The Humanities faculty is comprised of Economics & Business Studies, Geography, History & Politics and Theology & Philosophy. The range of subjects aim to develop understanding of vital skills, analysis, evaluation, explanation and the ability to communicate effectively in writing and through discussion and debate. Boys have the opportunity to use a range of different learning styles and materials which will develop their ability to learn effectively and help them to learn skills that will be useful in many careers.
As the only department exclusive to Sixth Form students, we pride ourselves on the excellent relationships we build with the boys within the department.
We aim to give all boys an excellent understanding of Economics or Business Studies. In doing so, we aim to develop their written and verbal skills of analysis and evaluation, as well as their subject specific mathematical skills. We are blessed to be teaching one of the most relevant and topical subjects in today’s world. We therefore also aim to make boys fully aware of how their subjects relate to the real world and the current affairs in the news, and hope to give them a real passion for their subject.
Facilities & Resources
Our experienced staff are highly trained in delivering all the courses on offer within the department. The departments teaching resources are continuously updated in order to offer up to date, stimulating material that assist the boys with their learning. Boys are also given comprehensive notes, videos and revision resources via the school’s online learning resource, Firefly, many of which help to take the boys interest and understanding of the subjects beyond the parameters of the syllabuses.
The Department also has an active pupil-led society which hosts lectures and debates, and organises trips and national competition entries.
The Geography department aims to engender a life-long interest in the world around us by providing an engaging learning experience in a supportive environment where both active participation and risk-taking are encouraged.
We aim to equip all boys studying the subject with a variety of skills. By the time they leave the department, at whatever stage that may be, we would expect each boy to: have conducted fieldwork, learned to write in a confident and succinct manner, be capable of coming to informed decisions about the challenges that we face in the twenty-first century, have taken part in a debate(s), have worked collaboratively on projects, have enhanced their verbal presentation skills and to have delivered to other students using a range of software.
We encourage boys to embrace difference and be sensitive to variations across the world in which they live. Boys are encouraged to think creatively as they consider the problems likely to face humanity within their lifetimes and possible solutions to those problems. Through enhancing the research capabilities of our pupils, we hope that they will be able to evaluate sources in a learning environment where the challenge is no longer finding information but determining which information to utilise and trust.
Facilities and Resources
We are situated on the D floor of the main school building with classrooms complemented by a Sixth Form study room and computer suite dedicated to the subject. Six full-time geography specialists work within the department offering a diverse set of interests within the subject.
We offer a range of opportunities for boys to further their interest in the subject and become actively involved beyond the classroom. As the first department to embrace the learning potential of social media, we have a long established blog to which boys can contribute. We also run a Twitter account that looks to help boys gain access to some of the best materials to support their studies or foster an interest in the subject beyond the confines of the syllabus. The department gives several annual prizes and runs competitions for boys: this year all Fourth Form and Lower Sixth boys entered work into the Young Geographer of the Year award through the Royal Geographical Society (RGS).
Our Geography Society regularly takes students to lectures at the Royal Geographical Society in South Kensington, particularly the 21st Century Challenges lecture series held there, whilst other visits take place to talks at institutions such as Cambridge University. As a department, we also put on a number of lectures for geographers in all years, recent highlights have been talks on the epidemiology of Ebola in West Africa, remote sensing and avalanche mitigation, these enable a wide range of boys to gain access to enrichment opportunities; we also host a series of Big Geography Debates, the last of which saw one hundred pupils witness a debate that sought to establish whether globalisation has done more harm than good in our world. Junior boys are also engaged in an additional termly challenge, which looks to stretch them beyond the syllabus.
The department values field trips as an important part of a geography education. We run an annual international field trip, which has been to Iceland on the last two occurrences, coupled with residential trips in the UK at Sixth Form and day trips on more than one occasion at GCSE and in the Fourth Form.
History & Politics
We seek to foster a lasting commitment and love of both History and Politics, and believe that an awareness and understanding of the world in which boys will participate when they leave school is vital.
All boys should develop the ability to critically evaluate the wealth of information which surrounds them every day. They should also be able to function as full citizens in every sense of the word, by understanding the political, economic and social institutions in which they should hope to participate. Subjects such as History and Government and Politics enable them to live as independent, compassionate and thoughtful adults.
Facilities & Resources
The department is housed on the top floor of the main school building where it has a specialist library, which includes many classic works as well as up-to-date texts on the topics taught at all levels. We subscribe to the major historical magazines and these are available for all boys to read. We have a wide range of resources on the school’s online learning resource, Firefly, including note guides for all topics. Additionally, there are specialist notes written by members of the department to supplement textbooks, and revision material which includes specialist guidance and some fun quizzes for pupils to use. Reading guides and bespoke reading lists are also available to pupils. We have built up a wealth of film and documentary material available on Clickview (available to all pupils both in and out of school) and through an extensive collection of DVDs on key topic areas.
The department has particular expertise in Russian, German, military and British history and British and American politics. In addition, we have experience in supervising the IB Extended Essay, and in preparing pupils for Oxbridge, including the History Aptitude Test. Members of the department supervise and manage the Extended Project Qualification, which enables A-Level students to complete an in-depth essay over the course of their Sixth Form studies. In addition, we have expertise in preparing pupils for the LNAT and law interviews.
Past pupils have won the Trinity College History Prize and the Peterhouse Vellacott Prize, and every year we encourage pupils to take part in such competitions. We run Oxbridge classes and have a flourishing Politics Society.
History and Politics students have participated in the European Youth Parliament since 2006, beating schools from all over the south of England in reaching the Thames Valley final, finishing in the top three out of 20 schools in the region. Each year our A-Level and IB students attend a conference on Russian history which focuses both on new research and examination technique.
Government and Politics pupils also attend lectures and conferences where they have the opportunity of questioning leading political figures and, in recent years, students have attended public meetings with Nigel Farage and Nick Clegg, and a pre-election hustings in London. Such events allow students to see politicians of the calibre of Tony Benn, William Hague and George Osborne.
The History Society invites historians to speak to pupils and also runs a successful History Film Society. The latter focuses on a topic being taught within the school and shows either a single film or a collection of clips and documentary excerpts in order to enhance their studies.
The Religious Education (RE) department is at the heart of the school, with large numbers of boys choosing to follow examination courses and achieving academic results of the highest quality.
Religious Education seeks to be a department which is open, caring and friendly. We aim to stimulate the interest of boys in religion and ideas regardless of their ability or background. In Religious Education, boys are encouraged to discover truth for themselves and learn to articulate their own worldview. Boys explore religious, ethical and existential questions through rational and critical enquiry and develop the skills of analysis, empathy and independent study. Boys are expected to question ideas, develop and test their own opinions whilst being respectful and sensitive to the views of others.
All boys have two periods a week of RE in Fourth Form, and these teaching periods are used to deliver an introductory course in Theology and Philosophy. Many boys opt to take a GCSE Full Course in Philosophy of Religion and Ethics in the Fifth Form. A-Level Religious Studies and IB Philosophy are popular choices in the Sixth Form and a significant number of boys go on to read related subjects at university.
There are four RE teachers in the Upper School: the Head of Department, the Chaplain and two further subject specialists.
There is a Sixth Form Philosophy and Theology Society which meets one evening each half term welcoming visiting speakers. The society is popular and holds joint meetings with Bedford Girls’ School.