The John Fisher School


“Not to know what happened before you were born is to remain forever a child”  (Cicero)

The History Department

  • Tanya Smith: MA, BA (Hons), PGCE - Subject Leader
  • Dominic Fell: BA (Hons), PGCE - KS3 Co-ordinator,
  • Joseph Dawkins: BA (Hons), PGCE
  • Philip Johnson: BA (Hons), PGCE

History at The John Fisher School

Visitors to the Historical Association's website will be able to view the documentary film made by John Fisher students on the historical significance of Croydon Airport. The project, lead by Miss Smith - Head of History, enabled the boys to get to grips with a local history project. Over several months students were involved in research and oral history training, allowed them to interview local residents who had memories of the aerodrome in its heyday. In addition, students had professional training in how to operate film cameras and sound recording equipment in preparation for making the documentary.

The project was made possible as a result of £14000 funding from the Heritage Lottery and the Historical Association, leading to the completion of the documentary film in association with the Croydon Airport Society and the Bourne Society.

Memories of Croydon Airport Film

Year 9 Battlefields Visit

It is essential that students understand the broad structural forces behind historical change, but there must also be a strong human element to the subject. Students should be able to explore complexities of ideas and attitudes and of individual choice and action, to see historical actors as human beings not just products of structural or material factors.  They should understand different perspectives not just of the rich and famous but also of the poor and obscure. Once armed with the right critical tools students should be able to ask the questions to help them to make sensible judgements about the validity and authenticity of the differing perspectives on the past. They need to have an understanding of how history is constructed and communicated and to recognise that history itself can be harnessed and misused.  The real challenge is to combine this understanding and these skills with an approach which maintains the student’s curiosity, imagination and engagement.  The large numbers of students opting for GCSE and A level and the consistent high level of performance in national exams is testament to our innovative and effective methodology.

Presenting opportunities for students to see the wider function of history is important to us.  We take part in national competitions and have won the Historical Association's Young Historian's Project and the Historical Fiction competition in past years. We run a weekly History Club: which covers anything from tracing family history, to aircraft model making and our lunchtime History Film Club helps to develop students aware of the advantages and pitfalls of this genre. We have staged a whole school Historical Food Fayre and a Spanish Armada Re-enactment Day. In 2011 we were awarded £12,600 from the Heritage Lottery Fund and £1000 from the Historical Association to fund an oral history intergeneration project.  In partnership with the Airport Visitor Centre and the Bourne Society (the largest local history society in England) we produced a film about the significance of Croydon Airport. We consistently challenge and question national myths and perceived ideas about our heritage and identity, for example, we use assemblies to vote on the abolition of monarchy and the wearing of a red or white poppy. We visit local sites such as Chaldon Church and Morden Mosque, in addition to other national and international sites - such as Canterbury Cathedral, the First World War Battlefields, Auschwitz and Berlin.

Programmes of Study

Year 7 History

  • Do you have the skills to be a Historian?
  • What was life like in the Middle Ages?
  • Why was 1066 a turning point in British history?
  • Why was Thomas Becket murdered?
  • Was King John a bad King?
  • How were people affected by the Black Death?
  • Why did the Peasants revolt in 1381?
  • Why did people support Owain Glyn Dwr?
  • Why did Christians and Muslims fight each other?

Year 8 History

  • Who were the Tudors?
  • What happened when Henry VIII took control of the Church?
  • What problems did Elizabeth face?
  • How did Charles I lose control?
  • Why did Parliament win the English Civil War?
  • Why do Historians disagree about Oliver Cromwell?
  • Why was there an Industrial Revolution in Britain?
  • How were Children treated in factories?

Year 9 History

  • What can Jack the Ripper tell us about Victorian England?
  • Should we be proud of the British Empire?
  • Why did a murder lead to a world war?
  • Were the soldiers ‘Lions led by Donkeys’?
  • What caused World War Two?
  • What was the most important turning point of the war?
  • Why is it important to remember the Holocaust?
  • Who shot President Kennedy?

GCSE (Years 10 & 11)

The AQA History course covers The Cold War, Britain at War, The Vietnam War, Weimar Germany and the Rise of Hitler. The students study the Unit 1 Module on the Cold War and the Controlled Assessment on Britain at War in Year 10. In Yr 11 they move onto Weimar Germany and the Rise of Hitler and our trip to Berlin in February compliments this part of the course. The final unit is the Vietnam War.  All units are examined in the Summer of Yr 11. All units test source work skills and require students to use their own knowledge when examining the validity and reliability of sources.

GCE AS Level (Year 12)

The French Revolution and the rule of Napoleon 1774-1815


  • The causes of the French Revolution from 1774 and the events of 1789
  • The Revolution from October 1789 to the Directory 1795
  • Napoleon Bonaparte to 1807
  • The decline and fall of Napoleon 1807-1815


Britain 1930-1997


Enquiry Topic: Churchill 1930-1951

  • Churchill's view of events 1929-1940
  • Churchill as wartime Prime Minister
  • Churchill and international diplomacy 1939-1951


British Period Study 1951-1997


  • Conservative domination 1951-1964
  • Labour and Conservative governments 1964-1979
  • Thatcher and the end of consensus 1979-1997
  • Britain's position in the world 1951-1997

GCE A2 Level (Year 13)

Britain and Ireland 1791-1921

Thematic Study: Britain and Ireland 1791-1921

  • Opposition to the Union
  • Support for the Union
  • The Union and reform
  • The Irish economy and the link to Irish Nationalism

Depth Studies: Britain and Ireland 1791-1921

  • Irish Rebellions and the British Responses 1791-1803
  • O-Connell and the British Governments 1823-1841
  • The Crisis over Home Rule 1908-1914

Coursework: Topic based essay (3000-4000 words)

This will arise out of the content studied elsewhere in the course