Miss O Crummay, BA Hons, PGCE, Msc (Oxon)
Head of History
“We are not makers of History; we are made by History.”
Martin Luther King, Jr’
Colfe’s History Department lives and breathes History, not least because of its unique link to the Second World War in that the school took a direct hit from a Nazi rocket in 1944 – this captivates and fascinates our young historians. The History syllabus at Colfe’s studies some of the most significant events and people in British and World History over the past 2,000 years. It aims to inspire a passion for the subject, which enables our young historians to see how the past is being used- or abused- to justify people’s actions in the present.
We provide pupils with opportunities to engage in handling and questioning the record that the past has left behind – developing hypotheses, testing and proposing different types of claims about the past by using sources as supporting, modifying or refuting evidence. This ability to take a critical approach to perceived wisdom is an incredibly valuable skill that nurtures a respect for truth, an understanding of valid argument and a recognition that historical knowledge is organised in terms of the nature of the questions asked. We regularly use role play and re-enactment in our lessons to truly bring the past to life.
History is the study of people: their hopes and aspirations, their problems and achievements and their expressions and beliefs. As such, we investigate key but controversial leaders such as William the Conqueror, King John, Elizabeth I, Nikita Khrushchev and Winston Churchill. This allows pupils to engage in enthusiastic debates about how they should be remembered and investigate events that were influenced by ‘ordinary people’; Year 11 for example grapple with ‘Power and the People’ investigations; how political protest has been influenced by varied factors such as war, religion and the economy over time.
Our studies take us beyond the classroom with visits to sites of historical significance from the Cabinet War Rooms, to the Berlin Wall, or Sachsenhausen concentration camp. To commemorate the special link between Colfe’s and the Leathersellers’, all Year 7 discover the story of Colfe’s through an exciting day trip to the Leathersellers’ Hall. History Film Club evaluates how Hollywood has chosen to represent the past, and our House History competition is a fiercely competitive and enthusiastic experience whereby pupils demonstrate their level of historical knowledge acquired from Year 7-10. We also work closely with Colfe’s CCF unit to mark the commemoration of our 129 Colfeians who fell in the First World War, as well as leading a joint battlefields tour.
Colfe’s School is currently the education partner for the Spitfire AA810 Aerospace Careers Programme, which also seeks to inspire young people and combine History and STEM through the story of Sandy Gunn, a reconnaissance pilot whose rare Spitfire was shot down in the Second World War. Sandy was executed under the orders of Adolf Hitler for his part in the ‘Great Escape’ in 1944, and Colfeian historians have the opportunity to partake in touring workshops about Sandy’s Spitfire and the aerospace industry, as well as visiting a workshop to help build component parts of the crashed Spitfire that hopes to return to flight by 2023. It is these extra-curricular opportunities that we seek to engage our brilliant young thinkers and to provide vital skills and opportunities for the future.
A-level course details: