“History is who we are and why we are the way we are.” – David McCullough
History Lead - Mrs Michelle Lawford
Read our History Newsletter here!
At St Dennis Primary Academy, we aim for a high quality, expansive history curriculum which inspires children’s curiosity about the past.
In line with the National Curriculum, we want our children to understand the chronology of British history and how Britain has influenced and been influenced by the wider world. Also, to understand significant events in world history including ancient civilisations, the expansion and dissolution of empires, characteristics of past non-European societies and achievements and follies of mankind.
We aim to develop understanding of abstract terms such as ‘civilisation’, ‘empire’, ‘parliament’ and ‘peasantry’ and to understand the historical concepts of continuity and change, cause and consequence, similarity and difference, and significance whilst considering evidence and interpretations.
We aim to nurture curiosity and a life-long love of history through inspiring experiences. We want our pupils to relish and love learning about history, so children gain knowledge and skills, not just through experiences within the classroom, but also through the use of fieldwork and educational visits.
To ensure high standards of teaching and learning in history, we implement a curriculum that is sequentially planned throughout the whole school.
In the Foundation Stage the main aim is to begin to develop a sense of chronology and an understanding of key vocabulary linked to the passing of time. In line with EYFS curriculum, the children are encouraged to talk about themselves and how they have changed over time. They share stories, handle artefacts and look at pictures to identify similarities and differences and begin to talk about changes. They are encouraged to ask older people, particularly their families, about the past and are introduced to other cultures.
In Key Stage 1 and 2 history, we follow the breadth of the programmes of study of the National Curriculum for history.
Our history lessons focus on developing the skills of being a historian and these are in children’s books as a reminder.
We use the Chris Quigley structure to ensure we implement a coherently planned history curriculum underpinned by our drivers. The four ‘Threshold Concepts’ of 'investigate and interpret the past', 'build an overview of world history', 'understand chronology' and 'communicate historically' are repeated many times.
Each threshold concept has its own facets of knowledge and these enable children to reinforce and build upon prior learning, make connections, and develop subject specific language. These are settlements, beliefs, culture, food and farming, conflict, society, location and travel and exploration (from Chris Quigley History Companion).
Settlements - Throughout history people have organised
themselves into settlements.
• homes (including the types of materials used and construction techniques)
• public facilities (e.g. libraries, bath houses)
• monuments and memorials
• gathering places (e.g. citadels, amphitheatres, town squares)
• the nature of a settlement (e.g. villages, towns, cities)
• important features (e.g. proximity to a river or sea port)
Beliefs - Beliefs often form the basis for day-to-day
routines and practices. By organising knowledge into belief systems, students can begin to understand why people acted as they did.
• pagan practices
• organised religions
• key events
|Culture and Pastimes - Evidence of culture and pastimes exists from some of the earliest civilisations. |
• artists and artisans
• architecture and architects
• plays and theatre
• music and instruments
• great thinkers and big ideas
• stories and books
|Food and Farming - How people throughout history have found food to sustain themselves is an important part of historical knowledge. |
• main food groups (e.g. grains, fish)
• popular foods and dishes
• methods of collection (e.g. hunter-gatherers, farming)
•important technological breakthroughs (e.g. plough – for cultivating land, shaduf – for irrigation)
• use of animals
• trade in foods and spices
|Travel and Exploration - How people have travelled, and how far they have travelled, has developed dramatically throughout history. |
• types of transport and how they were powered (e.g. foot and animals)
• technological advancements and their pioneers
• breakthrough events (e.g. the Moon landings)
• reasons for travel (e.g. to explore, conquer, trade, survive)
• trade routes
• holidays and how they have changed because of transport
|Conflict - Conflict has affected human behaviour throughout history. |
• historic events
• reasons for conflict (e.g. invasions)
• types of conflict (e.g. battles, wars)
• resolutions to conflicts
|Society - Society is the way that groups organise themselves. |
• life for different sections of society (e.g. rich and poor, men and women, adults and children, urban and rural)
• crime and punishment
• health and medicine
• social organisation (e.g. nation states, systems of government)
|Location - Knowing that history involves both time and place is important to overcome misconceptions that events or periods in history were widespread or even global|
• modern geographical locations (e.g. Iran)
• historical geographical locations (e.g. Mesopotamia)
• multiple locations, including the associated terminology (e.g. empire, commonwealth, union)
• movement and its associated terminology (e.g. migration, immigration, invasion, exploration, conquest)
We approach the planning of history through a sequence of lessons that focus on an enquiry question. Our children build knowledge in order to be able to answer the question by the end of the unit. Each unit is based on a type of enquiry:
Continuity and change: Chronologically, over time, what changes or remains the same.
Cause and consequence: What caused an event to happen and what the consequences of the event were.
Similarity and difference: A comparison of two elements of the past. This could be people, societal roles or individuals.
Significance: This means that it is sufficiently great or important enough to be worthy of attention.
The use of sources helps children understand about the past and children have access to a wide range of sources and evidence from which to gather information. As children move through the school, they are taught about how to explore and explain how interpretations developed by historians may differ from one another.
Artefacts and replicas
History underpins many topics and ‘big questions’ which also encourage an enquiry-based approach. Children also have a ‘Stunning Start’ to inspire learning and units often involve a visit, or an expert to enhance learning as real life-experiences are a key driver of our curriculum. Community is also important to us at St Dennis Primary Academy, so families are invited to a ‘Fabulous Finish’ to celebrate and share in their children’s learning and successes.
To support learning, children also have a knowledge organiser in their book and on display, with key learning points, timelines, maps, diagrams, facts and vocabulary. They also take one home so they can share their learning at home. These can also be found on year group pages.
In Key Stage 2, children have a timeline in their books to help them understand that periods in history overlap across the wider world. This also helps them to see the era they are studying in comparison to others previously studied in order to make links and recognise continuity and change.
We are currently developing something similar for Key Stage 1.
Our history curriculum is ambitious for all pupils. The emphasis on practical activities and the use of a range of artefacts and historical sources means that all children can take an active part in history lessons and will learn more effectively with a ‘hands on’ approach.
We also consider ways of minimising and reducing barriers so that all pupils are included and achieve. The areas where we consider varying approaches and adaptations include: maintaining an inclusive learning environment, using multi-sensory approaches (including ICT), working with additional adults, ensuring appropriate scaffolding of tasks, managing peer relationships through particular groupings, using a wide range of recording methods, ensuring clear communication for all needs, and allowing for formative assessment by ensuring learning objectives and outcomes are understood by all children and assessment methods are wide ranging so not reliant on writing ability. At the same time, work and sentence level skills are practised and developed through history which impacts on children’s writing achievements.
Our history curriculum is further enriched with real artefacts from museums, visitors, and visits perhaps to a museum or a site of historical interest which ties in with our curriculum dover of real-life experiences.
Further history is taught through some of our Dazzle Day topics, including a topic on St Dennis that explores the history of our local area.
Year 1 enjoyed role playing the life of Grace Darling and acting as if they were her through hot seating. They asked and answered questions using their prior knowledge.
Year 2's 'Stunning Start' was a coronation to help them to understand the theme of the monarchy.
Year 6's 'Stunning Start' was an evacuee day. They then visited the Bodmin Keep Museum to explore artefacts.
- Children enjoy history lessons and look forward to finding out more
- Children learn research skills that they use independently to further their own enjoyment and fascination about the topic or subject
- Evidence of work shows a range of topics covered and meaningful cross curricular links
- Standards in history are high and match standards in other subjects such as English
- Teacher judgements are discussed and moderated in school
We measure the impact of our curriculum through the following methods:
- Formative assessing of children’s understanding of topic (including vocabulary) before, during and after a unit is taught through a range of methods including mind maps, KWL grids and low-stake quizzes
- Memory Masters sessions to ensure children know more and remember more
- Summative assessment through on-going learning and tasks to assess whether critical knowledge and skills have been committed to long-term memory
- Images and videos of the children’s practical learning
- Interviewing the pupils about their learning (pupil voice) with their books
- Annual reporting to parents of standards across the curriculum
- Marking of written work in books
At St Dennis Primary Academy, British values are embedded in the history curriculum.
Children explore issues such as democracy in their historical context and relate them to the modern day through studying periods such as Ancient Greece. This enables them to understand how, over time, changes happened and to evaluate their impact.
By looking at the achievements of famous British people in Key Stage 1, children develop an awareness of how they have influenced and shaped the country in which we live. This includes an appreciation of their work.
Teaching children to respect and value diversity is encouraged in the day to day teaching and learning through showing respect for different viewpoints and ideas as well as in the ability to work effectively together both individually and in groups.
History involves the mystery of how and why events in the past happened and raises questions as to what could have happened if events had different results. Artefacts are used to give children a sense of the past and aid them in understanding the people who produced and used these objects. Our children are encouraged to explore the role played by important individuals, for good or ill, in the shaping of the world we live in and reflect upon different interpretations of the past.
Children are asked to consider and comment on moral questions and dilemmas. Events and beliefs in the past will often be at odds with what we would consider unacceptable today. Children are encouraged to show compassion for people facing dilemmas and to empathise with decisions which people in the past made and the reasoning behind these decisions. Ideas of right and wrong are explored in connection with events from the past, linking with the value of justice.
Children explore the similarities and differences between past and present societies and are made aware of how, in the main, we are very fortunate to live in the modern world. They examine how other cultures have had a major impact on the development of British culture. Children also be encouraged to build up their own social development through collaborative and team working activities. The study of social issues is a common theme in history lessons.
Children are encouraged to gain an understanding of and empathise with people from different cultural backgrounds. They examine how other cultures have had a major impact on the development of Britain. The contribution of different cultures to human development and progress are studied, which links with the values of mutual respect and tolerance and the respect of opinions and diversity.