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History & Politics


Knowledge of History is intrinsic to citizenship. To have no knowledge of the past is to be permanently burdened with a lack of perspective, empathy and wisdom.”

                                                                                         Irish President, Michael D Higgins


St. Catherine’s College, situated in the heart of Armagh, places our students right at the centre of Ireland’s historical past.

Here in the school’s History and Politics Department, we continually strive to encourage our students to embrace and explore their unique historical locality.

We aim, through all our units of study, to impress upon our students the importance of recognising that their locality and their past has shaped who they are today. This challenge is ever-evolving, given the exciting addition of foreign and international students to our school community in recent years.

Alphonse de Lamartine (poet, writer and politician) said: “History teaches everything, including the future”. In an increasingly turbulent present, it has never been more important to keep informed about the world’s people, leaders and events. With this in mind, history students at St. Catherine’s College are consistently encouraged to take an interest in current affairs. All the historical topics we study are deliberately chosen to promote an interest in tomorrow’s history.


The study of history is about more than simply memorising dates and the actions of famous figures. History is a chronicle of human behaviour - a real-life drama full of villains and heroes, the mighty and the meek. It examines the circumstances that moved its players to transform people and places (for better and for worse), and it holds the answers to how and why our lives are fashioned the way they are today - from our language, fashion and technology to our sport, political systems and religious practices.” From CCEA History Microsite


Through the units of study we have chosen to follow at St. Catherine’s, we examine historical themes and issues related to democracy; religious diversity; conflict and resolution (including the Partition of Ireland, leading to Northern Ireland’s more recent ‘Troubles’); people, societies and cultures; the environment; the workplace; and preserving our cultural heritage.


 As we move forward in building a shared society, it will be important to ensure

that all pupils access the requirements of the current history curriculum…[to]

include opportunities to reflect deeply on how the past has shaped attitudes,

behaviours and actions.” From the Chief Inspector’s Report for 2012-14


We strive to equip our students for the challenges of the modern workforce by giving them opportunities to develop their transferable employability skills – such as:

  • Research skills
  • Communication
  • The ability to work independently
  • Analysis
  • Evaluation
  • Synthesising arguments
  • Empathy with the views of others
  • Time Management
  • Self Evaluation
  • Group Working
  • Presentation Skills From the Chief Inspector’s Report for 2012-14
  • “For learners to reach their full potential, it is important that their wider skills and dispositions are developed fully.”

Finally, through the many and varied educational, historical trips we undertake each year, we attempt to provide our students with enriching and memorable life experiences. 

As well as highlighting the many historical locations in Armagh itself, we bring our students to places of historical significance far beyond Armagh’s county borders. 

In May, our Year 8 students visit Carrickfergus Castle, to examine how our cultural heritage is preserved today.

Each November, Year 9 students visit the Ulster American Folk Park in Omagh, as part of their studies on the Plantation of Ireland and Colonisation.

In recent years, Year 10s have been given the opportunity to visit World War II concentration camps in Poland, and speak to survivors of the ‘Holocaust’.


Most excitingly, however, in April 2014, students of History and Politics at St. Catherine’s travelled to the U.S.A. – where they visited Washington D.C., New York and Boston.

We hope that all of these historical adventures will ensure that our students develop a life-long engagement with the past, and an appreciation of the rich history of the world around them....



World War One – All-Ireland  ‘Adopt a Soldier’ Project


It was recently announced that two Year 13 History A Level students from St. Catherine’s College were selected to participate in this prestigious All-Ireland programme.

This project is in commemoration of World War 1, the Somme Battle in particular, and has an all-Ireland dimension. It will bring young people together (senior students), one from each of the 32 counties, during the last week of June 2015 in a visit to the Somme cemeteries and monuments, among others, to lay wreaths and pay tribute to the fallen from Ireland during WWI.


As part of this project, GRAINNE McGRATH was chosen to research and represent the soldier William McBride (immortalised in the song ‘The Green Fields of France’) from Co. ARMAGH, while DERVLA POWER will research and represent the soldier Patrick Owens from Cookstown, Co. TYRONE. 


The Units of Study we study are as follows: 


Key Stage Three

Year 8:History and My Environment’

  • Personal and Local History Study
  • Skills and Careers using History
  • The Norman Legacy and Preserving the Historical Past (Heritage)

Year 9:People, Societies and Cultures’

  • The Reformation and it impact in Ireland, England and Europe
  • American Colonies
  • The Plantations of Ireland and Ulster
  • The Cromwellian Settlement in Ireland
  • The Williamite Wars in Ireland
  • The Native American Indians

Year 10:Conflict and Resolution’

  • The long-term and short-term causes of the Partition of Ireland
  • The short-term and long-term consequences of the Partition of Ireland – including Northern Ireland’s ‘Troubles’
  • Twentieth Century Studies: WWII and the ‘Holocaust’; the dropping of the Atomic Bombs


KS3 Road Map

Thinking Skills and Personal Capabilities and the AfL tasks for History at KS3


Key Stage Four

For G.C.S.E. History, we follow CCEA Examination Board:

Year 11, Paper 1:

  • The USA 1919-1941
  • Changing Relationships: Britain, Northern Ireland and Ireland 1965-85

Year 12, Controlled Assessment and Paper 2:

  • Controlled Assessment: American Civil Rights
  • Paper 2: The Cold War 1945-1991


Sixth Form

For AS and A2 History, we follow CCEA Examination Board:

Year 13

  • AS 1: Britain 1815-1868
  • AS 2: Challenge and Crisis in Ireland 1821-67

Year 14

  • A2 1: Nationalism and Unionism in Ireland 1800-1900
  • A2 2: The Partition of Ireland 1900-1925

Road Maps for Years 8 to 14 History are attached here.

KS4 & 6th Form Road Maps

All AfL Assessments and resources for Key Stage Three, as well as important links for GCSE and AS/A2 History are available on the department’s Moodle site.

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