History at the Prep
1066 and the Battle of Hasting was a formative moment in English history. The fact that the Preparatory school has unrestricted access to one of the key historical sites in England allows us to make the Battle of Hastings, life in the medieval period, weapons, castles and settlement building, all the way up to the dissolution of the monasteries come to life. History at the Prep School is all about making the past seem vital, exciting and vivid.
History occupies at least 2 lessons a week and at this early stage we focus on key moments in the past, bringing them out of chronological order and examining them as self-contained historical case studies with causes, actions and consequences of their own. How key historical concepts impact on the children’s lives is very important in making them seem relevant.
Key Stage 1 tend to go on the majority of our Historical trips as learning at this age is predominantly visual. Similarly we don’t rely on worksheets for field trips as children often have a hard time grasping ideas from their immediate surroundings and putting them down on paper. Field trips and off site visits are discussed and associated work completed back in the classroom, where concepts and ideas can be supported with our excellent resources.
Our year 3 Bodiam field trip is a good example of looking at issues on site and taking concepts back to the classroom for projects and discussion, and work in IT is used to support historical projects. For instance our Castle project is a truly cross curricular topic including elements of IT, Geography and History, in which pupils learn where, and how best to build their castle before designing, labelling and printing their drawings and diagrams for display in the school.
Through our intuitive learning environments the pupils can visit the ancient civilisation of Egypt, stopping to see the cities and studying the rivers that flow through them, take part in the Norman invasion, take a tour of Europe with the Romans and be back in the classroom in time for lunch. The pupils will also study the Stuarts, the plague and the great fire of London. A trip to Newhaven fort brings us forward in history to look at the home-front and key concepts of WW2.
Throughout the pupils are encouraged to apply a non judgemental approach to historical analysis. Not everything is true and history is almost invariably written by the winners just look at the Bayeux tapestry! Teaching children to explore the arguments and debates of history with an open mind to other, often hidden, sides to the story can teach children a valuable lesson about their interaction outside the history department and even outside the school.