Throughout the school, from Reception to Year 8, we have introduced a thematic approach to learning in Humanities lessons. The themes broadly fall under the headings of Geography and History, and the emphasis is on providing pupils with a sense of place and a sense of purpose.  We want pupils’ understanding of contemporary issues to be informed by a coherent narrative that will enable them to appreciate both their place in an ongoing story and the responsibilities they have when it comes to writing the next chapters.

From Reception to Year 4, we have introduced, a new thematic primary curriculum developed by Sir Mark Grundy in partnership with Hodder Education.  Each theme includes a driving question to frame learning and to provide a bigger picture view. For example, for the theme ‘Amazing Islands’, the children will seek to answer the question ‘Are humans improving the world?’

In Years 5 to 8, we have developed bespoke thematic programmes of study. In Years 7 and 8, the themes reach across the curriculum, so, for the theme of Conflict for example, whilst learning about the Crimean War in Humanities lessons the children learn about Florence Nightingale’s Rose Diagrams in Maths, and whilst studying the Boer War, the children read Thomas Hardy’s Drummer Hodge and The Man He Killed in English.

Developing independent study skills is an integral part of Humanities lessons in Years 7 and 8, and at the end of Year 8, the children complete the ISEB Project Qualification. This new qualification requires the children to come up with their own research question and then answer that question, applying the research skills and critical thinking skills they have developed during their final years at Vinehall. The research questions chosen last year included ‘Is space exploration a waste of money?’, ‘Were witch trials a medieval form of discrimination against women?’, and ‘Can money buy you happiness?’