We aim for our history curriculum to inspire our pupils with curiosity about the past and the skills to ask and begin to answer historical questions, so they start to understand the complexities of people’s lives, how change comes about and the relationships within and between diverse societies. Our teaching of history will help pupils gain a secure knowledge and understanding of Britain’s past and of significant aspects of the wider world. This in turn supports their development of a sense of their own identity and a perspective on our own times.
As our pupils progress through our school and increase their historical skills, their growing knowledge about the past will help them to deepen their understanding of key historical concepts and how they have manifested within periods and changed over time. Our curriculum is mapped, and teaching is planned, to allow children to make comparisons between historical periods previously studied, developing their chronological knowledge, and understanding from the Stone Age to the present day.
We want to support our children’s curiosity about the past by helping them shape questions to pursue and building their skills to find answers for themselves and are developing an enquiry led approach to learning.
Our teaching is based in the National Curriculum requirements for each year group and recognises the need for children to acquire substantive and disciplinary knowledge to develop as historians. Our skills are mapped in phases, EYFS, KS1 and KS2, in order to give the children time to use and refine the skills in a variety of different contexts. We are very mindful of the need for the children to develop understanding of abstract concepts, such as empire or civilisation, and teaching and learning will explicitly explore these ideas and make links back to previous periods studied so that the children are able to make comparisons between periods and are aware of the changing nature of ideas and institutions. Units are planned so that the children build a growing understanding of how history is studied and how historians have come to different interpretations of the past. We are mindful of the need for children to be aware of the changing nature of historical thinking.
We have the same level of ambition and expectation of historical knowledge for all our pupils and provide extra support and modified teaching strategies for individuals or groups of pupils where this is needed.
As a school we are committed to developing our children’s ability to articulate their thinking and express their opinions, so our teaching is dialogic and oracy based activities are planned throughout history units. As stated in our School Development Plan (Personal Development): (our aim is for) “The children to be competent in the arts of speaking and listening, making formal presentations, demonstrating to others and participating in debate.” It is important, therefore, that the children experience a wide range of methods of communicating their learning and understanding. We believe that as the children mature, they should take increasing responsibility for their learning, and we are working to develop our teaching on an enquiry- based model.
Teachers are all members of the Historical Association which is a rich source of support for subject and pedagogical knowledge as well as for planning. They also have access to ‘Rising Stars’ history planning which is not used for whole topics, but to supplement teachers’ own planning.
Children’s prior knowledge is assessed informally at the start of each unit to inform planning and a range of formative assessment techniques are employed throughout the unit to monitor knowledge acquisition and development of understanding. The children’s communication of their learning at the end of a unit provides further opportunities for assessment.
Our well-planned history curriculum ensures that children have the opportunity to gain the knowledge and skills that lead to:
- a chronological understanding of British history
- an understanding of some significant aspects of the history of the wider world
- an understanding of, and ability to use, abstract terms with an appreciation of how they have changed over time
- an understanding of historical concepts: continuity and change; cause and consequence; similarity and difference and significance
- an understanding of how historians work and the changing nature of historical thinking