Welcome to the History Department

Our Department Vision

A people without the knowledge of their past history, origin and culture is like a tree without roots - Marcus Garvey

The History department at Copthall aims to actively engage students and make their study of history interesting and enjoyable.  We want students to be able to evaluate and analyse information, to ask questions, and very importantly to think for themselves.  The history curriculum is broad and diverse and the department encourages students to make links between historical and present day events, so they can make sense of the world around them.  We have the highest expectations of all students so that each student achieves the highest possible level of attainment of which they are capable.  We aim to provide students with the skills to succeed in the future, and to inspire a life-long love of learning.

How do we embed the school values?

Respect – to demonstrate respect when learning about different beliefs and cultures and listen to everyone’s ideas.

Equality for all – to learn about discrimination and injustices in the past to prevent future prejudice.

Support and Safety – to encourage all students to ask questions, learn from mistakes, listen to and support each other in a safe, mixed ability learning environment

Aspiration – To have the highest expectations of all students so that each student can achieve the highest possible level of attainment of which they are capable.  To encourage students to think for themselves and make links between their learning and both the past and present world.

Responsibility – to insist that students take responsibility for their learning, are engaged in lessons, and ask questions.  To encourage students to use their historical skills to question the validity of sources, for example on social media.

The Curriculum Leader may be contacted via email


Key Stage 4 GCSE History A – Explaining the Modern World

Key Stage 5 - A Level History


In the history department, we aim to develop students’ understanding of the topics they study and the world in which they live.  GCSE students currently visit Kenilworth castle in Warwickshire as part of their study of the historical environment.  A Level students visit relevant sites in London including the Houses of Parliament and the Banqueting House and we hope to offer a trip to Paris.  We organise workshops for students, for example in conjunction with the Museum of London.  The department also runs the Magistrates mock trial which gives team members an insight into the law.

Careers & Employment

Studying History gives students a variety of skills relevant to many types of employment, such as the ability to seek information and analyse it in order to identify facts and motives and to present information clearly for others to understand.

These skills are very useful in a wide range of careers, either directly related to history (e.g. working in museums, galleries, heritage sites, record offices and archives and teaching), or in areas such as law, journalism, business, accountancy, libraries, national and local government and the civil service.

Why Study History

Recommended Reading

Refugee Boy by Benjamin Zephaniah. 

A victim of the war between Ethiopia and Eritrea, Alem finds himself alone in England, abandoned by his parents. This story charts his fate as he is moved from children's home to foster home, and in and out of court hearings.

Small Island by Angela Levy

Andrea Levy was born in London, England in 1956 to Jamaican parents. She is the author of four novels, each of which explore - from different perspectives - the problems faced by black British-born children of Jamaican emigrants.

Anita and me by Meera Syal

The story of nine-year-old Meena, the daughter of the only Punjabi family in the Midlands' mining village of Tollington. The novel provides a vision of British childhood in the 1960s, a childhood caught between two cultures, each on the brink of enormous change.

My Story: Suffragette by Carol Drinkwater

In 1909 Dollie is swept up in the thrill of the women's suffrage campaign, marching with the WSPU and waving banners. She's proud to be a part of a movement that is fighting to make a difference with the famous Emmeline Pankhurst – but when the protests turn violent, will she have the courage to stand up for the cause?

The boy in the striped pyjamas by John Boyne

This novel is about the unlikely friendship that forms between the son of a Nazi commandant and a young Jewish prisoner living in a Nazi concentration camp.

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

Set during World War II in Germany, Markus Zusak's ground breaking novel is the story of Liesel Meminger, a foster girl living outside of Munich. With the help of her accordion-playing foster father, she learns to read and shares her stolen books with her neighbours during bombing raids as well as with the Jewish man hidden in her basement before he is marched to Dachau.

Destined to witness: Growing up black in Nazi Germany by Hans Massaquoi

This is the biography of Hans Massaquoi. The son of a white German nurse and a wealthy Liberian, he describes his experiences and survival in Nazi Germany at a time when being different often meant death. The story of how Hans survived physically and psychologically in a country consumed by racial hatred is a compelling and inspiring testament to the human spirit.

The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory

Mary and Anne Boleyn are sent to the court of Henry VIII to attract the attention of the king, who first takes Mary as his mistress and then Anne as his wife.

A level reading recommendations:

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

Harper Lee's Pulitzer Prize-winning masterwork of honour and injustice in the deep South - and the heroism of one man in the face of blind and violent hatred.

Killers of the King by Charles Spencer

Find out what happened to the regicides – the men who signed Charles 1st’s death warrant.

Citizens: A chronicle of the French Revolution by Simon Sharma

A social, cultural, and political history of the momentous events in France. Includes accounts of private and public lives to help see the reality of the revolution.

Dreams from my father by Barack Obama

Written nearly fifteen years before becoming president, Dreams from My Father is an unforgettable read. It illuminates not only Obama's journey, but also our universal desire to understand our history and what makes us who we are.

The autobiography of Malcolm X

The Black leader discusses his political philosophy and reveals details of his life, shedding light on the ideas that enabled him to gain the allegiance of a still growing percentage of the Black population

Beloved by Toni Morrison

Beloved is a 1987 novel by the American writer Toni Morrison. Set after the American Civil War, it tells the story of a family of former slaves whose Cincinnati home is haunted by a malevolent spirit.

The Help by Kathryn Stockett

The Help, Kathryn Stockett's debut novel, tells the story of black maids working in white Southern homes in the early 1960s in Jackson, Mississippi.


Useful websites



These two podcasts are great to widen and enrich your historical knowledge.  Both are available on BBC Sounds.

You’re Dead to Me

The history podcast for people who don't like history... and those who do. Greg Jenner brings together the best names in comedy and history to learn and laugh about the past. 

Witness History – History as told by the people who were there.

N.B. You will need to ask your teacher for a password and login name for the Activehistory site.

Useful websites for the First World War

Useful websites for Britain's Empire and Multicultural Britain

Useful websites for A Level History

Useful websites for A Level Paper 1

Useful websites for A Level Paper 2

Useful websites for A Level Paper 3

Other useful websites