Our history curriculum is designed to ignite children’s curiosity and excitement about the past. We aim to provide children with contextual knowledge related to the topics they are studying, whilst teaching the skills necessary for our pupils to develop a deeper understanding of the past and how it has influenced the world around them. These skills will enable them to ask and answer historical questions and to develop their understanding of chronology, change and continuity. We want to provide children with the tools to be able to talk about, analyse and interpret the significance of important historical people, events and civilisations. Children will also learn how to use historical evidence effectively.
Our history curriculum focuses on many of the significant eras in British and world history. It has been designed so that the children can begin to make connections between different historical periods and peoples, thereby deepening their understanding of how the past has affected the world today on a local, national or international level.
We want children to be excited about the past. Children “dive” into their history topics during immersive focus weeks twice a year. This means that interest in the topic remains high and teachers can build on knowledge quickly by encouraging children to make links between the learning they have done across the week as well as in previous topics.
We have designed progression documents to ensure that the teaching of history is consistent across school and that the children’s knowledge and historical skills are developing across the year groups. Each topic is centred around an enquiry question. Whilst we feel that it is important for the children to gain a contextual understanding of the peoples, events and civilisations that they are learning about, it is also important that teaching and learning remains tightly focused across the focus week. Therefore, children in Year 4 at Lowtown are not ‘doing the Romans’ but are instead conducting an in-depth study on the Roman impact on Britain. By the end of the topic, children are able to answer their enquiry question by utilising the wealth of knowledge that they have accumulated across the week.
We also plan educational visits which link to our topics. These allow children to transport themselves back into the era they are studying so that they can gain a deeper understanding into the lives of peoples who lived in the past. We believe these experiences are particularly memorable and that they enable children to retain knowledge from the topic beyond the History focus week. This is also known as ‘sticky knowledge’.
At the beginning of each topic children are given a knowledge mat centred around the topic they will be studying. This knowledge mat will include key vocabulary and definitions as well as relevant pictures, sources or texts. It also features a section on ‘sticky knowledge’ that the children will learn about during the focus week and will retain beyond that. Knowledge mats allow teachers to make links between, and build on knowledge from, topics and year groups as they have a clear understanding of what children have been previously taught and the knowledge they should have retained.
Chronology is an important aspect in the teaching of History at Lowtown. In Early Years, children begin their historical education talking about their own history and looking at how they have changed since they were babies. In Year 1, children develop their historical understanding by comparing the present with periods of time within living memory - looking at how life was different for their parents and grandparents. They will then look beyond living memory and find out about Florence Nightingale and how she made a lasting impact on nursing today. This leads into Year 2’s topic on life in Leeds during the Victorian period. Further developing the children’s understanding of chronology, Year 2 also look at significant explorers through time, focusing on the similarities and differences between Neil Armstrong and Christopher Columbus.
Throughout Key Stage Two during our first focus week, children will learn about the history of Britain in chronological order from the Stone Age to the Viking invasions. During the second focus week, children will build on their chronological understanding by learning about different civilisations from across the world; from the Ancient Egyptians to The Mayans. Year 4 will complete an overview study by considering how crime and punishment has changed from the Norman invasion of 1066 to the present day.
Where appropriate, cross-curricular links are made between the literary texts which are studied in class, for example, when studying ‘Friend or Foe’, Year 4 will also consider the impact of World War II on children.
At the start of each topic, teachers plan a pre-unit activity which links to previous learning. This allows them to assess children’s historical understanding. Children then show their learning from the unit in a post-unit task which will be linked to the enquiry question.
Children’s learning will be also assessed through discussion with pupils and evidence of learning in books. Teacher judgements for each child are then recorded on a History tracker to enable teachers to make accurate judgements at the end of each key stage.
History Skill Progression