KS3 is our chance to understand a particular subject and its particular disciplines. When I picked the periods of history and questions for KS3 to answer this year – and what a privilege that is, by the way! I’ve always felt this is one of the greatest joys of my job – I didn’t do it because it would help with KS4, or even KS5.
What I’ve picked will, of course, help with GCSEs, but that’s not the reason for my choices. Y7 will begin their study of history by considering how best to understand antiquity. In doing so they’ll learn about great civilisations, people, ideas, trade and ancient geography. These won’t turn up in their GCSEs (at present). But they will learn some great history.
In learning great history, rather than focussing on exam-style “skills”, whatever these are, they’ll actually be better prepared for their eventual exams. And whilst I do tend to plan backwards I do so in terms of knowledge and with university as my starting point, not GCSEs: I like to think about what I would have liked to know more about in my first year, and how that would have helped so many of my peers, all Nazi Germany’d up to the max.
So no, KS3 shouldn’t be designed with KS4 in mind. But if it’s interesting and culturally rich and seeks to strike that balance between breadth and depth, well: KS4 is more likely to fall into place.