OCR offers two GCSE history specifications, History A (Explaining the Modern World) and History B (SHP).
Within Specification A the First World War features in the British thematic study option entitled War and British Society c.790 to c.2010. As part of this option students are required to study the First and Second World Wars including the impact on people’s lives, increased state power and the changing relationship between the state and the people. This option as a whole is worth 25% of the total specification.
One of the key themes on our battlefield tours is how the First World War impacted on people’s lives. Through this we consider how the war impacted upon soldiers and civilians and students are able to use their visits to various battlefield sites and local museums to explore this in great depth. For example, the In Flanders Field Museum in Ypres provides a vivid illustration of how the town and its civilians were directly affected by the war and provides a different perspective to the Home Front in the UK.
Within Specification B aspects of the First World War feature in the British Depth Study option entitled Britain in Peace and War, 1900–1918 – most specifically the Home Front. This option as a whole is worth 20%.
As part of the specification all schools have to study a site in its historical context. Specific sites can be chosen by the schools themselves unlike in the other awarding body GCSE history specifications. They have however to be submitted in advance for approval by OCR. The History Around Us component is worth 20% of total specification.
Our battlefield tours could provide the perfect opportunity for teachers and students to develop their ability to interpret historical sites and relate them to the wider historical context. Schools could also approach OCR to see whether they would be permitted to use a site from the Western Front as their History Around Us site.
The criteria for site study provided by OCR mirror closely the approach we take with students to historic sites whilst on tour.
- The reasons for the location of the site within its surroundings
- When and why people first created the site
- The ways in which the site has changed over time
- How the site has been used throughout its history
- The diversity of activities and people associated with the site
- The reasons for changes to the site and to the way it was used
- Significant times in the site’s past: peak activity, major developments, turning points
- The significance of specific features in the physical remains at the site
- The importance of the whole site either locally or nationally, as appropriate
- The typicality of the site based on a comparison with other similar sites
- What the site reveals about everyday life, attitudes and values in particular periods of history
- How the physical remains may prompt questions about the past and how historians frame these as
- valid historical enquiries
- How the physical remains can inform artistic reconstructions and other interpretations of the site
- The challenges and benefits of studying the historic environment
In addition, for teachers, our website contains a CPD module (Core Module 2) which focuses specifically on how to make the most of onsite learning.
Links to other useful First World War resources available for teachers on this website:
Learn more about how to use historic sites effectively by downloading our article:Remembering the First World War: using a battlefield tour to help pupils take a more critical approach to what they encounter
Take a look at some of our substantial history enquiries such as How much did the First World War change the lives of women in Britain? and How great was the impact of the First World War Each one is accompanied by classroom resources and could be used to cover some of the topics listed in OCR’s specifications.