Humanities at Hanford

Hanford’s corner of Dorset has much to offer when it comes to teaching Humanities. The open countryside on our doorstep is used as an extended classroom. Nearby a rich variety of museums, historic buildings, woodlands and not to mention The Jurassic coastline is used in many ways to bring the syllabus to life.

Hanford School-Humanities 1


As far as the geography department is concerned all Dorset would need to make it the perfect place to study their subject is a working volcano. Topics such as the water cycle, settlement and erosion are all in evidence locally. At the river Stour, girls can see first hand how a river shapes the land.

The top of Hambledon Hill is an excellent place to point out how landscape dictates settlement patterns, while Barton-on-Sea is probably one of the best places to witness costal erosion in action. When the weather is fine many lessons at Hanford are taken outside.

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We aim to foster an enduring curiosity about the past and how it has shaped us. The girls learn the rigours of source analysis and how to develop a coherent argument (on paper and in debates) alongside learning to research and explore a broad range of historical periods and perspectives.
Hanford School-Humanities 7
Written work in History aims to develop a pupils’ ability to communicate what they have learned and what they think; to support their ideas with historical evidence; and to structure their work intelligently – in other words, to develop skills they will need in the future, both in the history classroom and beyond.

Religious Studies and Philosophy

In the Lower School, the girls study the fundamentals of Christianity and Judaism, with trips to local churches and the Bournemouth Synagogue. Years 7 and 8 follow the CE course Theology, Philosophy and Religion, which explores the beliefs and practices of the main world religions Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism and Islam and Judaism. They also study the ideas of key philosophers including Plato, David Hume, John Stuart Mill and Martin Luther King. Girls are encouraged to develop a detailed understanding of each faith and be respectful of each others’ traditions, beliefs and ethics.

Hanford School-Humanities 5

Critical Thinking

The aim of this course is to encourage girls not to simply accept all arguments and conclusions, but to question them to reach logical and reasoned judgements. We encourage them to be open-minded, test out ideas and to accept that they should be challenged by others. The course involves a range of activities to examine how we think, the difference between an argument and a rant, how to support an opinion with evidence and to think ‘outside the box’.

Hanford School-Humanities 2

Current Affairs and PHSE

Personal, Social and Health Education is taught against a backdrop of current affairs. Topical stories in the news are used as catalysts to spark discussion around a number of PHSE issues such as smoking, elections, charitable giving and fake news. Using this approach contextualises the more abstract issues of PHSE making them feel more relevant for the girls and easier to understand. We encourage them to form their own opinions by challenging their thinking and encouraging debate.