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Mr Thompson - Curriculum Leader for Humanities

Hello, I'm Mr Thompson and I am one of the History teachers here at Park. As well as this, I am also the Curriculum Leader for Humanities, where we have a fantastic team of nine teachers across History, Geography and Religious Studies, who are all here to make sure that your time at Park is the best it can be.

If you ever need any help, or if you have any questions about any of the Humanities subjects, then you will normally be able to find me in Zone 5, or you will see me on the corridors around school.


Geography at Park:

  • equips all learners with the knowledge, understanding and cultural capital which they will need for the world they lie and work in,
  • is planned to allow learners to develop enquiring minds and a sense of awe and wonder about the world at local, national and global scales,
  • cumulatively builds from primary, through KS3 and KS4 with the aim of inspiring students to take their Geography studies beyond GCSE, providing students with an understanding of potential career pathways beyond this,
  • builds on prior knowledge and provides opportunities for students to commit concepts to their long-term memories through interleaving ideas and frequent retrieval of previous content,
  • covers the knowledge, understanding and skills needed to succeed academically whilst also developing wider skills to succeed in life,
  • provides opportunities to learn both inside and outside the classroom.

The Geography curriculum is skilfully sequenced and based around a series of journeys that students go on throughout their time studying the subject. These journeys or themes run through the units covered in KS3 and KS4 allowing students’ knowledge and skills to grow and develop over time. As a result, topics can link back to each other providing further opportunities for interleaving and retrieval. The six geography journeys are outlined on the geography journey map.

At KS3 students cover all aspects of Geography outlined in the National Curriculum to ensure they have a broad and balanced knowledge of human and physical geography. They develop strong locational knowledge and spatial awareness and study several countries to ensure they have good place knowledge. Geographical skills are taught throughout the topics allowing opportunities to implement these skills in a range of contexts.

At KS4, students study AQA Geography. To increase the opportunities for retrieval and to improve engagement through shorter topics, the GCSE units have been broken down to allow them to be revisited during the two-year course. For example, rather than teaching Living World as one block, this is split into two. At one point in the course students study Living Word with a focus on rainforests and then later in the course they focus on cold environments; thus, allowing the revisiting and retrieval of knowledge gained earlier in the course and the application of said knowledge in a new context.

Throughout the five-year journey students’ exam skills are gradually built up so that by the end of Year 11 all command words are fully understood and students are confident at responding to them in a range of contexts. At KS3 students focus on developing knowledge and understanding and as they progress through KS4 more opportunities for application such as evaluation and analysis are provided.


Key Stage 3

At KS3 pupils follow the National Curriculum, which states that pupils should consolidate and extend their knowledge of the world’s major countries and their physical and human features. They should understand how geographical processes interact to create distinctive human and physical landscapes that change over time. In doing so, they should become aware of increasingly complex geographical systems in the world around them. They should develop greater competence in using geographical knowledge, approaches and concepts [such as models and theories] and geographical skills in analysing and interpreting different data sources. In this way pupils will continue to enrich their locational knowledge and spatial and environmental understanding.

In conjunction with this, students therefore develop:

Locational knowledge

  • To extend their locational knowledge and deepen their spatial awareness of the world’s countries, using maps of the world to focus on Africa, Russia, Asia (including China and India), and the Middle East, focusing on their environmental regions, including polar and hot deserts, key physical and human characteristics, countries and major cities.

Place knowledge

  • To understand geographical similarities, differences and links between places through the study of the human and physical geography of a region in Africa and a region in Asia.

Human and physical geography

To understand, through the use of detailed place-based exemplars at a variety of scales, the key processes in:

    • Physical geography relating to: geological timescales and plate tectonics; rocks, weathering and soils; weather and climate, including the change in climate from the Ice Age to the present; and glaciation, hydrology and coasts.
    • Human geography relating to: population and urbanisation; international development; economic activity in the primary, secondary, tertiary and quaternary sectors; and the use of natural resources.
    • Understanding how human and physical processes interact to influence and change landscapes, environments and the climate; and how human activity relies on the effective functioning of natural systems.

Geographical skills and fieldwork

  • To build on their knowledge of globes, maps and atlases, and apply and develop this knowledge routinely in the classroom and in the field.
  • To interpret Ordnance Survey maps in the classroom and the field, including using grid references and scale, topographical and other thematic mapping, and aerial and satellite photographs.
  • To use Geographical Information Systems (GIS) to view, analyse and interpret places and data.
  • To use fieldwork in contrasting locations to collect, analyse and draw conclusions from geographical data, using multiple sources of increasingly complex information.


Each unit is assessed through a variety of classwork and homework tasks, together with a formative assessment at the end of each unit. Assessments are designed to incorporate testing of both substantive and disciplinary knowledge. Student progress is then reported home to parents via the termly student tracker.


Key Stage 4

At Key Stage 4 we follow the AQA Geography Specification.

GCSE specifications in geography should enable students to build on their key stage 3 knowledge and skills to:

  • develop and extend their knowledge of locations, places, environments and processes, and of different scales including global; and of social, political and cultural contexts (know geographical material)
  • gain understanding of the interactions between people and environments, change in places and processes over space and time, and the interrelationship between geographical phenomena at different scales and in different contexts (think like a geographer)
  • develop and extend their competence in a range of skills including those used in fieldwork, in using maps and Geographical Information Systems (GIS) and in researching secondary evidence, including digital sources; and develop their competence in applying sound enquiry and investigative approaches to questions and hypotheses (study like a geographer)
  • apply geographical knowledge, understanding, skills and approaches appropriately and creatively to real world contexts, including fieldwork, and to contemporary situations and issues; and develop well-evidenced arguments drawing on their geographical knowledge and understanding (applying geography).

Exam Content

Paper 1 (1 hour 30 minutes, 35% of GCSE):

  • The Challenge of Natural Hazards
  • The Living World
  • Physical Landscapes in the UK

Paper 2 (1 hour 30 minutes, 35% of GCSE):

  • Urban Issues and Challenges
  • The Changing Economic World
  • The Challenge of Resource Management

Paper 3 (1 hour 15 minutes, 30% of GCSE):

  • Issue Evaluation
  • Fieldwork
  • Geographical skills


Our History curriculum equips students with a strong command of explicit knowledge of British History and embeds an appreciation for our rich and diverse heritage and values. Our students are immersed in a chronological Historical journey, gaining fluency on how the peoples of Britain have shaped our nation, whilst also examining Britain’s role and impact in the wider world. Throughout our curriculum, students are encouraged to explore, process, and reflect, both together and as individuals. This engaging process enables our students to progressively develop and apply substantive and disciplinary knowledge, demonstrate critical thinking and reasoning skills, whilst also continually bringing growth to their social, moral, spiritual and cultural awareness and values.

Our curriculum model presents a skilfully sequenced, comprehensive, and coherent knowledge pathway, promoting an intrinsic growth mindset and broadening the horizons of all students, thus leading them to success at GCSE and beyond. Each unit has been crafted to immerse students in the breadth and depth of British history and historical themes, whilst also linking through the fused incremental development of substantive and disciplinary knowledge, delivering an automaticity and fluency of key historical knowledge and concepts through repeated encounters. Thus, we ensure that our lessons are driven by three fundamentals of successful historical learning.

  1. Historical Knowing: interlinked growth of fingertip and residue knowledge and the development of a broad awareness and understanding of chronology.
  2. Historical Thinking: helping students to progressively make sense of the ‘substance’ of history through the application of second-order historical concepts and an immersion in historical evidence, enabling the analysis and evaluation of how the past may be constructed and interpreted differently. 
  3. Historical Communication: immersing students in historical language and equipping them with the tools to communicate both written and orally, a range of small, medium, and extended responses to specific enquires.

KS3 at Park High School: Our students are provided with a broad, rich and balanced exposure to the Historical events that have shaped Britain and the world around them from before 1066, through to the present day. Each of our enquiries is founded by distinct substantive knowledge, and themes including religion, society, power and cultural encounters, whilst continually building disciplinary knowledge in preparation for future endeavour. All students are encouraged to formulate their own opinions and judgements on the past and to make regular links to the modern world, thus promoting continual growth in cultural capital and an embedded intrinsic ambition to broaden their horizons.

KS4 at Park High School: Students follow the study of a Thematic, World Period, British and Modern Depth study. The chosen topics ensure students have a rich understanding of key events and developments in British history, whilst also engaging in wider world histories and their interconnections with the world around them. The GCSE course tests students on their ability to demonstrate knowledge and understanding, explain and analyse historical events, interpret primary sources and interpretations and to make substantiated judgements. Thus, students will be driven to consolidate and extend their historical learning from Key Stage Three, to reach their full potential as reasoned and articulate historians.

A high-quality history education will help pupils gain a coherent knowledge and understanding of Britain’s past and that of the wider world. It should inspire pupils’ curiosity to know more about the past. Teaching should equip pupils to ask perceptive questions, think critically, weigh evidence, sift arguments, and develop perspective and judgement. History helps pupils to understand the complexity of people’s lives, the process of change, the diversity of societies and relationships between different groups, as well as their own identity and the challenges of their time.


Key Stage 3

At Key Stage 3, the national curriculum for history aims to ensure that all pupils: 

  • know and understand the history of these islands as a coherent, chronological narrative, from the earliest times to the present day: how people’s lives have shaped this nation and how Britain has influenced and been influenced by the wider world.
  • know and understand significant aspects of the history of the wider world: the nature of ancient civilisations; the expansion and dissolution of empires; characteristic features of past non-European societies; achievements and follies of mankind.
  • gain and deploy a historically grounded understanding of abstract terms such as ‘empire’, ‘civilisation’, ‘parliament’ and ‘peasantry’.
  • understand historical concepts such as continuity and change, cause and consequence, similarity, difference and significance, and use them to make connections, draw contrasts, analyse trends, frame historically-valid questions and create their own structured accounts, including written narratives and analyses.
  • understand the methods of historical enquiry, including how evidence is used rigorously to make historical claims, and discern how and why contrasting arguments and interpretations of the past have been constructed.
  • gain historical perspective by placing their growing knowledge into different contexts, understanding the connections between local, regional, national and international history; between cultural, economic, military, political, religious and social history; and between short- and long-term timescales.


Each unit is assessed through a variety of classwork, homework tasks and formal assessment. Assessments, both formative and summative, are designed to incorporate testing of both substantive and disciplinary knowledge. Student progress is then reported home to parents via the termly student tracker.


Key Stage 4

At Key Stage 4 we follow the Pearson Edexcel History Specification.

The Edexcel GCSE aims to:

  • develop and extend their knowledge and understanding of specified key events, periods and societies in local, British, and wider world history; and of the wide diversity of human experience
  • engage in historical enquiry to develop as independent learners and as critical and reflective thinkers
  • develop the ability to ask relevant questions about the past, to investigate issues critically and to make valid historical claims by using a range of sources in their historical context
  • develop an awareness of why people, events and developments have been accorded historical significance and how and why different interpretations have been constructed about them
  • organise and communicate their historical knowledge and understanding in different ways and reach substantiated conclusions.

Exam Content

Paper 1: Thematic study and historic environment — 1 hour 15 minutes, 52 marks, 30% of total GCSE grade.

  • Thematic study: Medicine in Britain, 1250–present
    • Students answer three questions that assess their knowledge and understanding. The first two questions are compulsory. For the third question, students answer one from a choice of two.
  • Historic environment: The British sector of the Western Front, 1914–18: injuries, treatment and the trenches
    • Students answer a question that assesses their knowledge, followed by a two-part question based on two provided sources.

Paper 2: Period study and British depth study — 1 hour 45 minutes, 64 marks, 40% of total GCSE grade.

  • Period Study: The American West, 1835–1895
    • Students answer three questions that assess their knowledge and understanding. The first two questions are compulsory. For the third question, students select two out of three parts.
  • British depth study: Early Elizabethan England, 1558-88
    • Students answer a single three-part question that assesses their knowledge and understanding. The first two parts are compulsory. For the third part, students select one from a choice of two.

Paper 3: Modern depth study — 1 hour 30 minutes, 52 marks, 30% of total GCSE grade.

  • Weimar and Nazi Germany, 1918–39
    • Section A: Students answer a question based on a provided source and a question that assesses their knowledge and understanding.
    • Section B: Students answer a single four-part question, based on two provided sources and two provided interpretations.

Religious Studies

The intent of the Religious Studies department at Park High School is to support pupils' personal search for meaning, by engaging in enquiry into the question 'what is it to be human?'- exploring answers offered by religion and belief.  We seek to raise curiosity and enhance the life experiences of our young people, equipping them the skills to tackle this lifelong quest for meaning.

Our curriculum supports all individuals in their search to make sense of the many complex issues young people face within their local, national, and global communities. The skills and attitudes developed through our curriculum encourages our students to make a significant and positive contribution to promoting British values within the diverse communities that they live.

The curriculum at Park aims to be broad, balanced, and inclusive. At Key Stage three we offer a strong foundation for students to develop their understanding of the world’s living religious traditions, following the Lancashire Agreed Syllabus, including the beliefs and practices which lie at the heart of these traditions. This key stage offers an engaging, appropriate, and accessible pathway into Year 9 when all pupils complete the AQA GCSE Religious Studies A full course.

The skills acquired and developed through the Religious Studies curriculum are essential for Religious Studies and are transferable across many other subject areas:

  • To analyse and contextualize information
  • To synthesise and justify views on a variety of different issues
  • To show coherent understanding of teachings and issues
  • To evaluate personally and critically beliefs and concepts

At Park, the Religious Studies department has developed a creative and dynamic learning journey which inspires and develops a natural curiosity about religion and contemporary global issues. Our schemes of work allow students to develop, deepen and apply their knowledge both in and outside the classroom.


Key Stage 3

At KS3, pupils follow the Lancashire Local Agreed Syllabus, ‘Searching for meaning’ which seeks to support pupils’ personal search for meaning by engaging enquiry into the question, 'what is it to be human?' - exploring answers offered by religion and belief.”

The exploration of 'What does it mean to be human?' consists of the following four areas:

  • Shared human experience - the nature of human being
  • Living religious tradition - principal religious traditions encountered in the world
  • Beliefs and values - which lie at the heart of these traditions
  • The search for personal meaning – a lifelong quest for understanding

The curriculum for Religious Studies aims to ensure that all pupils can:

  • Investigate and explain the differing impacts of religious beliefs and teachings on individuals, communities and societies.
  • Investigate and explain why people belong to faith communities and explain the reasons for diversity in religion.
  • Apply a wide range of religious and philosophical language consistently and accurately.
  • Enquire into and interpret forms of religious and spiritual expression.
  • Express their own beliefs, ideas and insights into the significance of religious and other world views on human communities.
  • Reflect on and evaluate their own and others’ beliefs about issues of community.

Religious Studies Skills:

  • Analyse and contextualise information
  • Synthesise and justify views on a variety of different issues
  • Demonstrate coherent understanding of teachings and issues
  • Evaluate personally and critically different beliefs and concepts


Each unit is assessed through a variety of classwork and homework tasks, together with a formative assessment at the end of each half-term. Assessments are designed to incorporate testing of both substantive and disciplinary knowledge. Student progress is then reported home to parents via the termly student tracker.


Key Stage 4

At Key Stage 4 we follow the AQA Religious Studies A:8062 Specification.

The AQA GCSE aims to:

  • Develop their knowledge and understanding of religions and non-religious beliefs.
  • Develop their knowledge and understanding of religious beliefs, teachings and sources of wisdom and authority, including through their reading of key religious texts, other texts and scriptures of the religions they are studying
  • Develop their ability to construct well-argued, well-informed, balanced and structured written arguments, demonstrating their depth and breadth of understanding of the subject.
  • Reflect on and develop their own values, belief, meaning, purpose, truth and their influence on human life.
  • Reflect on and develop their own values, beliefs and attitudes in the light of what they have learnt and contribute to their preparation for adult life in a pluralistic society and global community.

Exam Content

Component 1: The study of religions: beliefs, teachings and practices

• Written exam: 1 hour 45 minutes

• 96 marks, plus 6 marks for spelling, punctuation and grammar (SPaG)

• 50% of GCSE


• Key beliefs

• Jesus Christ and salvation

• Worship and festivals

• The role of the church in the local and worldwide community


• Key Beliefs

• Authority

• Worship

• Duties and festivals

Component 2: Thematic studies

• Written exam: 1 hour 45 minutes

• 96 marks, plus 3 marks for spelling, punctuation and grammar (SPaG)

• 50% of GCSE

Four religious, philosophical and ethical studies themes

• Theme A: Relationships and families.

• Theme B: Religion and life.

• Theme D: Religion, peace and conflict.

• Theme E: Religion, crime and punishment.


Questions: Each theme has a common structure of one five-part question of 1, 2, 4, 5 and 12 marks. Each theme is marked out of 24.