Aim: To determine the extent to which extracurricular activities impact on student enjoyment of History, KS3 results and uptake at GCSE.

Background: History was popular in the option choices (2 classes in Year 10 and 2 in Year 11) and we wanted to maintain and improve upon our uptake. There was only a limited extracurricular programme in place.

Method: The reasons for students opting for GCSE History in Year 9 were investigated through questionnaires, particularly focusing on gender issues since 34% more boys than girls were opting for History. Throughout the project, progress was measured annually each May.

The findings from the questionnaires were used to modify schemes of work, for example a new unit on slavery was introduced at KS3. New extracurricular activities were also introduced, such as a visit for Year 10 to the Cold War Exhibition at RAF Cosford and a visit to the school from a Holocaust survivor for Year 9 pupils. In the second year, in response to questionnaires, the scheme of work for Year 9 was modified to include a more detailed study of the Suffragettes and a greater emphasis on weapons in the First World War. In the third year, Year 9 schemes of work were modified slightly to include more focus on women during WW1.

Evidence: Pupil questionnaires.

Impact: 54 Year 9 students opted for History in 2014, 45% of the year group. This is an increase from 44% in 2013 and 39% in 2012. History continues to attract more students than any other option subject offered at Ysgol Rhiwabon. Students clearly enjoy the topics being taught, with high percentages of both boys and girls enjoying the subject.

Students felt trips did affect their enjoyment of History. In Year 7, 75% of girls and 66% of boys felt visits affected their enjoyment. In Year 8, 89% of girls and 72% of boys agreed that trips affected their enjoyment of History, while in Year 9 the figures were 78% for girls and 81% for boys.

KS3 results were analysed again in 2014. 81% of year 9 boys achieved a L5+ compared to 93% of Year 9 girls. 22% of Year 9 boys achieved a L6+ compared to 54% of Year 9 girls. There appears to be more of a gender divide at L6+ than at L5+, with girls outperforming boys.

Questionnaires showed that students, in the main, did not feel that History appeals to boys more than girls. There are now more girls opting for History than boys!

Reflections: Performance and uptake have increased, despite the extracurricular programme of events remaining limited. Enjoyment of lessons and topics being studied has had a far greater impact. The main challenge was in finding extracurricular activities that were in the price range of our students, and gaining permission from the Senior Leadership Team to run such visits.

Contact: Alexandra Navarro