The purpose of our history curriculum:
At St John with St Michael CE Primary School, we aim to engage our pupils with a relevant, exciting and challenging History curriculum which inspires curiosity and is designed to:
- Engage pupils in investigating questions about people and events in the past to enable them to better understand their lives today
- Develop skills of critical thinking
- Develop a sound knowledge of chronology, of historical periods and local, national and worldwide events over time.
At St John with St Michael CE Primary School, an important objective is for all pupils to develop as young historians and we achieve this by recognising and planning for what becoming better at History entails. Rather than attempting to teach historical periods, societies, events or significant individuals in the past in their entirety, we ask insightful questions about them, which in turn supports pupils to delve deeply into aspects of historical topics. With this in mind, we have established a school curriculum plan for history as an entitlement for all pupils that is:
- Logical, and broad and balanced in terms of the areas of subject content we have selected. For example, we have ensured that content includes representative investigations of British history spanning the period from the Stone Age to Roman and Viking settlements as well as enquiries focusing on the achievements of ancient civilizations such as the Maya, the Ancient Egyptians and Ancient Greece.
- Relevant in terms of the careful consideration that has been given to the selection of historical enquiries that extend the knowledge and understanding of pupils beyond 1066, for example evaluating the significance of the Battle of Britain and the impact of the British Empire.
- Progressively more challenging Years 1 through 6 both in terms of the complexity of the subject knowledge we want our pupils to acquire and the critical thinking skills we support them to utilise
How we plan to deliver our curriculum:
We adopt an enquiry focused approach to learning and teaching in history which develops our pupils as young historians. We seek to encourage pupils to learn their history through big question led enquiries about significant events, people and changes which allows them sufficient scope and time to really engage in high order subject skills such as developing explanations, reaching conclusions, making judgements, evaluating, applying information learned in one context to another and generating their own ideas and questions to investigate through hypothesising. Key question led enquiries are structured to include several ancillary questions, the completion of which enable the pupils to progress gradually towards arriving at an answer to the overall big question. Whilst knowing more subject information as the pupils’ progress through the school is important, we are careful in our planning to ensure that there is always a balance between new content and the development of important subject skills and the ability of children to think critically about what they are learning and why.
Our curriculum is therefore ‘knowledge rich’ rather than content heavy as we recognise that if we attempt to teach historical topics, places, themes and issues in their entirety we restrict opportunities for pupils to master and apply critical thinking skills and achieve more challenging subject outcomes. Our learning and teaching in history also recognises the importance of the local area with a number of our investigations involving observation, recording, presentation, interpretation and the evaluation of historical information outside of the classroom e.g. significant people, places and events locally. Wherever possible, we provide our pupils with contemporaneous historical evidence including narratives, paintings, photographs, artefacts, and data in the form of censuses and films to analyse and from which to reach conclusions and make judgements.
Each history Unit follows lesson sequence building up to a final presentation/ assessment piece, so the pupils can demonstrate their learning by answer the big question.
The lesson sequence is as follows:
- ‘When & Where’
- ‘Build the Buzz’
- ‘Find the Facts’
- ‘Sift the Source’
- ‘Discover Connections’
- ‘Present & Perform’
The Impact of our history curriculum:
Each enquiry which forms the programme of learning and teaching in history sets clear objectives which define the anticipated outcomes for the pupil. Evidence is drawn from a wide range of sources to inform this process including interaction with pupils during discussions and related questioning, day to day observations, practical activities such as model making and role play drama, the gathering, presentation and communication of fieldwork data and writing.
Medium Term Plans:
Within the Early Years Foundation Stage, History is integral to the Early Learning Goals of Understanding the World and Past and Present. Pupils are encouraged and supported to talk about the lives of people around them and know some similarities and differences between things in the past and now. In Key Stage 1 and 2 each year group undertakes three half termly enquiries in history. Each of these enquiries is informed by a detailed Medium-Term Plan which details the objectives, vocabulary, learning and teaching activities and methods of assessment and recording adopted each half term.