All boys study History until the end of the Upper Third. Normally about 160 boys opt to take History to GCSE, and around 170 boys study History or Politics in the Sixth Form. We currently have 110 boys in the Lower Sixth and 60 in the Upper Sixth. The Department has ten full-time teachers, including two members of the school Senior Management Team.
The History and Politics Department aims to enthuse and challenge the boys at all ages, and to foster a love for the subject. Through a process of investigation, study and questioning, the boys will be able to work independently, and to argue cogently and in a well-informed manner. Their powers of verbal and written expression will be developed and they will have a fuller understanding of the past, and our place in society and the world today. This is all coupled with a constant aspiration for academic excellence and preparation for public examinations, university courses and the world of work.
In the Lower School, the Department broadly follows the National Curriculum. We study the Ancient Greeks and Romans, the Middle Ages, Tudor and Stuart England, and the Agricultural and Industrial Revolutions, followed by the First and Second World Wars and the Inter War years. At GCSE, we follow the CIE IGCSE syllabus, which has three units: International Relations 1919-91; Germany 1918-45; and a coursework unit based on Germany 1918-45. At A Level, we study the Edexcel A Level; Russia 1917-1991, China 1949-76, Britain and the Experience of Warfare 1789-1918 and a coursework unit based on either Russia or China. We also offer and encourage the highly successful IB History course, where boys study International Relations 1918-36, The Causes and Consequences of Wars, Nineteenth and Twentieth Century World and European history and also complete a coursework unit on a topic of their choice.
Whitgift's History students also write and produce an annual History and Politics magazine, PRAVDA! to explore new interests and to challenge others to expand their knowledge of the study of the past. Please enjoy our latest edition.
In 2017, the A* to B rates at GCSE History, A2 Level History and Politics, were all above 95%. At IB, 100% of the boys achieved a 6 or 7.
In the Lower First, the boys visit the Ancient Roman sites at St Alban’s. The Upper First visit the Tower of London, and, in the Lower Third, Hampton Court. In the Upper Third, there is a three-day visit to the sites of the First World War in France and Belgium. In the Fifth Form, Berlin is visited for a week, whilst the Sixth Form visit New York and Washington. In addition, there are trips to the Houses of Parliament and the UK Supreme Court.
The Department has a long tradition of Oxbridge success. Many boys also go on to read History, Politics, or related degree subjects, at Russell Group universities. In the past three years we have had over 40 boys successfully apply to university for History, Politics or International Relations.
Visiting Speakers and the History Society
The Department invites academics, politicians and those studying History or Politics at university, to talk to the boys. In addition, there is a thriving History Society that encourages the boys to make presentations, runs a University Challenge style annual competition, has teaching staff giving presentations, and works to foster a love for both History and Politics. The Department also runs a Model United Nations programme, allowing the boys to think and debate about current world issues.