In their History lessons at Caterham School, students develop the skills of critical thinking, incisive analysis, effective oral and written argument, reading between the lines, essay writing and much, much more. History is not just a dry series of dates and events (though they do matter). It is an ongoing process of investigation, analysis, selection and debate. It is this process which inspires inquisitive, challenging and analytical minds to pursue the subject up the school and beyond.
At Key Stage 3, we encourage the students to make connections and contrasts across time and continents, societies and cultures; religions and politics. We travel through the Middle Ages and the English Reformation in the First Year, moving on to the English Civil War, the French Revolution, and aspects of the 19th century in the Second Year. Third Year students follow a 20th century course, which begins with World War One and charts the road to World War Two and on to events of more recent times.
The GCSE syllabus we follow is the Edexcel Modern World History. All students take courses on International Relations 1943-91, either Germany 1918-39, War and the transformation of British Society 1931-51, and a controlled assessment task on Vietnam.
We offer an Early Modern and a Modern A Level course, using the Edexcel specifications. In the Lower Sixth, the early modernists look at the Luther, Lutheranism and the German Reformation 1517-55, the European Witchcraze, c.1580-1650, and Henry VIII: Authority, Nation and Religion, 1509-1540. The modernists study Russia in Revolution, 1881-1924, Stalin's Russia, 1924-53, and Britain and the Nationalist Challenge in India, 1900-47. In the Upper Sixth, the early modernists investigate the Golden Age of Spain (coursework) and Revolution, Republic and Restoration: England 1629-67, whilst the modernists study the issue of Civil Rights in America (coursework) and From Kaiser to Führer, Germany 1900-45.
Every year, a significant number of students go on to study History at universities, including Oxford and Cambridge, and the department runs regular enrichment classes to push forward the historical thinking of those who desire to be further challenged.
History is brought alive by the teachers' genuine passion for their subject. Popular trip destinations include Rochester for the First Year; the National Army Museum for the Second Year; the WWI battlefields for the Third Year. October half-term trips abroad have included visits to Eastern Europe, Germany, Florence, Paris, Russia and the USA. There is a regular programme of Clio (History Society) talks and we arrange many theatre trips. Various competitions are also run, promoting the sort of independent thinking and learning that other subjects can only talk about!
Rob Salem, BA (Hons) (Oxon), PGCE (London), MA (London), Head of History, Vice-President of Caterham School Debating Society, Pupil Data Coordinator
Rob started teaching in 1994, joining Caterham in 1999. He teaches History across all year groups, including modern and early modern A Level, coaches Oxbridge students and takes enrichment seminars. He has also taught Critical Thinking. Rob writes articles for the GCSE Hindsight magazine and was an examiner and team leader for Edexcel for several years. Other responsibilities include being a tutor in Harestone House, running the Debating Society and administering the timetable.
Michael Lesser, BA (Hons) Lancaster, MA (Ottowa) and MBA (Glasgow), Teacher of History, Director of Sixth Form
Michael was Head of the History Department until September 2000, when he became Head of Sixth Form. Michael teaches across all year groups, and has examined for the NEAB. His particular strengths lie in teaching 20th century history and he has a keen interest in teaching the history of the Middle East, South Africa and Russia. Other responsibilities include being Director of Sixth Form.
Nick Mills, BA (Hons) Liverpool, PGCE (London), Teacher of History, Head of Viney House
A graduate of the University of Liverpool, Nick joined Caterham in 2007 having previously taught at Alleyn's School. He teaches across the age range from First Year to Upper Sixth and has fulfilled numerous roles in the department, such as running the History Society, mentoring PGCE students and organising superb overseas trips. Nick coaches rugby and occasionally plays it too. Since 2010 he has been Head of Viney Boys Boarding.
Toby Cooper MA (London) AKC PGCE (Durham) Teacher of History, Head of Politics, Head of Ridgefield, Assistant Director of Learning and Teaching
Toby studied History at King's College London, specialising in Medieval History for his MA, whilst also being elected an Associate after passing the relevant theological and philosophical exams. Toby joined Caterham in 2010 after five years working at Epsom College. He is an experienced A Level examiner for Edexcel Politics and History. Toby teaches History across the age ranges including A Level as well as Politics. Other responsibilities include being Head of Ridgefield, running Clio (the History Society) and coaching netball and cricket.