At Derby High we do History like this...

The Murder of Thomas Becket

Both L4 (Y8) history classes were given the chance this term to choose their own assessment format on the murder of Thomas Becket. 

They began at the start of term with the mysterious story of a man who walked barefoot to Canterbury to be whipped by monks and Bishops.  They did not know who he was, or why he thought he should be punished, or why that punishment should be meted out by the Church.  They researched independently using books not Google, did drama lessons on ‘power’, and acted out Becket’s final moments using various drama techniques. 

Then they made cakes, children’s books, lego models, videos, puppet shows, newspaper articles, pop up books, powerpoint presentations, power dice, songs, poems, mindmaps, a jigsaw puzzle and sound recordings. 

This allowed them to show what creative learners and historians they are!


Edwardian Gentlemen's Tea Party

U5 (Y11) Historians carried out a timeline activity (which explains the washing line in the background) that doubled as an excuse to have an Edwardian gentlemen's tea party.


Niamh's Account of U6 Visit to Watch PMQs

On the 4th March, the 5 of us who study 20th century British Political History at A level travelled down to London to attend Prime Minister's Questions.

We were met at the Houses of Parliament by Chris Williamson, the MP for Derby North (the constituency the school is in) and we were led to the Strangers' Gallery, above the House of Commons.

Many issues were considered during the session, such as immigration and the economy, and it was very interesting to see how the politicians actually react in real life, especially with the election coming up and what the media pick up on. We were surprised to see that what we thought of the session and what the media portrayed were very different things.

After the half an hour of Prime Minister's Questions, we were taken on a tour of the entire Houses of Parliament by Chris. It is fair to say we saw every inch of the place, with the only place not seen being the men’s toilets!

It was incredible to see that all the Prime Ministers we have studied had their own statue around Parliament, making history actually seem real, rather than a story. One thing we all agreed on, despite our different political views, was that Chris has an absolute passion for his job and for the people he represents. This was very encouraging to know, especially with most of us being able to vote for the first time in the upcoming election. However it is fair to say that the best part of the day was seeing Fran’s face light up when she met her favourite politician, the shadow Minister for Health, Andy Burnham; she was like a little girl on Christmas Eve!

Overall, it was a very enjoyable day and one that none of us will be forgetting anytime soon. 


Some photos of our U3 (Y7) trip to Cromford Mill


History Cake-Off

Combining the academic rigour of history as a subject with butter and sugar is a Derby High recipe for success.  

From the Battle of Tannenberg and Marsurian Lakes represented by a sea of blood and now famous words: The old Lie; Dulce et Decorum est, Pro patria mori, to cakes that represented the alliance system that many historians see as a main cause of the ‘Great War’, L5 (Y10) excelled themselves with the range and quality of their WW1 themed cakes. 

Tsar Nicolas II and Kaiser Wilhelm II were depicted as toddlers, sat on the floor surrounded by broken toy soldiers, next to King George V who sat proudly with his toy ship, an indictment of the rivalries between cousins and empires that led to war. 


The futility of trench warfare was cleverly recreated with details of equipment, trench lay outs and soldiers as ‘sitting ducks’ against enemy machine gun fire.


The Brest Litovsk Treaty that Germany made Russia sign in 1918 was represented by a BLT cake, without the bacon, lettuce and tomato, but with the grass and animals that represented the seizing of vital Russian resources and agricultural lands.


One cake dramatically depicted the sinking of the Lusitania, and just in the distance the periscope of a German U-boat. 


The winning cake showed the long term, short term causes and trigger of the war with Franz Ferdinand’s coffin linked by a fuse wire to a globe that had attached to it the labels, ‘Militarism, Alliances, Imperialism and Nationalism’, which when all combined exploded into world war. This scene was set on a bed of camouflage and poppies. 

Mr Maddox had the enviable task of having to choose a winner, for which he was richly rewarded.  With cake.


Defending the Roman Empire

Following in the footsteps of the young Detritus Maximus, our band of brave L4 (Y8) soldiers went into battle in defence of the Roman Empire. 

Using their knowledge of Detritus and his comrades studied over six weeks, L4 used their skills to protect their leaders: Dr Mathews, Mrs Fraser and Mrs Peake, from attack.  Wedges, orbs, repel tactics, and even a tortoise were deployed as battle loomed. 

Armed only with cardboard from home, some tin foil and a lot of poster paint, these formidable military tacticians protected their leaders so that they can go on to teach another day.

Well done them!


Archaeologists for the Day

Back in September all of the U4 (Y9) girls spent the day being archaeologists.  They were archaeologists of the future, mapping the school as though it had been dug up in 3000 years from now. 

They examined why archaeology is rubbish – or at least, why to an archaeologist some of the greatest historical finds were rubbish to those that discarded, but are perfect for unlocking the past.   

The workshop was designed to support their study in class of the Trojan War.  How much of Homer’s Iliad stands up to investigation?  

To help understand the role of archaeologists in asking that very question, the girls spent the majority of the day undertaking a ‘dig’.  The school hall resembled a Time Team set in no time! They painstakingly uncovered artefacts that provided clues as to how the Trojans lived – their beliefs, trades and skills.  From that they created a series of very well put together museum exhibits based on their finds. 

Their work on that day will really serve to enhance their understanding of what we are studying in class and the importance of archaeology when studying the prehistoric.  And it was huge fun, which is always a bonus.