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History; GCSE; Edexcel

What are we learning about?

Visit the History blogs to find (and contribute to) activities, links and other information related to what we are studying. You can also go back to previous years and months if you want to follow topics out of your own interest. There are links to all the exam revision packs and past GCSE papers.


Work, comments or enquiries can always be emailed to me at: Suzanne.jeffery@georgemitchellschool.co.uk 

 Of course, work can always be done on paper and brought into school…

The GCSE course

The examination board is Edexcel.
The course is History B (Schools History Project).
There are 3 written exam papers (one and a half hours each) all taken at the end of the course, in June of Year 11:
  • Life in Germany 1919-1945
  • Protest, law and order in the twentieth century
There is one controlled assessment done in school halfway through the course:
  • Government and protest in the USA 1945-1970
  Year 10: 
  • Crime, Punishment and Policing in Britain from 1450 till now
  • Government and protest in the USA 1945-1970
Year 11:
  • Life in Germany 1919-1945
  • Protest, law and order in the twentieth century 
  • Crime and Punishment
  • Revision

On the whole, revision guides from shops are NOT useful. They only cover the Life in Germany unit. They never cover the other units and there is a danger that students may revise the wrong topics from them. It is far better to use the revision guides we produce which can be accessed from the Year 11 blog (see above). Hard copies are also given to students at the appropriate times. If parents want to buy useful revision material, far better to get the textbooks (see below).

The best way to revise is to do so often and in short bursts over a long period of time, not cramming at the last minute. Ten minutes of history a day, looking at one small topic each time, again and again over the two years, will be far more useful than long sessions under pressure when the exams are looming.


If you want your child to have textbooks at home, we recommend the following.
Dawson, Crime & Punishment Through Time (Hodder)
Todd and Whittock, History B Schools History Project: Crime and Protest (Pearson)
Banham and Culpin, Essential Germany 1918-1945  (Hodder)
Lacey and Shephard, Germany 1918-1945 (Hodder) – only for students aiming for the high grades.
Waugh and Wright, A Divided Union? The USA 1945-1970 . (Hodder)

History Alive

Is History relevant? Does it connect with young people’s lives and interests? Absolutely!

History helps us understand who we are and where we’ve come from, why the world is the way it is and how we can make our way in the world and perhaps change it. It equips us to judge how much to believe of what we are told and how to reach our own decisions. Employers rate History highly because it trains students to analyse and reach conclusions based on a critical study of evidence: a key skill for any occupation. The stories are good too!

 60% of students at George Mitchell choose to do a History GCSE. The national average is 30%. The subject is popular!

Were there really Africans in Britain before the English came? How did 20,000 soldiers beat an army of a quarter of a million? Was the Black Death really spread by rats? When was Baghdad the centre of the world? What can witches tell us about war? What can pirates tell us about freedom? Why did Londoners love a West Indian  so much that cannon were aimed at the East End to stop them rioting when he died? Did Bollywood get the story of India in 1857 right? Were child labourers telling the truth? What was the real Titanic story? Were the generals in 1916 really donkeys? What was the Bloody Code? Why was Jack the Ripper never caught? Were women the first English terrorists? Why was a boy murdered for saying ‘Bye, Baby!’? Who were the Black Panthers?  Whose slogan was ‘Hell, no, we won’t go!’? When and where did you need to be a millionaire to buy a sausage? Why did millions vote for the man who started the most terrible war in history?

If you want to follow  George Mitchell History  you can catch the blogs which are full of ideas and activities for further learning opportunities:

Every year our students get involved in creative History projects that bring the past into the centre of people’s lives. These are our recent projects:

Up The Manor! Our boys experienced 5 star accommodation, learned to row and play golf, explored the Emirates Stadium and conducted a series of oral history interviews with Eton Manor Boys’ Club old boys as part of an archive now lodged at the Bishopsgate Institute.
Bad Kids! Our girls explored the complex story of children and crime through the ages and performed to an audience of academics, journalists and university students at a conference run by History & Policy and the Raphael Samuel History Centre. They also got to see War Horse in the West End.
Cultures in Contact! A major collaboration with the British Museum over three years involving a whole year group tracing the growth and decline of European empires over the last 500 years. So far we have seen the treasures of Benin, explored the world of the Aztecs, travelled with John White to the North American settlement of Roanoke, seen how the Opium Wars affected China and re-enacted the Scramble for Africa. This year we reach the 20th century and the struggles for freedom in India and East Africa.
Across the Divide! Our students created a drama performance from the remembered lives of Beaumont Estate residents from the 1940s to the 1990s, working with Age Exchange and London & Quadrant. They then performed and ran workshops in Walthamstow Library, Vestry House Museum, Beaumont Community Centre and University College London. In return they enjoyed the stage musical Billy Elliot.

The City of Dreadful Night! GCSE students ‘enriched’ their work on Crime and Punishment with a tour round the Jack the Ripper murder sites followed by a trip to the London Dungeon.

Samurai! As part of International Week students in Years 7 to 9 explored the world of medieval Japanese warrior poets.

Ready Steady Research! Year 9s who had chosen History GCSE spent an afternoon exploring primary sources at the Bisghopsgate Institute in Spitalfields.

Down the River and Up the Road! Working in Drama and History lessons, our students created a series of dramatic sketches inspired by the stories of Irish migrants to London in the 1950s. Fascinated by echoes in their own lives, they performed their creation at the Queen’s Theatre in Hornchurch.

Them and Us!  We are in the middle of a project – working with academic historians as part of the Young History Workshop scheme involving 10 London schools – looking at attempts by racist/fascist organisations to get a foothold in the East End and the response from local communities in the ‘thirties, ‘seventies and ‘nineties.