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subject overview

As teachers of History at Harrow High, we want our learners to generate an interest and passion in the past that will remain with them for life. We wish to transmit knowledge and understanding of the past, both within the United Kingdom and of the wider world and aim that our learners continuously develop life skills such as thinking, evaluating, analysing, empathising and communicating. It is also part of our responsibility, to instil the gift of developing written skills and critically assessing events. Therefore, learners can formulate their own views on which explanations they think seem most convincing. In this way, they develop their own ability to argue both logically and lucidly and have every opportunity to do the best they can.


unit overview - autumn term


  • Using a range of chronology to understand the key events in the topic.
  • Showing and using a range and depth of historical knowledge to analyse understanding.
  • Developing skills to examine various interpretations of history and what they mean.
  • Organisation of work via learning essay writing skills focusing on analysis.
  • Developing communication skills via presentations, speeches, news reports and projects.
  • Developing a range of vocabulary using knowledge organisers.
  • Making connections between different events and time periods.
  • Developing exam skills to answer the exam questions.


  • To examine what was life like for the Plains Indians: their beliefs and way of life.
  • Analyse the factors that encouraged the development of migration westwards and the early settlement for the American’s.
  • Evaluate the reasons for tension between settlers and the Plain Indians and the problems of lawlessness in the wild west.
  • Examine the consequences of the American Civil War for the west and the growth of the cattle industry after the war.
  • Analyse the US government policy towards the Plains Indians and the impact of this, including the changes in new technology and new farming methods.
  • Evaluate the reasons for and the impacts of the Battle of the Little Big Horn & its consequences and implications through to the Wounded Knee Massacre.
  • Examine the significance of changing government attitudes to the Plains Indians and the impact of reservations on their way of life.  


  • This unit is vital in demonstrating and further helping learners gain a broader understanding and contextual knowledge of the history of the American West and the development of America. It also crosses cultural prejudices and shows how people of the past dealt with them. 
  • The unit is part of the GCSE syllabus therefore it is necessary to teach it and it is a balance between short questions and source work. It is interesting for our learners as there is opportunity to explore what ancient ideas and belongings to a piece of land meant and how these traditional ideas were curtailed. It also provides scope for learners to gain a deeper understanding into the lives of everyday people and how they found themselves so helpless against a new powerful, albeit tyrannical government.
  • Learners are expected to acquire knowledge and exam skills as specified in the specification for this unit and to apply it progressively throughout the course across the topics and across the skills in order to understand the importance and relevance of transferring skills and knowledge. The diverse range of activities offered in this unit enables learners to broaden the range or reading, writing and thinking activities that they will use.

knowledge Organiser

A knowledge organiser is an important document that lists the important facts that learners should know by the end of a unit of work. It is important that learners can recall these facts easily, so that when they are answering challenging questions in their assessments and GCSE and A-Level exams, they are not wasting precious time in exams focusing on remembering simple facts, but making complex arguments, and calculations.

We encourage all pupils to use them by doing the following:

  • Quiz themselves at home, using the read, write, cover, check method.
  • Practise spelling key vocabulary
  • Further researching people, events and processes most relevant to the unit.