Aim: To develop independent research and enquiry skills across the key stages to prepare students for controlled assessment and historical enquiry at GCSE and beyond.

Background: The original aim of the project was to examine how pupils’ perceptions of history and their prior learning at primary school affected their motivation and achievement. However, the opening of a new Sixth Form presented a unique opportunity to create and implement a curriculum from scratch, resulting in a change of direction to develop and embed core research and enquiry skills across KS4 and 5.


Year 1: Pupils’ perceptions of history were explored in the context of GCSE uptake and departmental meetings focused on research and enquiry skills. A collaborative Year 6 and 9 pilot project focused on chronology and historical significance. Primary schools were surveyed revealing a vast range of topics studied. Baseline tests for all new Year 7 pupils, explored subject enjoyment and historical understanding.

Year 2: A pupil programme to improve internet research was planned with the ICT department. Liaison work with three feeder primary schools revealed inconsistencies in the teaching of content and skills. The ‘flipped classroom’ approach, where students research key content before the lesson, was trialled to improve independent learning with Year 11. Gifted and talented Year 9 students worked on a project with a primary feeder school. Feedback from previous Year 9 surveys led to a revamp of the information given to pupils selecting their GCSEs, making explicit the skills and career prospects linked to History.

Year 3: With the opening of the Sixth Form, the project’s focus shifted towards developing research and enquiry skills across KS4-5. Research and preparation activities as part of the flipped classroom model were written into the brand new schemes of work and lesson materials. The flipped classroom model was also incorporated into the GCSE controlled assessment scheme of work.

Evidence: Student surveys, primary school surveys, baseline test results, GCSE and A-Level uptake statistics.

Impact: The flipped classroom approach led to higher levels of motivation in lessons, a greater range of sources used for research and better quality questions asked in class. Various departments in the school also adopted this approach. Questionnaires have given the department an improved understanding of pupils’ perceptions of history and staff have been able to adapt aspects of the curriculum in response. The profile and popularity of the subject in the school has grown and the uptake at GCSE and A-Level remains high:

Reflections: Time is always the greatest challenge in teaching. Scaling down and using a focus primary school helped the research to progress. We have been very pleased with the high uptake at GCSE and A-Level; the issues explored as part of this project have allowed us to reflect on our practice and adapt the delivery of our subject across the key stages. 

Contact: Rebecca Godfrey,