Our history curriculum develops our children’s thirst for knowledge about the past at a local, national and international level. Our curriculum content, knowledge and language is ambitious. We believe that our youngest children can understand the passing of time and are able to develop a sense of chronology. Ambitious vocabulary is taught to our children to support them in understanding of the history they are learning about as well as comprehending and responding to texts they will experience. This also equips them with having the accurate language to explain and question their understanding of the past.
Our history teaching in based on educational research, where children develop skills, knowledge and language coherently, as they move through the school. Spaced practice allows children to reflect on their previous learning, as well as build new knowledge cumulatively during their time at Spring Meadow. From Nursery, children begin to develop their understanding of key substantive historical concepts such as monarchy, law, and power, which they revisit throughout their time at Spring Meadow. As children progress through the school they deepen their understanding of these concepts and are introduced to more complex concepts such as rebellion, empire, protest, civil rights, and equality, which provides the foundations for the Key Stage 2 history curriculum.
Children learn from the achievements of people from around the world in the past and see how these people have shaped the world so they can shape the future and became informed, global citizens. The children learn that historians study the lives of significant people and look at what they say and do, and evaluate the contributions they have made to national and international achievements. Through learning about how people locally and internationally showed resilience and kindness when faced with challenges in the past, we want this to inspire our children to show resilience and creative problem solving in their own lives, giving the children the opportunity to contribute to their community.
As well as learning about powerful and significant people in time, such as monarchs and prime ministers, children also learn about those who were not born into powerful positions but were able to use their voices to spread their beliefs to influence change. Some of the individuals studied, such as Greta Thunberg, are still alive today and continue to be making change in the world. We also want to develop our children’s awareness of diversity throughout history, both within our national history but also the international history of other countries and cultures which will make our children aware of the racial inequality throughout the world’s history.
We follow a core knowledge curriculum, which has created a methodical sequence for children to build on their knowledge year by year as they move through the school. Staff are supported in their teaching and planning by the history subject leader to ensure that progress is consistent in the children’s history learning. Knowledge organisers are the key to providing children with core knowledge of different eras and will also support the teacher’s knowledge that they can pass through their teaching. These are shared with parents/carers to support history at home and strengthen relationships between home and school. Adults at home are able to expand children’s historical learning with their own experiences alongside supporting newly acquired knowledge from school.
As children learn new vocabulary, knowledge and concepts, these will be recapped on in later years to consolidate learning as our history is linked in many ways. For example, the concept of chronology begins in Nursery, with children developing their understanding of their own families, in Reception is developed into the concept of family trees, in Year 1 this is developed through other family trees such as current British The Royal Family and in Year 2 children learn about the Tudor family tree, where they deepen their understanding of how Britain in the past was ruled by powerful dynasties, where power was inherited and passed down through generations, predominantly through the male line. Children also find out about ordinary people at this time as well, allowing children to compare and contrast life between the rich and poor and also between men and women. This is theme which is explored across our history curriculum and aims to inspire children to discuss social inequality and discrimination.
New historical vocabulary is explicitly taught at the beginning of each history lesson and previously taught vocabulary is recapped to aid that vocabulary becoming part of the children’s long term memory. The curriculum develops communication skills, both written and verbal being inclusive of everyone’s views and opinions + reading skills at the core of what we do. Alongside this knowledge, we also teach our children to be historians and how to study the past. Children will begin to understand what historians do and archaeologists do, that history is a process of finding out what happened in the past and how that can help us explain the world around us. We focus on comparing past eras to what we know today, artefacts that we have and can teach us about the culture and lives of people in history and how to ask probing questions to extend our knowledge and unpick more of our history.
History lessons are brought to life through rich modelled language, stories, songs, rhymes and role play, where there are frequent opportunities to use and apply new vocabulary. We want children to physically experience history through the use of local resources, holding artefacts and through meeting people who can tell historical stories. The children are supported to use real historical sources, such as a portrait commissioned by Elizabeth 1 of the young Henry VIII, to understand how historians find out about the past. When learning about Romans in Britain, children visit Ely’s local museum to handle and observe locally found Roman artefacts. They learn that the Romans left their influence on the way we speak, read and write and how they shaped the towns and the roads that we currently use. This prepares the children for KS2, where they will be able to use what they know about the Romans in Britain when they learn about Prehistoric Britain, the Anglo Saxons and the Vikings, which will help the children to develop a sense of chronology and develop a deeper understanding of life in Britain before and after the Roman invasion.
The key knowledge, skills and language are revisited throughout children’s learning using mini plenaries, key assessment questioning and recaps to allow teachers to be responsive to the children’s learning. At the end of a unit of work, our children’s accumulated historical knowledge is assessed which may take the form of quizzes linked to the core knowledge in each era, a written task or historical investigation. The history subject leader monitors the teaching and learning of history throughout the year through learning walks, outcome scrutinies and discussions with children from across the school to find out what they enjoy and know about in history. This evaluation of the teaching and learning of history within the school informs them of next steps to be taken in further raising standards in history.
Our children leave our school confident in their knowledge of many aspects of history, as well as understanding the progression of time and chronology. The knowledge, skills and language they have learnt will prepare them for the content of the Key Stage 2 history curriculum. We want our children to think about amazing things people have done in the past so that they may be inspired to do amazing things themselves.