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Orchard School Bristol


Within our Humanities curriculum we teach History, Geography, Religious Studies, Philosophy for Children and Grow - an 'extended project' for Year 9 students.

Staff Profiles

  • Ms Rebecca Drew - BA (Hons), MA, PGCE - Head of Faculty

Ms Drew is currently on maternity leave.

I graduated from the University of York with a degree in History and went on to complete my PGCE in History, also at York. I am currently completing my Master’s in History Education with the Institute of Education, University College London, as a part time course whilst teaching. I am particularly interested in the quality of Holocaust education across the curriculum and how this can be improved as one of the only statutory parts of the History curriculum. I am a team leader for GCSE History examining on two papers and I am a member of the Chartered College of Teaching.

  • Dr Steve Murray, BSc (Hons), MSc, PhD, PGCE - Head of Faculty (maternity cover)

I graduated from the University of Southampton with a 1st class degree in Physical Geography before completing my Masters and PhD at the University of Bristol, where my research focused on the application of dynamic global vegetation models to simulate future projections of hydrological change under varying scenarios of climate change and population dynamics.  My pedagogical interests include the effective use of data and research for enhancing teaching and learning, assessment and questioning. I am a member of the Chartered College of Teaching and have gained the National Professional Qualification for Senior Leaders.

  • Mrs Emma-Jane Courtney, BA (Hons), PGCE  - Second in Humanities

I graduated from the University of the West of England with a degree in Geography and Education, before attending the University of Bath where I completed my PGCE in Geography. I have a particular interest in the sustainability of tropical rainforests after an excursion to the Amazon rainforest whilst teaching in the remotest part of Peru.  I am currently a GCSE Geography examiner. I gained my National Professional Qualification for Middle Leaders in 2019.  

  • Miss Carly Bryan, BA (Hons), PGCE

I have a degree in Fine Art and a PGCE in education.  I am a teacher of Art, Design and Philosophy. I have also been a pastoral leader for twelve years now. As a fine artist, I particularly like to explore working with a range of media, such as clay, watercolours, photography and pastels.   I am also passionate about delivering current affairs and significant topics through teaching Philosophy for Children. 









  • Mr Christopher Daniel, BA (Hons), MA, MA, PGCE

I graduated from Lancaster University with a degree in Politics and went on to complete a Master's degree in Middle Eastern Politics. I then worked in Westminster before completing a Master's degree in Modern European History, followed by a PGCE. I worked for three years as Subject Leader of Politics in Norwich before moving to Orchard School in September 2018. I have completed my National Professional Qualification for Middle Leaders and am currently working towards the senior leadership qualification.   

  • Gemma Hickey, BA (Hons), PGCE

I graduated from Trinity College Carmarthen with a degree in Theology. I have a particular interest in World religions, Psychology and Sociology.

  • Mr Pete Hurran, BA (Hons), PGCE 

I graduated from the University of Middlesex with a degree in Third World Studies with Geography and then completed a Geography PGCE at Birmingham University. I studied at a Guilin Institute of Technology in China and have undertaken research alongside fellow educators in The Gambia. My particular interests are international development, human rights, world history, climate change and sustainability. I am a Geography GCSE examiner, have a TEFL/TESOL qualification and achieved the National Professional Leadership Qualification for Senior Leaders in 2014.

  • Miss Laura Taylor, BA (Hons), PGCE 

I graduated from the University of Kent in 2014 with a first class degree in history before training as a history teacher at the University of Exeter in 2016. I have a particular interest in increasing diverse voices within the history curriculum and have worked with One Bristol Curriculum to develop enquiries based on global ‘hidden histories’.

  • Ms Sophie Wiltshire, BA (Hons), PGCE

I graduated from the University of Bristol with a degree in Childhood Studies before completing my PGCE. I have a keen interest in the teaching of current affairs and encouraging students to engage in debate and discussion. I have taught English, Philosophy, Latin and PSHE at Orchard. As a year 7 tutor I am passionate about supporting students to make the transition to secondary, through building strong and consistent relationships.

Geography - Curriculum features 

The inspiring and enriching Geography curriculum at Orchard School exposes our students to the incredible world around them and is underpinned by key concepts including human and physical processes. The curriculum develops pupils' curiosity and fascination about the world and its people through deep learning and questioning on exciting and relevant geographical topics. We think that studying geography is important as it teaches our students the evolution of people, places and environments. 

The key themes that are explored in geography are ones that allow students to be able build on curiosity and question the world around them such as physical and human geographical features of the world such as rainforest destruction in the Amazon, the reason behind our dynamic and changing weather or the development and changes to our very own city.  

Current environmental issues such as climate change and sustainable development facilitate students to expand their understanding of what it means to be a ‘global citizen’ so that they can make well- informed decisions in our ever-changing world. We study the present and the future of our dynamic planet. 

We spark curiosity in our students, so that they wonder and question in order to develop the skills to make sense of their cultural heritage and be open-minded in our fantastically diverse community by building relationships between the natural and human world. This is aided through geographical visits in the human and physical world to bring a sense of awe and wonder into students’ lives. 

History - Curriculum features

The ambitious history curriculum at Orchard School helps students to gain insightful knowledge and curiosity about our past in order to understand the local diversity of our area and Britain’s international significance in the world. 

The fascination of history facilitates students to expand their understanding of what it means to be a ‘global citizen’ by being aware of, and understanding, the wider world through the development of their own knowledge of world events.  

Historical concepts such as continuity and change, cause and consequence, similarity, difference and significance, are explored to make connections, draw contrasts and analyse trends. Developing these skills when using historical enquiry allows students to make contrasting arguments and interpretations of the past. This is achieved by learning about challenging past events such as world wars, how England has changed over time and how medicine has advanced through modern-day knowledge and development.  

History helps pupils to better understand their own lives through a deeper understanding of the complexity of other people’s lives, the process of change, the diversity of societies and relationships between different groups. History at Orchard allows students to think critically and deeply about the wider world and be able to ask questions about the past and how it connects to the future. 

They key skills that run throughout the curriculum are source analysis and interpretation as it allows students to think deeply and be able to critique the past. The ambitious curriculum units that are taught as part of the students learning journey such as Bristol’s involvement in the Slave Trade, the Civil Rights Movement and the impact this had on some people’s lives here in our very own city, the Black Death and the Holocaust that are taught at Orchard allow students to learn from the past and build on the future. This helps students to decipher and build on their understanding of propaganda and fake news.   

Religion, Ethics and Philosophy - Curriculum features

Religion, Ethics and Philosophy plays a vital role in the development of pupils’ spiritual, moral, social and cultural development. It promotes respect towards others with different faiths and beliefs and encourages pupils to develop their own sense of identity and belonging through self-awareness and reflection.  

Its aim is to engage, inspire and encourage pupils, with the knowledge and skills to answer challenging questions, and develop an understanding of the numerous religious traditions, beliefs and practices that are followed in our diverse society.  

Within ethics we require pupils to ask questions and reflect on their own views on current topics and up to date issues that are presented in the media. For example, same-sex marriage, organ donation, abortion and the death penalty to name but a few. We encourage pupils to reflect on their own opinions, beliefs, values and experiences and have knowledge of Christian and Muslim teachings in order to build community cohesion and understanding.  

Exploring moral and ethical issues allows for deep questioning, developing the skills to enquire, explore, hold debates and to be able to promote respectful disagreement.  

We want our students to be confident in expressing their own opinions and in listening and responding to the opinions of others through healthy discussion’s on big questions such as ‘does God exist?’, ‘why is there evil and suffering in the world?’ and ‘how was the world created?’. 

“P4C aims to help children become more thoughtful, more reflective, considerate and reasonable individuals.”
Professor Matthew Lipman, Founder of P4C 

Philosophy for Children, or P4C, is an approach to learning and teaching which enhances children’s thinking, speaking, listening and reasoning skills, boosts their self-esteem, and has been shown to improve academic attainment. 

P4C promotes personal, social and emotional growth of students, boosting confidence, expanding vocabulary and enabling student agency.  P4C lessons explore, develop and apply  our Orchard Values in a dynamic and relevant way.

In P4C lessons, we use a wide range of stimulus, such as a video clip, a news article, a quote or an image to begin our enquiry.  Philosophical questions are open to examination, further questioning and enquiry. They are contestable, central and common – that is, there is more than one valid point of view. The questions we explore are important in the lives of students and others.  We encourage students to be open-minded in the viewpoints and actions of others within their usual experiences and beyond them. 

 In P4C everyone's ideas are valued.  Students learn that it is fine to disagree as long as you are respectful in your responses. Importantly, students also learn that it is okay to change your mind.

GROW - Extended Project

GROW is a project for Year 9 students which provides an opportunity for them to research a topic or issue of interest. During these lessons, students learn how to resource and research information, how to write a letter to a subject expert, how to synthesise information to write an introduction, project chapters and conclusion, how to present data and how to cite sources appropriately. Students also have the opportunity to present their finished project to a non-specialist audience and receive valuable feedback on their write-up and presentation.

 Recent projects have investigated:

  •  "What do we know about black holes and what is there left to learn?"
  • "Why is Auschwitz so infamous in the History of the Holocaust?"
  • "Is it safe for children to drink energy drinks?"
  • "To what extent is Nike a model for sports brand success?"
  • "What are the factors leading to someone self-harming?"
  • “How has the Tower of London changed over time?"

You can see examples of our Grow Projects in our Showcase tab.