Our history curriculum is rigorously sequenced so that our children’s historical knowledge, understanding and skills build over time. We have selected and designed our units carefully so that our curriculum includes diverse narratives and voices and recognises events of local significance.
Within our classrooms, we follow rich and ambitious lines of enquiry by answering big questions such as What is the lasting legacy of the Ancient Greeks? We teach children the knowledge they need in small steps to answer these challenging questions successfully. Studying history in this way inspires children’s curiosity, encourages them to ask critical questions and enables them to have a better understanding of the society in which they live and that of the wider world. In our history curriculum, we have thought about key threads that run through the units of learning. These include settlement, beliefs, culture, legacy, empire, civilisation, monarchy and society.
By carefully mapping these themes across the units and revisiting them in different sequences of learning, we ensure children make links and gain historical perspective by placing their growing knowledge into different contexts, understanding the connections between local, national and international history; and between short- and long-term timescales.
How we Plan and Teach History
In our EYFS, the most relevant statements for history are taken from the area of learning of Understanding the World. Children begin to develop their sense of chronology by talking about their own life story and the life story of family members. They are supported to communicate in the past tense when talking about things that have happened. Our children explore images of the past and make comparisons with the present. In KS1 and KS2, history is taught as a discrete subject. Teachers plan sequences of lessons across the unit that will build on and develop the children’s knowledge and skills.
In Key Stage 1, our curriculum is mapped to enable children to develop an awareness of the past, using common words and phrases relating to the passing of time. They will start to know where the people and events they study fit within a chronological framework and identify similarities and differences between ways of life in different periods. As they progress through the key stage, they will begin to make comparisons and connections between people and events in the past.
In Key Stage 2, children will continue to develop a chronologically secure knowledge and understanding of British, local and world history, establishing clear narratives within and across the periods they study. This chronology, or sequence of events, will be referred to throughout KS2 so that children become secure in their understanding of important historical events and eras. It will also enable them to begin to identify trends over time and develop the appropriate use of historical terms such as ancient and civilisation. The explicit mapping and rigorous teaching of vocabulary ensures that children can gain and deploy a historically grounded understanding of abstract terms such as ‘empire’ or ‘legacy’. Carefully selected skills are chosen to best match each unit of knowledge and progress year on year. Opportunities to practise and embed skills are planned for so that they are revisited and refined over time. The knowledge and skills that children will develop throughout each history topic are mapped across each year group and across the school to ensure progression. We also maximise the opportunities that our local area has to offer in terms of its rich history and cultural sites. Therefore, children’s learning in history is enriched by visits to carefully selected places, where workshops and visit materials deepen their understanding and knowledge. Teachers also use the Historical Association’s wealth of resources to develop their subject knowledge.
How we Evaluate Learning in History
The impact of our history curriculum can clearly be seen in the children’s books. The detailed unit overview outlines the main learning objectives – enquiry questions – that the children will explore and answer during their learning. The opportunity to evaluate and reflect on the learning is planned for regularly to enable the children to see how their learning is progressing. Children’s learning is assessed informally in each lesson and teachers plan responsively to next steps. At the end of a unit, children complete a short assessment (POP task). These short independent tasks provide evidence for assessing against the assessment statements on the Unit Overview. The POP tasks are carefully designed and require the children to recall their knowledge about the unit in a variety of ways (for example: sorting objects from different periods and explaining their function, describing the significance of key individuals from a period studied). At the end of the year, class teachers then use the children’s recorded work and assessment to make a judgement as to whether each child is working at the expected level.
One of the main purposes of the National Curriculum for History is to help students gain a coherent knowledge and understanding of Britain’s past and that of the wider world. In order to build a coherent, chronological narrative from the earliest times to the present day, we use a carefully constructed timeline which shows the different units children study in Key Stage 2. This allows pupils to gain historical perspective by making connections across short and long timescales and by relating their growing knowledge of periods taught to their chronological context. Using this timeline as a starting point, children sequence events, stories, pictures and periods over time to show how different periods relate to each other and to develop a coherent understanding of the past.