We believe that children are naturally curious about the past. This curiosity has been nurtured at Junior School, where most pupils have followed a ‘patch’ syllabus, exploring subjects like the Victorians, the Greeks and Romans, British life in the Second World War, and medieval castles. By the time they reach secondary school, most pupils are ready to begin placing their existing historical knowledge and new topics into the context of chronology.

In Key Stage 3 (11-14) we focus on British History, broadly following the guidelines of the national curriculum but scaling it down in order to go into fewer topics more deeply:

  • Year 7: English medieval history, 1066-1485
  • Year 8: The Tudors and Stuarts, 1485-1660; the early British Empire
  • Year 9: The First World War, 1914-18; the British Empire, including slavery and the slave trade, and British India

In most years work in the classroom is supported by field trips such as Goodrich Castle (Year 7), and Harvington Hall (Year 8). Every other year the Department runs a residential field trip to Belgium and France (Years 10 and 11) to study the battlefields of the First World War. All pupils in these year groups are welcome, whether or not they study History. Various opportunities exist at A Level to attend conferences and visit sites relevant to our syllabus.

At GCSE we follow the Edexcel IGCSE syllabus in Modern World History. At the present time the subjects studied are drawn from the following:

  • The First World War
  • America in the ‘Roaring Twenties’
  • The Russian Revolution
  • The Cold War
  • The Development of 20th Century Warfare
  • The History of Medicine

There is no controlled assessment at IGCSE. This gives the History Department more time to concentrate on exam techniques such as essay writing skills and the use of source material.

At A Level we study various 20th Century topics. A course in British History looks at political, economic and cultural developments from 1905 to 1951 (AS Level) and then from 1951 to 2006 (A2 Level). Beyond the UK we study life in Nazi Germany (AS) and American Civil Rights (A2).



Geography is a vibrant and popular subject at St Edward’s. Our lessons focus on current world issues and integrate videos, computers and the Internet to present information in a wide variety of ways. Field work also provides a way of bringing the subject to life. In a typical academic year pupils will not only use the school grounds and the local area for their studies but also get the chance to visit Bristol Harbourside. Trips further afield have included Iceland and Italy.

Topics covered are:

  • Year 7: Atlas and Mapskills. Use of graphs and general fieldskills. Coastal Processes, Climate Change and theme based Environmental Studies.
  • Year 8: Weather and Climate. World Ecosystems. Tropical Rainforests, Deserts, Savanna.
  • Year 9: Natural Hazards. Volcanoes and Earthquakes. River Processes. Case Study of a megacity: Mumbai.


The Geography specification looks at the changing world as it happens and enables pupils to develop observation and enquiry skills that give an understanding of different places.  Much emphasis is placed upon the decision-making processes and the resultant consequences upon the whole environment.  It is the process and distribution of various human activities and physical phenomena that give Geography its distinctive character.

Geographical Information systems (GIS) are now playing a significant role in our daily lives, from broadcast journalism to academics.  Its use along with geographical skills has formed an integral part of the new AQA specification and will enable pupils to study Geography in a 21st Century context.

Paper 1 (35%) Living with the physical environment:

Section A- The Challenge of natural hazards.
Section B- Physical landscapes in the UK.
Section C- The living world.

Paper 2 (35%) Challenges in the human environment:

Section A- Urban Issues and challenges.
Section B- The changing economic world
Section C- The challenge of resource management and energy

Paper 3 (30%) Geographical applications:

Section A- Issue Evaluation, pre-release materials will be studied before the exam.
Section B- Fieldwork, pupils will participate in a one day field trip where they will undertake two geographical enquiries which are examined at the end of year 11.

Religious Studies

Religious Studies offers a fascinating insight into many of the fundamental problems of human existence: into questions which people have pondered and discussed throughout history.

  • Why am I here?
  • Is there a God?
  • Why do people suffer?
  • Will I survive my death?
  • How can I live a good life?

A study of the ways in which thinkers from the past have responded to these (and other) questions can help us to find meaning, purpose and a ‘good life’ ourselves. Dealing with such questions is a life-long task, and there is a wealth of resources from philosophical and religious traditions to help us examine them.

As a Catholic school, RS is both part of the School’s overall Spiritual Life and an academic subject in its own right. All students undertake Religious Studies at St Edward’s.

Our school mission statement gives central position to following RS as an academic discipline.

We seek to:

Instil a deeper knowledge and understanding of the Christian faith from the Catholic perspective.

Promote a reverence for the human person as created in the image of God. We also seek to instil an understanding of the Gospels and other sacred texts and their application to everyday life, so that love of God and one’s neighbour are the pivotal features in each young person’s life.

Discover our religious heritage and the contributions that faith communities make to 21st Century life.

All pupils in Key Stage 4 follow the Edexcel GCSE Syllabus in RS. This course is a study of the Catholic branch of Christianity, Judaism and a look at Philosophy and Ethics. The course is examined at the end of Year 11.

Religious Studies is offered at A-level in which Philosophy, Ethics and the Developments of Christian Thought are studied.

OCR GCE Religious Studies Specification

This is an increasingly popular option for and reflects the national trend for popularity of the subject at Higher Education. Recent successes demonstrate this, with a good number of past pupils going on to study related subjects at university, for example – Theology at Oxford, Philosophy at Manchester, Bristol and Birmingham and PPE at Warwick.

Enrichment activities

A level students are taken on study days at Oxford University.

Longer field trips are periodically organised: there tend to be biennial trips to Rome and Florence.