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History & Politics

Subject/Curriculum Leader: Mr J Wigby

A passion for the past and the impact History has in society is at the heart of students’ experience of History at Norton College. As a department, we strive to foster our students’ appreciation of History and to develop their understanding of why it is important to learn from History. ‘Those who don’t know history are destined to repeat it’ Edmund Burke. The curriculum we offer is broad and enriching, designed to develop an appreciation for and enjoyment of History.

The History Department is ambitious, high achieving and creative, staffed by three experienced teachers. It is our aim to promote learning in a lively and engaging way that combines fun with academic rigor. We are well resourced, with 3 classrooms, each with interactive whiteboards and a range of textbooks for all Key Stages. We also possess a range of resources for KS5 in the 6th form library.

To further develop students’ passion for History, the department offers a range of extra-curricular activities and students are encouraged to expand their interest in History outside the classroom. Students are encouraged to take part in competitions, both local and national, we were successful in the Historical Associations RAF centenary competition with the Science Department in 2018, which was a national award. We also work closely with local universities and Museums to provide enrichment opportunities.

‘We study History not to be clever in another time, but to be wise always’ Cicero

Key Stage 3

In Years 7, 8 and 9 students study History in four one-hour lessons per fortnight. Students are taught in mixed ability groups across KS3. Lessons are based on developing historical skills and promoting active and accessible learning.

Each scheme of work includes a range of different and challenging topics providing students with the key historical skills, knowledge, concepts, sources and interpretations. The curriculum at KS3 is broadly chronological starting with What is History? Which enables us to assess any prior knowledge students may hold. Year 7’s focus is primarily focused on 1066 to the end of the Tudors in 1603 but also gives a background from the Iron Age onwards. Year 8 focus is on the early modern world up until the advent of WW1. Year 9 looks at the USA and Civil Rights, WW1, the interwar years, WW2, the Holocaust and finishes with the Cold War. These topics also give students a grounding in what is taught at GCSE enabling them to have a relevant understanding of the context around events and not seeing them in isolation.

Year 7 - Autumn term

What is History?

Focus on Historical Skills – Causation, Chronology, Interpretations, Empathy, Significance and Change and Continuity.

Britain from the Iron Age to the End of Anglo-Saxon England

Key Concept – Migration and Society. Why did people come to Britain?

Medieval Power 1066 – 1509

Key concepts – Power, Monarchy, Warfare and Religion. Includes the Battles of 1066, William the Conqueror, King John and Magna Carta, Warfare in medieval times.

Year 7 - Spring term

The struggle between Church and Crown – Evidence and interpretations

Key concepts – The power of the Church, Doom Paintings, Henry II and Becket, Medieval literature

Medieval Life 1066 to 1509

Key concepts – Society, Religion, Disease and Medicine. Includes life in villages, Towns and Castles. The Black Death and the Peasants Revolt. Crime and punishment. A comparison study with Medieval Africa and Asia. Local study on Wharram Percy.

The Crusades

Key concepts – Religion, Warfare, Society and Trade. Includes focus on Richard I, Saladin and the Third Crusade

Medieval Medicine

Key concepts – Rediscovering of ancient skills, Islamic culture and medicine, Medieval medicine

Year 7 - Summer term

The Hundred Years War and the Wars of the Roses

Key concepts – Warfare, dynastic struggles, foreign policies, domestic policies

The Tudors

Key concepts – Power, Religion, Women, Monarchy, and society

Year 8 - Autumn term

The End of the Tudors and the advent of the Stuarts

Key concepts – Elizabeth I and the succession crisis, James I and the Gunpowder Plot, the divine right of kings

The English Civil War

Key concepts – Warfare, women, political ideas, everyday life, the commonwealth

The 17th Century Witch craze

Key concepts – Pendle witches, Salem, Matthew Hopkins, Thirty Years War and witchcraft

Year 8 - Spring term

Early modern global empires

Key concepts – Mughals, Aztecs, Benin, Mayan, Chinese and Japanese empires.

The Empire and the Slave Trade

Key concepts – Racism, Exploitation and Colonisation. Includes Transatlantic Slavery, British India and life under the Empire across the Globe.

Year 8 - Summer term

The Industrial Revolution

Key concepts – Science, Technology, Economy and Society. Includes Poor Laws, City Living, Workhouses and a Local Study on Malton and Norton.

Power to the People: 1770 – 1918

Key concepts – Democracy, Representation, Revolution and Politics. Includes American and French Revolutions, Peterloo, Chartists and Suffragettes.

Year 9 - Autumn term

American Civil Rights 1860 to the present

Key concepts - Democracy, Racism, Tolerance and Justice. Includes the American Civil War, Separate but Equal, Crow Laws, Civil Rights Movements and Black Lives Matters Movement.

World War 1 1914 to 1918

Key concepts - War, Nationalism, Alliances, Militarism, Imperialism and Propaganda. Includes Causes of WW1, Battles, Poetry, Art, the Home Front, Soldiers of the Empire and Remembrance.

Year 9 - Spring term - Interwar Years

Key concepts – Russian Revolution and Civil War, Power, Alliances, Ideologies, Society. Includes the Roaring 20’s, Hungry Thirties, General Strike, Prohibition, Rise of Dictators.

The Holocaust

Key Concepts – Indoctrination, Discrimination, Persecution and Genocide. Includes What is the Holocaust? A Warning from History.

World War Two 1939 to 1945

Key concepts – Appeasement, Total War, World Events. Includes focus on a world scale, Dunkirk, Eastern Front, Africa, Asia, D-Day, Victory and Justification?

Year 9 - Summer term - The Cold War:

Key concepts – Technology, Ideologies – Capitalism versus Communism and Society. Includes the Atom Bomb, The Superpowers, Korea, Vietnam, Cambodia, Arms Race and the Space Race.

Social History of Youth 1950-1990

Key concepts – Political ideas, protest, music, consumerism and the teenager

Key Stage 4

History is a popular choice at Key Stage 4, students are entered for Edexcel GCSE History.

Final assessment of these GCSEs will take place at the end of Year 11, in the form of four separate topics in three formal examinations. Paper 1 is on Crime and Punishment c1000 to the Present Day including a Depth Study on Whitechapel c1870 to c1900. Paper 2 is a combined paper in two parts on The Anglo-Saxons and Norman England c1060 to C1088 and Superpower Relations and the Cold War 1941 to 1991. Paper 3 is Weimar and Nazi Germany 1919 to 1939. There are 5 History lessons a fortnight at KS4 for students.

Over the course of the two years, students will be assessed regularly, and their progress tracked. Students are also provided with revision guides and have the opportunity to buy further revision resources at a discounted price. Formal mock examinations take place at the end of Year 10 and in the autumn term of Year 11. To extend students’ learning, we offer a range of extra-curricular activities including a trip to Berlin and we are also aiming to put on trips to York Dungeons and local historical sites related to the course content. In the spring term of Year 11, students are provided with an extensive revision programme in preparation for their final exams, which take place at the end of Year 11.

Year 10 - Autumn term

Key Topic 1: Anglo-Saxon England and the Norman Conquest 1060-66

Anglo Saxon Society

Edward the Confessor and the Succession crisis

The rival claimants to the throne

The Norman invasion

Key Topic 2: William I in power: securing the kingdom, 1066-87

Establishing control

Anglo-Saxon Resistance, 1068–71

The legacy of resistance to 1087

The revolt of the earls, 1075

Key Topic 3: Norman England, 1066-88

The feudal system and the Church

Norman government

Norman aristocracy

William I and his sons

Year 10 - Spring term

Key Topic 1: c1000-c1500: Crime, punishment and law enforcement in medieval England

Crime, punishment and law enforcement in Anglo-Saxon England

Crime, punishment and law enforcement in Norman England

Crime, punishment and law enforcement in the later Middle Ages

Case study: the influence of the Church on crime and punishment

Key Topic 2: c1500-c1700: Crime, punishment and law enforcement in early modern England

Changing definitions of crime, c1500-c1700

Law enforcement and punishment, c1500-c1700

Case study: The crimes and punishment of the Gunpowder plotters, 1605

Witchcraft and the law, c1500-c1700

Key Topic 3: c1700-c1900: Crime, punishment and law enforcement in the 18th and 19th centuries

Changing definitions of crime, c1700-c1900

Changing attitudes to punishment, c1700-c1900

Law enforcement, c1700-c1900

Case study: The separate system at Pentonville Prison

Case study: The reforms of Robert Peel

Year 10 - Summer term

Key Topic 4: c1900 – present: Crime, punishment and law enforcement in recent times

Crimes and definitions of crime, c1900-present

Law enforcement, c1900-present

Changes in punishment, c1900-present

Case study: Conscientious objectors in WW1 and WW2

Case study: The Derek Bentley case and the abolition of capital punishment

Key Topic 5: Whitechapel, c1870-c1900: Crime, policing and the inner city

Context: Policing the nation

The local contest of Whitechapel

Tensions in Whitechapel

Police organisation in Whitechapel

Investigative policing in Whitechapel

Year 11 - Autumn term

Key Topic 1: The Weimar Republic, 1918-29

The origins of the Republic, 1918-19

The early challenges to the Weimar Republic, 1919-23

The recovery of the Republic, 1924-29

Changes in society, 1924-29

Key Topic 2: Hitler’s rise to power, 1919-33

Early development of the Nazi Party, 1920-22

The Munich Putsch and the lean years, 1923-29

The growth in support for the Nazis, 1929-32

How Hitler became Chancellor, 1932-33

Key Topic 3: Nazi control and dictatorship, 1933-39

The creation of a dictatorship, 1933-34

The police state

Controlling and influencing attitudes

Opposition, resistance and conformity

Key Topic 4: Life in Nazi Germany, 1933-39

Nazi policies towards women

Nazi policies towards the young

Employment and living standards

The persecution of minorities

Year 11 - Spring term

Key Topic 1: The Origins of the Cold War, 1941-58

Early tension between East and West 1

Early tension between East and West 2

The development of the Cold War 1

The development of the Cold War 2

The Cold War intensifies 1

The Cold War intensifies 2

Key Topic 2: Cold War crises, 1958-70

Increased tension over Berlin, 1958-61

The Cuban Missile Crisis

The Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia, 1968

Key Topic 3: The end of the Cold War, 1970-91

Attempts to reduce tension between East and West 1

Attempts to reduce tension between East and West 2


The collapse of Soviet control of Eastern Europe 1

The collapse of Soviet control of Eastern Europe 2

Key Stage 5

At KS5 The Department offers courses in both History and Politics. Both courses have proved to be popular with numbers of Sixth Form students opting to study History and Politics. Through varied and creative teaching methods, within a supportive academic environment, students are encouraged to become independent, evaluative learners, studying History and Politics to the highest levels.

We teach OCR A Level England 1485-1558: The Early Tudors (Enquiry topic: Mid Tudor Crisis 1547-1558) and Russia 1894-1941 in Year 12 History.  In Year 13 History we teach China and its Rulers 1839 to 1989 and an Independent Topic based Essay, which provides students with the opportunity to focus on a historical topic of their choice. There are 8 lessons a fortnight for History

Academic study is complemented by a number of extra-curricular enrichment opportunities, which aim to broaden and develop students’ knowledge and understanding of the subjects in different contexts. Previous opportunities have included visits to Parliament, guest speakers and  visits to York University Library. We regularly welcome visiting speakers to provide enrichment for our students and are aiming to work closely with the National Archives in London to enhance our use of primary source material.

The Tudors and Russia are taught in Year 12 with a 5-3 split. The Tudors module focuses on the reigns and policies of Henry VII and Henry VIII where you will learn about pretenders to the throne, domestic strife, foreign policies, wars, powerful men and women, court intrigue, the reformation and rebels and traitors. We then move onto the Mid Tudor Crisis, which is source based, and study Edward VI, Lady Jane Grey and Mary I and the religious rollercoaster and subsequent problems that arise. 

Assessment for the Tudors is one 1 ½ hour examination

Year 12 - Autumn term  - The Tudors

Henry VII – The beginning of a Dynasty

Opposition to Henry VII

Relations with the Nobility

Royal Government

England’s position in 15th Century Europe

Henry VII’s Foreign Policy aims

Key events and actions

Henry VIII’s personality

The Age of Wolsey

The divorce and Wolsey’s fall

Year 12 - Spring term - The Tudors

Religious change and opposition

The Dissolution of the Monasteries

The Pilgrimage of Grace

The fall of Henry’s wives

The rise and fall of Thomas Cromwell

Foreign Policy in the 1540’s

Faction in the 1540’s

The stability of the Monarchy

Weaknesses of the Mid Tudor Monarchs

Marriage and securing the succession

Government and faction 1549-58

Year 12 - Summer term

The Tudors

Religious changes – key figures

The religious and ecclesiastical policies 1547-1558

Reaction to religious changes

Causes and nature of rebellion and unrest

Social and economic problems and their role in rebellion

The rebellions of 1549

Rebellions against Mary Tudor


Russia focuses on the last years of Imperial rule under the Romanovs and includes sections on the problems of reform, the Russo-Japanese War of 1905 and the 1905 Revolution. Russia’s entry and subsequent defeat in WW1, Rasputin and the Romanovs, the 1917 Revolutions and the execution of the Royal family. The Russian Civil War and Lenin finishing with the dictatorship of Stalin.

Assessment for Russia is one 1 hour examination

Year 12 -  Autumn term – Russia

Late Imperial Russia 1894-1905

Economic reform under Witte

The Russo-Japanese War 1904-5

The 1905 Revolution

From revolution to war 1905-14

Economic policy under Stolypin

The dumas

From war to revolution1914-17

Impact of war and growth of opposition

February Revolution 1917

Year 12 - Spring term – Russia

The Provisional Government and its problems

The October Revolution

Bolsheviks in power

Russian Civil War

Lenin and control

Lenin’s legacy

Stalin’s rise to power

‘Permanent Revolution’ versus ‘Socialism in one Country’

Stalin’s victory

Year 12 - Summer term – Russia

Stalin’s economic policies

Stalin’s dictatorship

The purges

Stalin and the cult of personality

Stalin’s foreign policy

Stalin’s record by 1941

China is predicted to become the biggest economy in the world overtaking the USA within 20 years. Its power and dominance is only growing so understanding the history of China is important for understanding how the 20th Century affected China and how China will affect the 21st Century. It is a complex but fascinating story.

The focus of the module is on the nature of Chinese government and its impact on Chinese people, society and the wider world. You will learn about similarities and differences between the nature of the Qing dynasty in Imperial China, the Presidency of Yuan Shikai, the Warlord Era, the Nationalist Government and the Communist government after 1949. We study the time period 1839-1989.

Assessment is one 2½ hour examination.

Year 13 - Autumn term - China

First Opium Wars

Second Opium Wars

Treaty of Nanjing

Taiping rebellion

Self-Strengthening Movement

First Sino-Japanese War

Boxer Uprising

The Qing Emperors and the influence of Dowager Empress Cixi

Year 13 - Spring term – China

The fall of the Qing dynasty

The New Republic

The rule of Yuan Shikai

The Warlord Era

The rise of the GMD and Chiang Kaishek

The Second Sino-Japanese War

The victory of communism in 1949

The Great Leap Forward

The Cultural Revolution

Year 13 - Summer term - China

Social development after 1975

Death of Mao and his legacy

Mao’s successors

China as a regional power until 1989

Protest and the rise of the middle class

The independent study coursework is on a historical topic of your choice that you have not studied at A level. It is a 3,000 to 4,000 word assignment which prepares you for writing dissertations at Degree level. OCR provide a bank of questions you can choose from or you can choose your own question subject to approval from the examination board. This is the coursework element of your A level qualification.

Year 13 - Autumn term – Independent Study

Working out a topic

Doing research

Reading and taking notes – strategies that work

What’s the question? What’s the problem?

Planning the essay

The introduction, make or break

Spring term – Independent Study

Handling primary sources

Building blocks of the essay: Developing your argument, building a paragraph

Developing your argument using secondary sources

Writing your conclusion

Presenting your work

Summer term- Independent Study

Completion of work and submission

Full specification is here

Subject: Politics

Subject/Curriculum Leader: Mr J Wigby

Democracy, dictatorship, monarchy, communism and republic – how do these political systems work and what impact do they have on citizens around the world?

Government and politics affects every aspect of our lives; our freedoms, our laws, the opportunities we have to succeed in life. At home in the UK debate continues on immigration, the health services and education.

We also look at the politics of the USA which has come under so much scrutiny over the last few years and is undergoing huge change currently.

You will study the features of government and political systems at local, national, and international levels. You do not need to have studied the subject before, but you must have an interest in politics and current affairs.

Topics include:

UK Government and Politics

Political Ideas (liberalism, conservatism and socialism)

US Government and Politics

Non-core political ideologies including anarchism and nationalism.

The popularity of the Politics department can be seen with large numbers of Sixth Form students opting to study Politics. Through varied and creative teaching methods, within a supportive academic environment, students are encouraged to become independent, evaluative learners, studying Politics to the highest levels.

Academic study is complemented by a number of extra-curricular enrichment opportunities, which aim to broaden and develop students’ knowledge and understanding of the subject in different contexts. Recent opportunities have included a visit to Houses of Parliament.  We also welcome visiting political speakers to provide enrichment for our students.

Year 12 - Autumn term

Democracy and participation (unit 1)

Political Parties (unit 1)

The Constitution (unit 2)

Structure and Functions Parliament (unit 2)

Year 12 - Spring term

Electoral systems (unit 1)

Voting Behaviour and the Media (unit 1)

Prime Minister and the Executive (unit 2)

Relations between Branches (incl. Judiciary) (unit 2)

Year 12 - Summer term

Core political Ideas (liberalism, conservatism, socialism) (unit 1)

Non-core political ideas (anarchism and nationalism) (unit 2)

Year 13 - Autumn term

US constitution (unit 3)

US Presidency (unit 3)

US Supreme Court and Civil rights (unit 3)

Year 13 - Spring term

US Congress (unit 3)

US Democracy and Participation (unit 3)

Year 13 - Summer term

Comparative theories (unit 3)

Revision of topics and exam skills preparation (all units)

Assessment is 3 x 2 hour examinations. One on Unit 1, one on Unit 2 and another on Unit 3. There are source based questions on the unit 1 and 2 papers.

The full specification is here