated to spelling, punctuation & grammar.

School Context

The current GCSE History course reflects a combination of staff expertise and department resourcing, but importantly provides a variety of historical contexts in terms of time and place in accordance with the exam board requirements. The department has the philosophy that it is important in History for students to have as broad an experience as possible throughout their school career, and there is conscious effort not to duplicate coverage wherever possible in order that the curriculum offer remains as fresh as possible throughout the Key Stages. Students will already have a grasp of some key knowledge and understanding of how countries work from their political, economic, social and religious history studied across KS3, as well as their appreciation of the key concepts involved in underpinning the study of the subject. Study of the USA may have been limited before now, and indeed, it is important for students to be aware of developments in different places as well as time to broaden their experience. Some students will be aware of the Native Americans through KS2 study, and the issue of slavery has been studied in Year 8 which provides a foundation for an understanding of the causes of the Civil War. Similarly students have awareness of the 19th century & issues regarding farming from their study of industry & agriculture in Year 9. The coverage of the Norman Conquest will be more familiar to more students from the work undertaken in Year 7, although this unit naturally extends that understanding, and provision in Year 7 has been revised in light of the potential duplication and also to provide for clear progression. The historical environment study will allow students to draw on their visits to similar sites, and it is intended to undertake a local site visit fieldwork study as part of this - Castle Acre provides both a monastic & castle visit in one to get students learning out of the classroom. The Medicine & Health unit has obvious general relevance to everybody’s life and understanding - indeed, some of the key developments are also encountered in Science - but it draws on a wider chronological appreciation which the KS3 History course has provided. We again try to avoid duplication of content, but the Black Death is briefly covered in Year 7 & the Great Plague in Year 8. The contextual foundations for a study of the causes of the Second World War have been put in place through a study of Nazi Germany in Year 9 as well as the events of the War itself and of course the Holocaust.


The purpose of marking & assessment at KS4 has been established as the following:

  • Monitoring student progress, praising achievement and identifying areas for further development
  • Monitoring missing or incomplete work / notes with a view to final GCSE revision
  • Monitoring clarity of presentation with a view to final GCSE revision
  • Checking depth of detail / explanation / understanding with a view to continued development
  • Checking key spellings & technical accuracy of writing

Students are issued with a different coloured A4 exercise book for notes/classwork for each of the four examinable units. One A5 exercise book for assessment pieces which form the basis of progress tracking.

Key assessment past paper questions - all of which are taken from the examination question past papers or adapted question stems - are usually completed in the blue A5 assessment books & marked using exam board levelled markschemes and internally devised coding to allow more efficient & effective feedback for students to identify their strengths & areas for development. These will be recorded on the student pink assessment sheets in their books & on the tracking system on the inside cover of the book . These key pieces, along with mock examination results will be graded & recorded centrally on the Go4Schools system in order to contribute to the WAG.

For day to day classwork/homework the main examinable units of the GCSE History course have been further subdivided into sections for marking purposes. Books are taken in for marking at the end of each section, rather than after each individual piece of work, thereby allowing students greater flexibility in meeting their deadlines for completing work.  This reflects the greater maturity and responsibility expected of students completing a GCSE option course. Students will be encouraged to self-assess their progress using the RAG321 process.

Ongoing classwork is marked positively using reward points to acknowledge individual pieces of work within each section – usually given for achievement or effort. Oral feedback will be used to supplement this, either on a whole class basis or individually whenever possible or appropriate.

On a lesson by lesson basis question & answer and low stakes testing frequently helps students to revisit key information to reinforce understanding in different contexts.


In our increasingly ‘hi-tech’ age students may be advised to opt for ‘vocationally relevant’ courses.  This is good advice, but they are not less likely to find a career/job if they opt for History. History is an academically respected subject, as well as being highly valued and respected by employers who demand History students for the unique combination of transferable life skills they have gained during their studies:                                             

  • Work where a knowledge of historical events is useful to understand current affairs,  for example: Journalism, Broadcasting, Civil & Diplomatic Service
  • Work which can make good use of history skills, e.g. research, for example: Law, Publishing, Management, Librarianship
  • Work which needs a knowledge of the past or of historical objects, for example: Architecture, Archive work, Heritage jobs, TV/radio programme research Conservation/natural history.