History has a privileged position in the Heritage curriculum. This is because so many other subjects (Science, Literature, Geography, Music, Art, Religious Studies, etc.) need to be related in various ways to the past to be understood. A broad historical perspective is also critical for intelligent citizenship and as a foundation for life long learning.
In our Junior School, every classroom has a timeline around the room, upon which new pictures are placed throughout the year to help pupils visualise how historical events relate to one another. Our hope is that they will gradually internalise this timeline, and keep adding to it over the years, and that they will develop an increasingly well-textured grasp of different periods of history.
Another unique focus at Heritage, particularly up through Year 6, is upon narrative history. Rather than disconnected bits of knowledge, history is best learned through reading the story of history in chronological order. Our Juniors read through a four volume history of the world over four years, focussing upon the ancient world, the middle ages, the early modern period, and the modern period. In a typical lesson, a chapter is read aloud and then pupils narrate orally or in writing what they have just heard. Juniors keep a Book of Centuries, split into three sections – ancient world, middle ages, modern world – which is then filled up in chronological order with written narrations, maps, and pictures over four years. The Book of Centuries is cross-curricular: entries are made about authors, composers, scientists and artists as well.
In the Senior School, we emphasise the analysis, interpretation and use of source material to answer historical questions. A broadly chronological approach re-starts, with a focus upon the ancient world in Year 7 and upon the middle ages in Year 8. From Year 9, pupils study key events and developments of the 19th and 20th centuries, such as the expansion and end of European overseas empires and the rise of tension in Europe, which provides the context for the IGCSE course commencing towards the end of Year 9. The IGCSE course focuses upon: the origins and course of WWI, the development of international organisations between 1919 and 2000, the development of dictatorship in Germany between 1918 and 1945, and Civil Rights in the USA between 1945 and 1974. The IGCSE syllabus we use is: Edexcel International GCSE History (4HI0).
Our youngest pupils learn about different countries around the world through hands on experiences, such as trying on saris and silks from India, grinding up aromatic spices, or dancing to the rhythm of African drums. Parents who have lived in other countries often contribute to such sessions. Map skills are developed, for example, by looking at journeys fictional characters have taken, marking a route on a map of the Botanical Gardens and writing directions to get around the school. Reading stories from the four countries making up Great Britain and identifying key landmarks within Cambridge helps familiarise pupils with their own country. The names of continents and seas are learned through song. Physical land forms, such as the highest mountain and or the longest mountain range, are identified and explored as are, for example, the differences between a pond, a lake and a river.
In our Junior School, we focus in greater depth upon knowledge of capitals, countries, water forms and land forms. We expect pupils to memorise these geography facts, with help from songs where possible. In Year 5, for instance, all the countries of Africa and Asia are learned over the course of the three terms. In addition, pupils look at what life is like in the countries and continents they are studying. Travel writing, letters, leaflets, and journal entries all give them an opportunity to engage with different cultures in a personal way.
Pupils studying Geography in the Senior School learn to collect, analyse, present and interpret primary and secondary data. They learn how to use a large variety of maps, how to think critically and analytically, and how to solve problems and be good team players. We cover a wide range of topics from human and physical geography including: river, coastal and hazardous environments; economic activities and energy; ecosystems and rural environments; urban environments; fragile environments; and globalisation and development. Senior Geography pupils also enjoy a number of fieldwork trips to rivers, coasts, farms and cities where they collect and later analyse their data. These are always a lot of fun and are very enriching.
The IGCSE syllabus we follow is: Edexcel International GCSE Geography (4GE0).
Religious Studies supports the Christian ethos of Heritage School without excluding other philosophies and faiths. The key objective of our Religious Studies curriculum is to encourage our students to think for themselves about life’s biggest questions.
One way this is facilitated is through Bible readings. We think all pupils should be familiar with the main stories and themes of it, given its historical and cultural significance. Readings of Old and New Testament stories take place most days throughout the school, after which Infant and Junior pupils narrate (tell back) what they have just heard. Christian beliefs, values and history are explored by our Juniors through the reading of a biography of an inspiring Christian each year.
Respecting other beliefs, traditions and ways of life is vital in our multicultural society. In Year 4 pupils begin learning about other monotheistic faiths, first Judaism in Year 4 and then Islam in Year 5. Year 6 pupils learn about the beliefs and practices of Buddhists and Hindus, with an emphasis upon key stories.
In the Senior School, our curriculum is designed around challenging questions which encourage pupils to examine presuppositions and think through what they do and do not believe to be true. Atheism and agnosticism play an important part in our lessons, as do all the major religions represented in Britain.
Year 9 has a more philosophical approach as we begin the IGCSE course. The fluctuating relationship between science and religion is a particular focus. In Year 10 the exam course continues with a shift to look at morality and society. Various issues are discussed in connection with Christian and Muslim views in this context. Finally, in Y11 we draw together some conclusions about belief and living a religious life.
The IGCSE syllabus we follow is: Edexcel International GCSE Religious Studies (4RS0).