Hello all. Don’t worry about the subject content of your GCSEs - the main thing we look for is a decent set of historical skills to bring into Year 12. We follow the AQA course and our units are 1H and 2S. You can familiarise yourself the key topics and concepts by looking at their online specification. There are past papers too, if you would like to see the style of paper. Don’t try to have a go at a paper just yet though!
In terms of general skills and as preparation for coursework later, we have a challenge project for you. You need to research a controversial figure from history and write a report on them. You will need to find two historians with differing views and present their arguments. You will then provide evidence, gathered from your wider reading, to tell us which historian’s views you find the most convincing and why. An example would be King John (who I am sure most of you have studied). There are many reports of how terrible a king he was but you may be convinced by a historian who provides evidence to the contrary, especially if you consider that many of his critics were from the Church and you know John was excommunicated…
You should present your evidence clearly as an argument, saying why you believe one view is based upon more convincing evidence than the other and that, whilst you acknowledge the other view has some decent points to make (it is important to give some balance), you must take a side. Please provide a bibliography containing all the books you have read (even part of) and any websites, including date of access. Your historians need a little write-up at the end, giving some background information-where they are from, where they have worked, which books they have had published etc. as well as telling us whether any of that information influenced your view of their argument. If you are stuck for ideas, please email firstname.lastname@example.org but here are some initial suggestions: Oliver Cromwell, Nelson Mandela, Florence Nightingale, Chairman Mao. Enjoy. We look forward to reading them.
For the Russia side of the course, you will need to read “Russia” by Martin Sixsmith. There is a question booklet to go with this, which you can find on the BWS webpage under student resources. We also recommend http://www.alexanderpalace.org/palace/ , which not only has a vast gallery of pictures but also has collections of secret police files on Rasputin. Careful, you could spend ages looking at this site!
On the British side, please read Andrew Marr’s “A History of Modern Britain”. You could also watch the tv series on DVD. You can take a virtual tour of the Houses of Parliament by following this link https://www.parliament.uk/visiting/virtualtour/ and there are a series of excellent lectures on British Prime Ministers on the Gresham website, under the heading “leadership and change” https://www.gresham.ac.uk/search/?terms=leadership+and+change