The History department looks for more than simply success in exams, and in a much broader sense aims to teach Tonbridgians to be enquiring and well-informed young men, able to question and understand the world around them.
An excellent History library and collective teaching expertise that covers most periods of history, from Ancient Rome to the Cold War, ensures that during their time at the School, boys study a wide range of topics as well as learning skills of writing and analysis that will be useful whatever they go on to study at university.
In the Novi, boys study a number of different periods and geographical areas in their first two terms, looking at questions such as ‘what was the role of troops from the British Empire in WW1?’, ‘how did de facto segregation continue after the legal victories of the American Civil Rights movement in the 1950s?’ and ‘how did Chinese civilians experience the Cultural Revolution?’. In the summer term, boys examine various factors that have formed the Britain we live in today, such as the growth of LGBT+ rights in the 20th century and the impact that migration has had on modern society. At IGCSE, boys build on the skills they have acquired in the Novi, studying topics such as the League of Nations, appeasement, the Cold War and Germany 1918-45.
In the Sixth Form, we also offer an AQA A-level course with considerable chronological and geographical range. Students study a depth option and a breadth topic, with the former examining the birth of the United States from 1760-1801, and the latter covering the British Empire from 1857-1967. In the Upper Sixth, students also complete a coursework focused on debates about the Crusades.
However, the examined curriculum is only ever a starting point for the boys, and across the age range boys attend History talks put on by boys, teachers and external speakers. Where appropriate, students are taken to one-day conferences relevant to their courses to hear the perspectives of leading academics. We also undertake a number of trips - recent examples have included visits to archives and museums, while the 2022 Michaelmas Term will see trips to Berlin for IGCSE students and a trench reconstruction for the Novi.
There are also opportunities for extended writing and independent research at all levels. All History students are invited to submit articles for the History Department magazine ‘The Boar’, while in the Sixth Form many of the boys write extended projects, some of which are entered for Oxbridge essay competitions. In the last few years, several boys have been commended for entries for the prestigious John Locke Institute, Vellacott and Julia Wood History prizes with topics as diverse as the Court of Henry VIII, Population Growth in early Modern Europe, the Korean War and the British Empire in India.
MSt, University of Oxford
MPhil, PhD, University of Cambridge
MA, University of Southampton