November 2015
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New GCSE OCR Explaining the Modern World. An acquired taste? or Hobson’s choice

 

Now that the new GCSE history (9-1) specifications have nearly all been accredited, it is time to start making some hard choices. For teachers of the popular legacy OCR Modern World Course, the choices will be that bit tougher. It’s the thematic component that worries me most. There are three options. You can either do the new Migration in Britain c.1000-c.2010 or Power: Monarchy and Democracy c.1000 to 2014 or War and British Society c.790 to c.2010. So far, superficially, this does not seem to pose particular problems. Although the second one on power looks a little dull and inevitably means revisiting substantial parts of the KS3 curriculum. That leaves migration and warfare. Both have potential. That is until you read the rubric about prohibited combinations. If I wanted to teach migration and I very well might, I have, yes have to teach The Impact on Empire on Britain 1688-c.1730. This would not have been my first choice; but it turns out to be my only one! I also have to teach, yes, this is the only route, urban environments: patterns of migration which, for 2018 examination, means a study of Butetown in Cardiff.

What if I go for warfare instead, making more use of some of the old legacy materials? Well, here again you have only one route. You have to study the Personal Rule to Restoration and then, rather bizarrely, castles: form and function c.1000-1750. The historic environment component obliges me to teach Framlingham castle for the first year.

When so much choice is usually available to history teachers it is somewhat ironic that in the thematic study, British depth study, and historic environment study, worth 50% combined with at there is very little choice once a route has been decided.

Elsewhere on the paper there is only one place where schools can make a personal choice and that is with the depth study. Here there are 7 options, 2 of them 20C America and nothing on the Russian Revolution. Time will tell whether schools will cover the whole of the International Relations topic which spans a whacking 83 years from 1918 to 2001 but falls short of the Iraq war.

It’ll be interesting to see the effect of the route-based approach on centre numbers. Watch this space.

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