The Humanities team at Burnside has responsibility for delivering courses in Geography and History from Key Stage 3-5, courses in Religious Education and Ethics from Key Stage 3-4 and courses in Sociology from Key Stage 4-5. Our aim is to teach active, engaging lessons which inspire students to be curious and reflective about their learning. We have a clear obligation to tackle contemporary issues of a social, moral, spiritual and cultural nature and each of the subjects we teach offers students the chance to discuss how lesson content has a relevance to the world around them. We are committed to developing transferrable skills with the students we teach and this involves establishing custom and practice in the way that we give students the opportunity to be involved and to lead their own learning. A key focus across the whole Humanities department is on literacy skills, whether verbal or written, and we aim to develop students ability to express themselves clearly and creatively.


At Key Stage Three the Geography curriculum follows the National Curriculum Programme of Study and allows students the opportunity to experience a number of learning approaches including the use of school-site and local fieldwork, practical experiments and the use of geographical equipment and ICT. Students are taught a balanced course offering both physical and human geography. This approach continues into Key Stage 4 where students cover the Edexcel specification of content and skills and Key Stage 5 where we follow the AQA syllabus. Exam class geography requires a greater depth of fieldwork and this is reflected through both residential and day trip opportunities.


At Key Stage Three the History curriculum follows the National Curriculum Programme of Study and looks at the History of Britain and the wider world from the Roman Empire to the Cold War. A wide range of learning approaches is used and there is a focus on historical skills such as empathy, analysis of causation and the evaluation of source material. Students develop their written and verbal literacy skills through a mixture of essay writing, creative tasks and group work such as debates and enquiries. This approach continues into Key Stage 4 where students cover the AQA specification content focussing on British and World History from the past 1000 years and Key Stage 5 where we currently use the OCR syllabus to look at British and World history from the seventeenth to the late twentieth century.

Religious Education and Ethics

At Key Stage Three the RE and Ethics curriculum follows the locally agreed programme of study. A variety of religions are explored including Christianity, Islam and Sikhism. The focus of learning is on the exploration and reflection of student attitudes on a range of ethical issues and we use these issues to investigate what the different world religions would teach about them.  Religious Studies is offered as an optional GCSE subject. All students receive their statutory RE requirement through extended tutor time with the form tutors.


Sociology is offered at Key Stages 4 and 5, in both instances we use the AQA exam board. The courses look at a range of social issues to do with family life, education and crime and deviance for example. The courses also offer an opportunity to explore the various theories on sociological matters including, for example, Marxism and Feminism. A broad range of learning strategies is employed and students conduct a lot of their own research in the form of surveys and interviews.