"If you were born yesterday, with no knowledge of the past, you might easily accept whatever the government [or anyone else] tells you. But knowing a bit of history ... might make you sceptical, lead you to ask questions."
How can we work out how to be in the future, if we have no idea where we have come from? We can't! That probably explains why many people in leadership positions in this country have studied History; from leaders in media and creative arts to leaders in industry, law and politics. Successful historians are creative and analytical. They can think clearly, make connections, use evidence persuasively to substantiate their arguments, and communicate effectively.
Mount students on a project day researching the significance of Magna Carta
Everyone studies History in S7-S9 (Years 7-9). Building on their study of History in their primary school, students develop their historical thinking by exploring local, national and international topics. In Year 7, students study the invasions of England and then study what it was like to live in the UK in the past and how this changed over time. In Year 8, our study focuses upon migration, trade and the development of Empire and how this has shaped the UK. In Year 9 we study a 20th century course covering the era of the World Wars and including the campaigns for civil rights. Students learn how to use source material as evidence to ask questions of the past, evaluate different interpretations of the past and consider what makes events and changes historically significant. They are encouraged to take their study of History beyond the classroom, to enjoy the way History is presented around us and to read widely. For example, Year 8 visit Wilberforce House Slavery Museum and Year 9 travel to the National Holocaust Memorial Centre as part of their studies. In Year 7 students also study a course called 'Investigating York'. Led by the History Department, IY seeks to build skills useful to their learning and to help students to engage with the wonderful City of York on our doorstep, including its people and its politics.
Year 7 enjoy scripted drama to understand the history of Fountains' Abbey
The department follows the AQA specification. Students study a thematic History topic called 'Power and the People: 1170 to the present day'. They also study Elizabethan England, 1568-1603 (including a study of the historic environment), Russia 1894-1945 and 'Conflict and tension between East and West' 1945-1975. The Elizabethan Study involves fieldwork in our local area. GCSE historians also have the opportunity to take part in a study tour to the former Western Front.
Why Europe? was a joint project between History students from The Mount School, Millthorpe School and Phillip-Melancthon Gymnasium in Germany.
The AQA A Level History specification develops further students' knowledge and skills. It is very highly regarded by universities and employers. Students study for a breadth paper on the topic of Germany 1871-1991, as part of which they work with historical interpretations. They also work for a depth paper on the Wars of the Roses 1450-1499, in which they use source material from the time. The third part of the A level is a personal study, similar to a dissertation, that students complete in their second year of Sixth Form. Through 1:1 tutorials, students develop, research and respond to a question of their own choice, answering a question that ranges over 100 years and engages with current historical debate on the topic. The department organises a study tour to Berlin and has a well-established partnership with a school, with whom we work on history projects each year.
Study Tour to Berlin
Every opportunity is taken to engage in History beyond the classroom. From film trips at the local cinema to visits to Berlin, from engaging with local history groups to developing films for the European network of history educators, and from local Historical Association lectures to presenting at international conferences. The Department was the first in the country to be awarded the Historical Association's Gold Award, and our assessors rated our History outside the classroom as exceeding all their assessment criteria. You can follow what we do via our departmental blog at www.mounthistoryroom.com.
Mount students filming for Euroclio on the topic of remembering World War 1
Recent students have left school to study History at a wide range of universities, including Oxford and Cambridge. Historians have also gone on to study subjects not offered in school, such as Politics, International Relations, Law, Medicine, Business and Finance, Archaeology and Anthropology. We love keeping in touch with old scholars and hearing about where their History takes them after their formal education ends. The study of History prepares students for so many things and Mount historians can be found in many places.
The Mount School has developed a successful partnership with Millthorpe School in York and the Phillip-Melanchthon Gymnasium Schule in Grünheide, near Berlin, Germany. Millthorpe and The Mount are both part of the York Independent State School Partnership network and we hope to engage more York schools in the future. In 2011, with the help of a grant from UK-German Connection, students explored what it means to be British and German, how these identities have been shaped and changed and also what they mean to us today. In 2012 we undertook a project called "Remember!Remember? memory and commemoration in Britain and Germany". One of the results of this project was a report about how the centenary of World War One should be marked. We have sent our ideas to ministers, our local MP and the Imperial War Museum. In 2013, we developed a project about migration. Each week during a project we work on a different topic area, exchanging blogs and stories with each other online. we then meet up in York or Berlin. There are so many opportunities in this for thinking, debating, practising our language skills and making friends. Please visit our work, comment and get involved by going to www.facebook.com/GruenheideYorkPartnership. We are also on twitter @gruenheideyork. We are all very excited about the possibilities the partnership brings for 'much more than just an ordinary school trip'.
As part of our project with Germany the historical association asked us to put some podcasts together in which students from all three partner schools discussed how a study of History has influenced their sense of national identity and their understanding of each others' national identities. You can hear these at the Student Zone on www.history.org.uk.
We live and work in such a beautiful and fascinating city and we think all our students should really engage with it. Year 7 have a lesson each week called Investigating York and we take the opportunity to get out and about in the city as much as possible. Not only do we investigate aspects of York's past, we learn how it has shaped the way the city is today. We get involved with contemporary issues and debates in the city and find out how our city functions. As we make our investigations we get the chance to develop skills which help us achieve in school, through independent thinking, good team-work and actively learning how to perform research.
We have worked with the Imperial War Museum and www.makewav.es several times over the last few years. For example, Year 11 spent some time thinking about how conflict can be resolved and what makes it possible. They heard from an eye-witness to the Bosnian conflict and then researched specific aspects of the conflict and reported their findings to camera.
We were the first school in the country to be awarded the Gold Level Quality Mark from the Historical Association. Click here for our gallery of photographs from the House of Lords' Reception for launch of the Historical Association's Quality Kitemark.