What the inspectors saw - Good practice spotted by Ofsted

8th March 2013 at 00:00

Local history: Cape Cornwall School

In brief

History is thriving at Cape Cornwall School, helped by an emphasis on studying local history. This has encouraged pupils to learn about the area's heritage and understand the importance and relevance of history as a wider subject.

The project

Year 7 pupils explore local myths and legends and evaluate the reliability of historical accounts. They investigate a Norman castle, study the evidence the Normans left behind and explore Cornish settlement patterns and place names.

The Year 8 curriculum focuses on Cornwall's part in the English Civil War and includes mining and migration to mining areas in the US, South Africa and Australia. Links have been established with a school in the "Little Cornwall" district in Moonta, South Australia.

In Year 9, pupils study the Second World War and a key part of this involves drawing on oral testimony from local residents. In Year 11, pupils study Cornish mining as part of their GCSE course, focusing on the Levant Mine near the school. Many pupils have historic family connections with tin mining.

As well as the school's own library, Year 8 pupils use resources including the Royal Cornwall Museum's collection of Cornish mining photographs, Cornwall Record Office's employment and census records, the Cornish Studies Library, other local libraries and local newspaper archives.

Teachers research much of the source material in archives and museums and compile packs of visual and textual resources for classroom use.

Pupils are taken on visits to museums and historical sites. Year 7 pupils go to Restormel Castle to explore how a small garrison could dominate the local area. A trip to Pendennis Castle allows Year 8 pupils to investigate Cornwall's role in the English Civil War, while Geevor Tin Mine is used in the study of Cornish emigration in the second half of the 19th century. In Year 11, pupils visit Geevor again to make comparisons with the nearby Levant Mine that is the focus of their controlled assessment.

Pupils have also taken part during assembly and history classes in a project to discover the "greatest ever Cornish person". The top vote went to Rick Rescorla who, in the words of one pupil, "showed courage in the face of unimaginable catastrophe and who gave his life to save others" in the attack on the twin towers in New York in 2001.

Signs of success

History is a popular subject at the school. Take-up at key stage 4 is well above average and most pupils choose to study the subject at GCSE. Attainment in GCSE exams has been well above average for several years and the proportion of pupils obtaining A* and A grades has increased.

Year 8 pupils won a one-day "Sacred Cornwall" competition for their investigation into the Civil War in the county. The school's pupils were also involved in plans to choose a site for a statue of a miner to commemorate the county's mining history.

What the inspectors said

"Not only do pupils report how much they enjoy their work in history, they recognise its value and the central role of 'understanding how things happen, and why they happened'. A clear vision of history's role in enriching pupils' understanding of their local heritage and the importance of the area in the past has been established."

Read the full Ofsted case study report at bit.lyQB1Qj9

The school

Name: Cape Cornwall School

Location: Penwith, Cornwall

Type of school: Mixed comprehensive

Age range: 11-16

Number of pupils: About 400

Intake: Almost all white British.

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