Department Staff Teaching


  • Mr P Buckland - Subject Leader
  • Mr T Piotrowski 
  • Mr J Sladden




The History department at Queen Elizabeth’s aims to instill an enthusiasm and lifelong passion for the past in all students through the study of a variety of historical periods. In truly historic surroundings, the pupils are encouraged to think about the wider significance of events and how the past has shaped the world in which we live today. Extra-curricular clubs and school trips enrich this experience, further enabling pupils to transfer the fundamental historical skills of research, analysis and evaluation to other areas of the curriculum, whilst developing their role in society as responsible citizens, truly appreciative of their history.




The study of history is enriched at Queen Elizabeth’s through a variety of trips and cross curricular activities which take place across the key stages in order to build upon existing knowledge and encourage pupils to become more aware of their immediate surroundings in such an historic location.

In years seven to nine pupils have the opportunity to get involved in 'The Great History Debate' which pits students against each other in a series of tussles over matters such as the reputation of significant figures, chief triggers of major events and the value of historic sites. This club provides a perfect pathway to the senior debating society which many students down the years have gained a great deal from. Year seven pupils are also encouraged to participate in our 'Horrible Histories House Club'. Through games, stories and laughter pupils get the chance to learn about the past in a truly fun and low stakes way and this has proven to be very popular!

Cross curricular trips to the World War One battlefields of Ypres and Tudor sites have been run to great success in the past and we anticipate providing similar opportunities to students in the future.




In years seven and eight, emphasis is placed on introducing pupils to the historical skills they will need throughout their time at Queen Elizabeth’s - especially chronological and contextual understanding, using evidence (primary sources) and interrogating differing interpretations. After establishing the value of history as an academic discipline, pupils in year seven explore a 1,000 year theme entitled 'Life And Death: How Did The Lives Of Ordinary People Change Over Time - From Hastings To Windrush?' The social lives of people in the fields, workshops and factories from the Middle Ages to the Second World War are studied as well as the impact of events such as the Black Death, Reformation, slave trade, Industrial Revolution and the call to arms in 1914. Year eight pupils begin their studies by returning to 1066 and learning about the same stretch of time but with a different theme to focus on - 'Power and Conflict: How Has Power Been Imposed And Challenged Over Time - From Hastings To Auschwitz.' Here pupils will investigate topics such as the initial imposition of autocratic control during the Conquest, the Magna Carta, the execution of Charles I, the British empire and two world wars. Our fusion of a chronological and thematic approach to exploring the past aids both an appreciation of change and continuity as well as insightful analysis. It is in year eight that pupils make their GCSE option choices; and as a department, it is very much hoped that pupils will continue their study of history in order to further develop their understanding of their place in the world, if not their very identity itself.




At GCSE level, pupils continue to build on the skills of historical enquiry that they have gained from key stage three (e.g contextual knowledge, using evidence and interrogating interpretations). In history we are blessed to have a rich variety of topics that we can select to learn about and we are confident that our combination will intrigue, surprise and engage any student that opts to continue with the subject. We follow the AQA specification and, in doing so, explore four core topics over the course of three years.


 1. Britain: Health and the people: c1000 to the present day

This thematic study is tackled first - partly because it continues the thematic approach to learning history that pupils have become used to from years seven and eight. Successful students gain a impressive understanding of how medicine and public health developed in Britain over a long period of time. They consider the causes, scale, nature and consequences of short and long term developments (such as the discovery of the smallpox vaccine), their impact on British society and how they were related to the key features and characteristics of the periods during which they took place. Although the focus of this study is the development of medicine and public health in Britain, it will also draw on wider world developments that impacted the development of medicine, surgery and public health in Britain - such as the Islamic Golden Age and the European Renaissance.


2. Conflict and tension, 1894–1918

This depth study enables students to understand the complex and competing interests of the Great Powers and other states at a crucial moment in recent history. It focuses on the causes, nature and conclusion of the First World War and seeks to show how and why conflict occurred, and why it proved difficult to end the stalemate and bring the war to a conclusion. This study also considers the role of key individuals and groups in shaping change and how they were affected by and influenced international relations.


3. Elizabethan England, c1568–1603

This unit allows students to study a specified period, the last 35 years of Elizabeth I's reign, in depth. The study will focus on major events of Elizabeth I’s reign considered from economic, religious, political, social and cultural standpoints - such as her relationship with Mary Queen of Scots, conflict with Spain, involvement in the slave trade and the difficulties of being a female ruler in the 16th century.


4. Germany, 1890–1945: Democracy and dictatorship

This period study focuses on the development of Germany during a very turbulent half century of change. It was a period of democracy and dictatorship – the development and collapse of democracy and the rise and fall of Nazism. Students will study the political, economic, social and cultural aspects of these two developments and the role ideas played in influencing change. They will also look at the role of key individuals, such as Wilhelm II, 'Red Rosa', Stresemann, Hitler and Himmler, and groups, such as the Spartacists, SS and White Rose, in shaping change.




At A Level, students push their analytical and evaluative skills even further and begin to write truly impressive and persuasive essays. Like at GCSE, we are delighted with the topics that we can provide and, especially at this level, we relish the opportunity to get under the skin of the fascinating individuals, groups and events that underpin the stories that we tell. We continue to use AQA as our exam board and, due to this, students find the expectations of markschemes logical, achievable and aspirational.   

Component one (Mr Buckland)


Historical Breadth Study - The Tudors: England 1485-1603

This option allows students to study the concepts of change, continuity, cause and consequence in breadth across this fascinating period. From the spidery Henry VII to the wrecking ball that was Henry VIII students open the A Level on this side of the course with two very contrasting rulers before they explore how, arguably, Tudor authority unravelled under the boy king, Edward VI and his devout sister Mary. Students finish the course with an investigation into the reign of Elizabeth I and consider how responsible she was for bringing the Mid Tudor Crisis to an end. Underpinning the unit are a series of themes - how effectively did the Tudors restore and develop the powers of the monarchy? In what ways and how effectively was England governed during this period? How effectively were rebels responded to? How did relations with foreign powers change and how was the succession secured? How did English society and economy change and with what effects? How far did intellectual and religious ideas change and develop and with what effects? How important was the role of key individuals and groups and how were they affected by developments? 

Component two (Mr Piotrowski)


Historical Depth Study - The Cold War, c1945-1991

This option provides for the study of the evolving course of international relations during an era of tension between communist and capitalist powers which threatened nuclear Armageddon. Students will explore why, despite the coming together of Soviet and US troops in Berlin in 1945 to terminate the Nazi regime, a new conflict so quickly developed between them. They will also investigate why the relationship between these superpowers worsened and eased through the 20th century until, ultimately, developing an appreciation of why the Americans came out on top and how that has shaped the world we live in today. This mesmerising course explores key concepts such as communism and anti-communism, aggression and détente and also encourages students to reflect on the power of modern military technology, what hastens confrontation and what forces promote peace in the modern world. 

Component three (both teachers)


Historical Investigation (Coursework Essay) - US Civil Rights 1861 - 1968

Students also have the chance to investigate, research and write an extended essay about the development of the Civil Rights movement in the USA between the start of the American Civil War and the assassination of Martin Luther King. Students will use Term 6 of Year 12 to acquire the historical knowledge and skills so as to equip them for success in this unit. Students are given a question and are then directed to key books, debates and sources as well as having the opportunity to deduce key arguments for themselves. Writing is only undertaken after considerable reading and planning is completed.            

History in years twelve and thirteen equips pupils with the skills they will utilise to study history at university level. The popularity of history at Queen Elizabeth’s is demonstrated in the high uptake numbers in Year nine and Year 12, and we have many students each year who choose to pursue their study of history at university. History also trains the mind for any career but especially journalism, law, politics, police work, the armed forces and a life in business. However, in the end, regardless of all of this, we are driven by a passion to plant the seed of history into the heart and imagination of every pupil that we welcome into our classrooms and hope that all of them leave us as better informed and inspired young people ready to take on the 21st century.