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KS4 and GCSE History

KS4 Intent

Why do we teach this?


At Key Stage 4, students follow the Edexcel specification for a GCSE qualification. The Edexcel specification was deliberately chosen as it fits well with the existing Key Stage 3 curriculum and is supported by specific expertise within the department. The paper has a balance of modern and pre-modern topics, focuses on political, religious, economic, and social history and ranges from international to local history.  This means the subject content should appeal to all students considering GCSE History as an option and should also prepare students well for post-16 study in A-Level History, but also subjects such as Politics, Sociology, Economics and Theology.


The specification aims to develop and extend student knowledge and understanding of key events, periods, and societies in local, British, and wider world history, and of the wide diversity of human experience. It engages in historical enquiry to develop students as independent learners and as critical and reflective thinkers. The course enhances the ability of students to ask relevant questions about the past, to investigate issues critically and to make valid historical claims by using a range of sources in their historical context. It also creates an awareness of why people, events and developments have been accorded historical significance and how and why different interpretations have been constructed about them.


KS4 Implementation

What do we teach? What does this look like?


The Key Stage 4 curriculum is an extension of what students have learnt at Key Stage 3 and offers a seamless transition to GCSE. Students at Gartree High School receive three 50-minute lessons in History a week by a specialist exploring four key units. We have considered and designed the order in which the papers are delivered carefully. In Year 10, we study Germany and then the Cold War to give students a chronological understanding of 20th Century events and themes. We also feel these topics allow a supported transition into GCSE History, as they cover topics with which our students are most likely to be already confident. These two papers also allow us to cover the vast majority of examination questions in Year 10. In Year 11, where subject content is more challenging, we are mainly re-visiting these examination questions rather than teaching them as new.

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KS4 Impact

What will this look like?

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  • There are three externally examined papers that examine four major study themes.

  • Majority of students are expected to meet their Gartree Indicator Grade set by the school for the subject.



History 2023 GCSE results

  • 74% attained Grade 4+ (11% above national average)

  • 65% attained Grade 5+ (13% above national average)

  • 32% attained Grade 7+ (7% above national average)

  • Average progress score was 0.66.

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