At St Andrew’s Primary School, we aim to deliver a history curriculum that is accessible to all and that will maximise the outcomes for every child so that they know and understand more about our world and how it has come to be the place it is today. Our teaching of history will help pupils gain a secure knowledge and understanding of Britain’s past and that of the wider world. The curriculum is structured in a way that allows for children to make links between current and previous learning. Teachers use the long-term plans for history to make comparisons between historical periods previously taught, developing children’s chronological knowledge and understanding from the earliest civilisations to present day.
We want children to be curious to know more about the past and to have the skills required to explore their own interests. History lessons focus on working as historians and developing historical enquiry skills and there are many opportunities for the curriculum to be enriched through historical visits, visitors and events held in school.
We aim to enable children to ask perceptive questions, think critically, weigh evidence, discuss arguments, develop perspective and judgement. It is important for children to develop a sense of identity through learning about the past and we want them to know how history has shaped their own lives and others, opening up to them the diversity of world history as well as our local community. This is why the local area is fully utilised to achieve the curriculum outcomes, so that by the end of KS2 children will understand their locality.
History is taught in blocks throughout the year, so that children achieve depth in their learning. We have worked to identify the key knowledge and skills of each topic and consideration has been given to ensure progression across topics throughout each year group across the school. By the end of year 6, children will have a chronological understanding of British history from the stone age to the present day. Teachers plan using key enquiry questions from the topic and for each lesson, so as children develop more understanding and skills in history, they are supported to start to make comparisons and connections independently between different time periods and their own lives.
This starts in the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) where we follow the ‘Development Matters in the EYFS’ guidance which aims for all children in Foundation Stage to have an ‘Understanding of the World’; people and communities, the world and technology and past and present. Here children take part in both whole class, focused adult led groups and continuous provision, where they are able to explore themselves and their families as a part of their own family history and then branch this out through looking at stories and texts which are rooted in history as well as topics which look at the earliest evidence of history and explore the role and job of a historian.
This continues in key stage one, where children look at the lives and achievements of significant individuals and key historical events. This allows them to continue their development of understanding the substantive knowledge of key historical concepts such as ‘Monarchy’, ‘Empire and Invasion’, ‘Settlements and Social History’ and ‘Communication and Invention’ that will continue to be built upon throughout their time learning history at St Andrew’s.
Moving into KS2, history is expanded to look at studies of world history, such as the ancient civilisations of Greece, Egypt and Maya. In contrast with this are units such as the Romans, Anglo-Saxons and Vikings, Tudors and WW2, where children have the opportunity to gain a deeper understanding of key British historical eras and British history links to other cultures and countries. In addition to this, in UKS2 there are opportunities for children to further develop their understanding of chronology through thematic units, where learning across historical eras can be built on and joined together when learning about themes such as ‘Crime and Punishment’.
Cross-curricular outcomes in history are specifically planned for, with many topics taking a history focus and therefore used as the starting point for learning across many subjects, including some literacy lessons, enabling further contextual learning. Children record their learning using a topic book, as this supports us to show the learning journey children take throughout the unit and this is also represented on class topic displays, where cross-curricular learning is collated as children meet each new experience.
The local area and neighbouring regions are also fully utilised to achieve the desired outcomes, with extensive opportunities for learning outside our school environment through educational visits to bring their learning in the classroom to life an ensure children make meaningful connections with themselves and the past.
History lessons at St Andrew’s offer a range of tasks and activities, which promote historical enquiry skills. We make use of Essex libraries artefact boxes to enhance learning and develop children’s understanding of historical sources and their use in investigating the past. Our topic approach means that children take part in engaging ‘hook’ lessons and activities which may link into history as well as an opportunity to express what they have learnt and share this with parents through open evenings and planned assemblies and events that parents are invited to.