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“Far from being a ‘dead’ subject History is integral to a good understanding of the condition of being human. It studies the past and its legacies in the context of the present. It is not just ‘useful’ for acquiring skills, or ‘entertaining’ for its stories (although it is both of those things) – it is essential.”

Kathryn Galbraith Head of History


History at Haileybury

Against the background of Haileybury's role in British, Imperial and even world events, History confronts pupils wherever they walk across the campus. From Malthus to Attlee, from Viscount Allenby to Kipling, at every turn pupils are reminded of those who have shaped the world we know today.

This is important not least because the study of History plays a crucial role in how we understand world events and shape our ideas for tomorrow. In understanding and learning from the past we can hope to craft a better future.


In Lower School, the emphasis is on British History with increasingly controversial topics being studied such as the morality of colonialism. In Removes pupils study the First World War, with a particular focus on the role played by Haileyburians, before moving on to the development of the United States in the 19th century.

We follow an extremely popular and relevant (I)GCSE course, with special emphasis on the United States and international relations. By way of contrast, all pupils also analyse the dramatic and life-enhancing changes in medicine between 1845 and 1945.

Sixth Formers can choose from three routes, covering quite different periods and parts of the world:

  • Early Modern A Level looks at 16th century Europe, with a particular emphasis on England, Germany and witch hunts.
  • Modern A Level looks at Germany and Italy in the 20th century as well as the complex relationship between Britain and Ireland.
  • The IB Diploma Programme looks at world history in the 20th century, including Russia, the Cold War and contrasting dictatorships.


At Haileybury, pupils are encouraged to engage in History beyond the strict exam specifications. Members of the department search out opportunities for linking history to current affairs as well as further areas of interest, recommending reading, cinema and theatre. Getting to know pupils’ personal interests is a key part of this.

Trips play an important role in bringing history to life. Study visits enrich understanding and supply unique memories and experiences. Our excursions take the form of: day trips to the Tower of London and Hampton Court for the Lower School; a weekend trip to the Battlefields for all Removes; and an optional week-long trip for Middles to Georgia and Alabama to get an in-depth look at the Civil Rights Movement. Some of our trips are quite far-flung. In recent years, pupils have been to China, Vietnam and Russia.

Older pupils thinking of studying History at degree level are given additional support in extension sessions as well as encouragement to enter Sixth Form essay prizes. For the Removes and Middles, there is an annual Easter essay competition.

Head of Department

Kathryn Galbraith MA is Head of History. She grew up in rural North Yorkshire before winning a scholarship to Keble College, Oxford. After a short spell working for Morgan Stanley in the City, she returned to St. Antony’s College, Oxford to carry out research into the British economy in the 1930s. Kathryn began teaching at James Allen’s Girls’ School in Dulwich before spending twenty years at Ipswich School where her husband was Headmaster. Kathryn is an obsessive reader and committed marathon runner (when not injured).

Teaching staff

Kathryn's team at Haileybury includes: Edward Bond BA PGCE Director of Professional Development (from September 2015); Kate Corney MA; William Mieville-Hawkins BA; Emma Park BA GTP; Laura Pugsley MA PhD Head of Lower School; Matthew Radley MA PGCE MEd HM Batten; Ben Sadler BA PGCE Housemaster Bartle Frere (from September 2015); Simon Smith BA PGCE Deputy Head (Academic).


To find out more about our recent History results, please click on the link below:

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