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The history department aims to investigate the past to help our students understand and analyse the present. We endeavour to develop passionate, life-long and successful learners of all our history students.

The greatest glory in living lies not in never falling but in rising every time we fall.


 Please also visit the Varndean History google website, with lots of further information on this subject.

Varndean History google website

Why Study this Subject?

In your History lessons you will learn to be a critical thinker, write well and understand the world better. 

Topics of Study and Assignments

In Year 7 History is studied chronologically and thematically with an emphasis on developing skills that will help all students achieve now and in later life. The overall theme in Year 7 is ‘The Creation of Modern Britain’. Year 7 students examine events of 1066 and how this changed Britain forever. Aspects of medieval life are studied before students examine the causes and effects of the Black Death, the Islamic world during this period and finish off by looking at the establishment of the infamous Tudors and Stuarts. In addition They examine the changes and continuity in Britain during the 17th century with a focus on the Civil War.

In Year 8 students study the Making of the Modern World but with an eye on "whether HIStory [sic] is written by the winners".  Furthermore they go on to study how Britain became part of a global society and the challenges this created. Depth studies on World War One and World War Two immerse pupils in the key features of these conflicts. Students also investigate and debate controversial history topics such as the horrors of the enslavement of Africans, the dropping of the atomic bomb and the Holocaust.

Students in Year 9 who have chosen GCSE History will begin a new three year course. The topics are: Medicine through Time; Early Elizabethan England; Germany 1919-39 and Superpower relations.  We start with an overview of the 20th Century before embarking on the thematic study on Medicine and depth study of the British Sector on the Western Front.

In Year 10 and 11 GCSE History students continue their Edexcel GCSE. This includes the remaining topics of Early Elizabethan England, Germany 1919-1939 and Superpower relations 1941-91. Students are assessed in a variety of ways: through analysis of sources, knowledge recall and extended writing.  We balance teaching of knowledge needed with practice of skills for the different requirements of the GCSE.

The Team

Harriet Ward is the Head of History.


Nicola Wright, BA Hons History, University of Sussex, is an experienced History teacher with a long service at Varndean School. She is an examiner, marking GCSE papers and has a commitment to using her knowledge of the GCSE to help support and secure student success in their History GCSE. She is an avid historian both inside and outside of the classroom and continues to develop and build her historical knowledge to aid the design of engaging history lessons for the students in both KS3 and KS4. Nicola is passionate about challenging the traditional versions of history and providing students with thoughtful concepts that counter these ideas.

Dan Flower studied History at the University of Newcastle and completed his PGCE at the University of Sussex eleven years ago. He has a real passion for modern History, especially that of Northern Ireland and has developed A-Level coursework on the 'Troubles' in the past. He has worked alongside the charity 'Facing History and Ourselves' in the past to increase knowledge and understanding of diversity in the classroom.


Toby Hawker studied at the University of Chichester before completing his PGCE at the University of Sussex in 2020. He has a particular focus on diversity in the History we teach approaching history from new perspectives to unlock new stories of the past. In particular Mr Hawker has a focus on the British and Global African Diaspora. He is also a participant in the Grassroots History teaching Conference looking to share ideas across the South East region for more innovative teaching methods; as well as being part of the Climate History teacher group at the University College London to develop the climate curriculum in History. 

Sandra Knights is qualified with a BA in History & English from the University of Brighton. She is interested in intervention and all things teaching and learning. She is currently working on promoting the sharing of excellence and collaboration between teachers using CPD and social media.

Events and Activities

Outside the classroom the history department has run trips to Berlin, World War One sights in Belgium, The Weald and Downland Open Air Museum and visits to London.