One of the main reasons for moving to a thematic curriculum for Years 7 and 8 was because we wanted the children to appreciate their place in an ongoing story. In History lessons, we want the children to understand that there is much more to history than learning stories about things that happened a long time ago, regardless of how enthralling those stories might be. Fundamentally, we want the children to appreciate that history isn’t done, that the story isn’t finished.
In the Michaelmas Term, the theme for the Year 7s was Conflict. There is a fundamental difference between learning about the Norman Conquest or the Napoleonic Wars in isolation and learning about conflict in general. The demise of the Anglo-Saxon shield wall as the tactic of choice in northern Europe as a consequence of the victory enjoyed by the mounted Norman knights in 1066 tells us something about a particular time and place, but it does not necessarily help us understand the nature of conflicts more generally, either past and present.
This term, the theme for the Year 7s is Equality and Rights. The children began the term in 1215 with the sealing of Magna Carta at Runnymede. Over the weeks that followed they have learnt about Simon de Montfort’s Parliament of 1265, the Glorious Revolution of 1688 (which might not have been so glorious after all), the abolition movement in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, and the one-hundred year campaign for women’s suffrage. This week the focus has been the civil rights movement in the United States in the 1950s and 1960s.
Recent events mean that this term’s theme has particular resonance, and discussions have obviously broadened to encompass the death of George Floyd and the subsequent protests. Attached are two speeches, one written by Honor F, the other by Olivia S and Francesca F, that seek to answer the question ‘Is political violence ever justified?’ One thing that hopefully comes through from reading the children’s work is that they haven’t been given an answer – we want the children at Vinehall to think for themselves and to form their own opinions, and it is our aim to give them the tools and the confidence to enable them to do so.