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Welcome to the Humanities Faculty. We are a growing and successful faculty teaching History, Geography, Religious Education and Sociology. The curriculum is delivered throughout the school and to all Key Stages. Our team comprises of a Head of Faculty, Head of Geography, Heads of History (KS5 and Foundation/KS4), Head of Religious Education and Head of Sociology who are ably supported by Curriculum Support staff in a team of twenty-three teachers. The faculty has a strong track record in supporting PGCE and GTP students in successfully completing teacher training as well as providing pre-PGCE placements for prospective teachers.

The number of students choosing History, Religious Studies and Geography at KS4 has been consistently high for a number of years and we expect this to continue.  A-Level numbers have been growing year on year in all subjects, which is evidence of the success of our students and testament to the hard work of all teaching staff in the faculty. Many students continue with Humanities subjects at university, with a number applying to Oxford and Cambridge.

The Foundation Level curriculum (Y7 and 8) is now well connected to KS4 learning and will be assessed on a new scale from 1-9. Year 9s will start the GCSE course and build upon the skills and knowledge that they have acquired from the Foundation Level.

The aim for the faculty over the next year is to build on the already high quality of teaching and learning. There will be a particular focus on high quality feedback for students and allowing the students to improve their work. Numeracy and literacy are thoroughly embedded throughout all four subjects.

Mr M Sutton (Head of Faculty)



The geography team consists of: -

Mr T Hutchinson, Head of Geography and Senior Leader in Education

Mr M Sutton, Head of Humanities Faculty and Senior Leader in Education

Mrs S Elliss, Deputy Headteacher

Miss M Pedder, Head of Year 11

Mr J Tomsett, Curriculum Support for KS4

Mrs L Ashton

Miss I Bourne


At KS5 Year 13 are studying the AQA specification and we look at both the physical and human geography in equal amounts from modules like tectonic hazards to the emergence of world cities across the globe. Students have the opportunity to complete two fieldwork investigations over the two year course, the first going on a fieldtrip to Juniper Hall in Surrey to look at river characteristics of the River Tillingbourne. The second in A2 looks at succession of vegetation in a deciduous woodland in Turkey wood in Amersham.

In Year 12 we have just embarked on the new A Level course that AQA have designed.  This involves studying physical modules like water and the carbon cycle, coastal environments, and tectonic and storm hazards.  The human modules are development and globalisation, contemporary urban environments, and changing places.  As part of their course they are expected to complete 4 fieldwork days. 


At KS4, Year 11 are studying the OCR B specification. The OCR B course gives a broad overview of the human and physical processes in our world, from the local to global scale. Physical modules include: rivers, coasts, and natural hazards. Human modules include: population, settlement, economic activity and development. Students also complete a 2000 word fieldwork focus write up during Year 11.

Our Year 9s and 10s are embarking on the new, AQA Geography GCSE. Similar in many ways to OCR specification, this course seeks to embed more regional Geography and delve deeper into synoptic nature of the places we study. The course involves the following modules:

Year 9 = map skills, development, tourism issue evaluation, UK physical environment, coasts, ecosystems and river landscapes.

Year 10 = urban challenges and issues, river landscapes, cold environments and plate tectonics

Students will also be expected to undertake two days’ worth of fieldwork one a predominantly physical enquiry and one a human enquiry, this will be tested through an examination in Year 11 worth 30%.


At the Foundation level Year 7 will have three lessons over the two week period and Year 8 will have one lesson per week. The topics that we study at Year 7 are Poles Apart, a look at the North Pole and Antarctica, map skills, tropical rainforests, settlement, extreme weather and an independent study on China and India. In Year 8 students study European migration, rivers and flooding, earthquakes, volcanoes and an independent study on the Middle East and Russia.


Foundation = All students are expected to complete one milestone and one extended piece of writing per module.  Both of these pieces will have a DIRT activity linked to improving their work.  They will also have spelling tests and map tests to test their SPAG and map skills.  Homework will be on a weekly basis for yr7 and fortnightly for yr8.

KS4 = All students are expected to complete one milestone (past exam question) and two past exam questions per module.  All three of these will have a DIRT activity linked to improving their work.  In addition students will be set additional examination style questions from their past paper packs for class or homework but these may not always have DIRT related activities linked with them.  They will also have spelling tests, map tests and a Quiz for learning test.  Homework will be on a weekly basis.

KS5 = All students are expected to complete two milestones (past exam question) 4 past exam questions per module.  All six of these pieces will have a DIRT activity linked to improving their work.  In addition students will be set additional examination style questions from their past paper packs for class or homework but these may not always have DIRT related activities linked with them.    They will also have spelling tests and map tests to test their SPAG and map skills.  Homework will be set weekly by each classroom teacher.


KS4 and KS5 - every Wednesday we run a ‘Geography Gym’ session from 3-4pm in H8 to help students with any questions or problems with their class or homework.  This is also a good opportunity to check anything that a student has not understood from their lesson.

Extra-curricular Opportunities

-       Geography Club is run on a Wednesday 3-4pm in H5 by a team of sixth formers.

-       Yr7 Animal Roadshow in class time

-       Yr9 human fieldwork day (TBC)

-       Yr10 physical fieldwork day to River Tillingbourne in Dorking (Field study centre: Juniper Hall)

-       Yr12 fieldwork across Reading investigating the urban heat island effect

-       Yr13 independent fieldwork assignment (TBC)

-       In the past we have run enrichment trips to Iceland and to China.

What skills do students acquire?

Geography is a subject that enables students to describe, explain, analyse and evaluate the world around them in both the physical and human areas that we study. We look at topical issues and evaluate what different groups of people would think about the situation and understand the role of decision makers in shaping our own environment. Geography will strengthen students’ extended writing skills and how they support their points in these written pieces. It will also strengthen students’ ability to interpret and analyse graphs, maps, photos, models, and how to write up a geographical investigation.




The History team consists of:

  • Mrs Hill Co-Head of History, with responsibility for Years 7-11
  •  Mr Stewart Co-Head of History, with responsibility for Years 12-13
  • Mr Bishop, Curriculum support for KS4
  • Mr Jackson
  • Mr Hawthorne, Deputy Head

At Foundation Level, Year 7 students have three lessons over two weeks and in Year 8 students have one lesson per week. The topics that we currently study at Foundation Level are diverse to engage and inspire but skills required at GCSE are also developed and embedded. In Year 7 students study the Romans, Norman Conquest, Black Death, English Reformation, Slavery and English Civil War, as well as a student-led Local History Project. In Year 8 students study Victorians, American Civil Rights, the Holocaust, Terrorism, the Suffragettes and the Qing Dynasty.

At KS4 we are studying the new AQA GCSE History specification covering a period study, thematic study, wider world depth study and a British depth study that includes the historic environment. The topics studied include: Conflict and tension, 1918–1939; Russia, 1894–1945: Tsardom and communism; Health and the people: c1000 to the present day; and Edward I 1272-1307.

At KS5 we are studying the new OCR A Level History A specification covering: England 1547–1603: the Later Tudors; Democracy and Dictatorships in Germany 1919–1963; Civil Rights in the USA 1865–1992 and a 3,000-4,000 topic based essay arising from independent study.

What skills do students acquire?

Students develop key learning skills in History as well as extending their knowledge and understanding of specified key events, periods and societies in local, British, and wider world history. They develop as independent learners and as critical and reflective thinkers; being able to reach substantiated conclusions. Analysis and evaluation are built in to the subject and developed throughout. They also acquire the ability to ask relevant questions about the past, to investigate issues critically and to make valid historical claims by using a range of sources. They learn how and why different interpretations have been constructed and understand how accuracy and reliability affects utility.

Are there any enrichment opportunities?

We have History Club on Tuesdays for Year 7 & 8 students.

We run many support and study skills sessions for GCSE & A Level students, to help them to prepare for their examinations.


Religion and Philosophy


Mr Sutton is the Head of Faculty who oversees the department and the department consists of Miss Jones as the Head of Religion and Philosophy, Mr Greener who is the curriculum support, Mr Thomas who is an Assistant Headteacher, Miss Butler who is Head of Year 12 and Mrs Wakelin who is KS5 enrichment co-ordinator.

We mainly teach in the four R.S. classrooms which all contain interactive whiteboards.


Last year’s cohort achieved 88% A*-C at A2 level and there was a 100% pass rate. On average we have 40 students at AS and 30 students at A2.

In the past our students have gone on to study at Oxbridge universities, some have studied philosophy at university and many go on to careers in law and medicine.

We study OCR at A Level, which consists of three units: Philosophy, Ethics and Buddhism.


Last year our students took their religious studies examination at the end of Year 10 and achieved 86% A*-C, with 41% achieving either an A* or an A. From 2017 until the summer of 2019, this examination will take place at the end of Year 11 alongside their other examinations. For current Year 8 students, this examination will take place at the end of Year 10. All students sit the R.S. GCSE full course examination (approximately 250 students). We study Edexcel Religious Studies B (1RBO), with Unit 1 being ‘Religion and Ethics’ from a Muslim perspective (1RBO/1C) and Unit 2 being ‘Religion, Peace and Conflict’ from a Christian perspective (1RBO/2B). As part of this course students study the beliefs and practices of Christianity and Islam and apply their views to a wide range of ethical subjects relevant in the modern day.


Our Foundation course comprises a range of units which either focus on a world religion (such as Christianity, Islam and Buddhism) or are a thematic study which cover a wide range of world religions (such as our unit called ‘What are festivals all about?’ and the unit ‘What would you choose?’). By the end of Foundation, students be able to explain some key beliefs of all six of the world religions, evaluate a range of statements, persuasively justify their own point of view and show an awareness of diversity within Christianity and Islam.


Homework will mostly be given once a week (for Foundation students this should take approximately 30 minutes and for KS4 students this will take approximately 40 minutes). However, on occasion, a two week homework may be set which will take longer to complete or homework may involve going over work previously learnt in the last lesson.

Typical homework activities include: researching, responding to key questions, rote learning key terminology or spelling, rote learning key beliefs and practices, completing a survey and analysing the results and responding to GCSE questions.

Formative assessments (assessments that are given a fine grade and a target for improvement) are completed in Foundation twice in a unit (one will be a piece of homework which is formatively assessed in the middle of a unit and the other is an assessment will be done at the end of the unit in class). For KS4, students will be formatively assessed twice in each unit (once in the middle of the unit and once at the end of the unit, where students will sit a complete set of a-d GCSE examination questions.) At KS5, a formative milestone will be completed at the end of each unit.


A month or so before the examinations take place, a number of revision sessions will take place either focusing on specific content or examination skills.

Teachers are willing to be asked for appointments at any point if students require extra one-on-one support.

Extra-curricular Opportunities

At the start of each year, Philosophy Club is run for Year 7 and 8 students to encourage them to think more deeply about issues affecting the world around us and question the possibility of ‘another dimension to life’. Also, Amnesty International is run by our Sixth Form students for anyone who wants to help stand up for justice and human rights. In addition, Debate Society is open to any sixth formers who want to get involved in discussing contentious world issues.

The group ‘RE inspired’ come to Maiden Erlegh to discuss the person of Jesus with our whole cohort of Year 7 students, in Year 8 a Buddhist Nun discusses her beliefs with our Year 8 students and in Years 9 and 10 we have speakers from the Christian and Muslim community to reflect on their beliefs and practices. In the past, our A Level students have had the opportunity to attend Oxford Town Hall for a candlelight conference led by Dr Peter Vardy.

Withdrawal from RE

Parents have the right to choose whether or not to withdraw their child from RE without influence from the school, although a school should ensure parents or carers are informed of this right and are aware of the educational objectives and content of the RE syllabus. In this way, parents can make an informed decision. Where parents have requested that their child is withdrawn, their right must be respected, and where RE is integrated in the curriculum, the school will need to discuss the arrangements with the parents or carers to explore how the child’s withdrawal can be best accommodated. If students are withdrawn from RE, schools have a duty to supervise them, though not to provide additional teaching or to incur extra cost. Students will usually remain on school premises.



Our KS5 Sociology Department is led Mr Garner, Head of Department. He is also a specialist leader of education. There are an additional two subject specialists who join him in delivering this highly popular A Level course. Designated classrooms are used, with each complete with interactive whiteboard facilities.

Key Stage 5

Sociology is delivered in Year 12 and Year 13. There are currently over 100 students in Year 12 and 90 students in Year 13. The AQA specification is followed, providing students with the opportunity to study Families & Households, Education, Research Methods, Beliefs in Society, Crime and Deviance (Criminology) and Sociological Theory. Many of our students decide to study Sociology at university. Others opt to study related subjects, including Law, Politics, Psychology, Criminology, Criminal Justice and Human Geography.


It is hoped that students will develop a passion for sociology, but we also want them to succeed! Assessment takes place frequently and involves using past examination-style questions to help monitor progress and achievement. These take place at different times during each half term. Useful feedback always helps to ensure that students make as much progress as possible. Students know that they can seek additional help and support by approaching the department.

Extra-curricular opportunities

We encourage our students to pay a visit to Reading Crown Court. Open days are a useful way of understanding how the criminal justice system operates, and allow students to see trials in progress. Guest speakers relating to our Beliefs in Society and Education unit are also warmly received.


Maiden Erlegh School