At Alston Primary School, our high-quality history curriculum will help our children gain a coherent knowledge and understanding of Britain’s past and that of the wider world. It will inspire our children’s curiosity to know more about the past. We aim to encourage children to ask perceptive questions, think critically, weigh evidence, shift arguments and develop perspective and judgement. Knowing and understanding history will help our children to process the concept of change, the diversity of societies and the relationships between different groups, as well as learning about their own identity.
The history curriculum at Alston Primary School uses the National Curriculum as a basis for its content and framework. The generic key historical concepts of continuity and change, cause and consequence, similarity, difference and significance run through the curriculum. Children will develop their chronological knowledge and knowledge and understanding of our country and the wider world, as outlined in the N.C.. Teachers have access to the Rising Stars scheme and the National History Association to support the delivery of our History Curriculum.
Children will develop coherent knowledge and understanding of key aspects of Britain’s past and that of the wider world. This will provide them with a foundation of knowledge that will help them understand how the world has come to be how it is today. Children moving on to secondary school will have learnt to think critically, evaluate evidence and develop perspective and judgement; all key skills needed to become a good citizen of the world
Units of work begins with a geographical activity to orientate children to the place before learning about its history. Knowledge learnt in KS1 provides a foundation for concepts taught in KS2. Y1 history centres around aspects closer in time to children’s own experiences. Y2 history begins to look at more abstract ideas which are further away from a child’s own experiences. In KS2, the curriculum gives pupils a strong grounding in British history, from the Stone Age to the Iron Age, the first settlements through Roman Britain, the Vikings, Anglo-Saxon, and World War Two. While studying these periods, the units explore themes of change and continuity, perspective and power.
Young (2008) says that knowledge is crucial for social justice. All children have a right to know and remember the powerful knowledge and key vocabulary identified in our curriculum. To this end, we use knowledge organisers to capture this and are committed to ensuring all children master it. Retrieval practice is key to achieving this goal and is incorporated into our day-to-day teaching. With this in mind each topic has a significant person/event that forms a golden thread throughout the teaching and learning and it reflects the diverse backgrounds of the pupils at Alston Primary School and beyond. This builds upon cultural capital whilst enhancing pupil engagement and experiences.
Our local area is utilised to support the teaching of history. Two local history units at explore the history of Birmingham (year 3 ‘Birmingham’ and the impact of WW2 on Birmingham in year 6). Birmingham and the surrounding area has a wealth of local museums which are used to support the teaching of history and to enable children to see first-hand evidence of the past.
History is primarily taught through direct, explicit instruction, practice and then feedback. This has been supported by research which has shown that this is the most effective and efficient way of teaching new concepts and skills. Guided, independent and retrieval practice, as described by Rosenshine and rooted in cognitive science, are used, where appropriate, to ensure children remember the key knowledge and are able to use this in activities that require deeper thinking.
The demonstration of good subject and curriculum knowledge is a requirement in the DfE teaching standards. To this end, it is expected that teachers whose curriculum knowledge is not sufficiently developed will take steps to address this gap (e.g. through reading or using the support materials supplied by Rising Stars/National History Association and other materials). The History Leader through CPD and regular meetings/moderations ensures that teachers have the required level of expert knowledge so that explanations are clear and accurate, and children's misconceptions are anticipated and addressed as they arise.
Discussion (both pupil to pupil and pupil to teacher) has an important role in the development of historical ideas. Effective questioning by the teacher is key to allow pupils to practise new knowledge and to help them make links between new material and prior learning (Rosenshine). Essentially, through these opportunities for talk, key vocabulary, and so core knowledge, is truly mastered.
Knowledge organisers set out the powerful knowledge, core vocabulary and big ideas that all children are expected to master. The first lesson for each unit of work is used to review the ideas and knowledge mastered in previous units, ready for their development in the new one. Opportunities for retrieval practice are included in History lessons and knowledge review lessons to ensure knowledge is transferred into long-term memory. Retrieval activities may require children to remember learning from the previous lesson, previous topic or even previous year to ensure the retrieval strength of powerful knowledge is high.
Formative assessment is essential in the implementation of the history curriculum to ensure that all children are developing the declarative and procedural knowledge needed. Effective questioning, plays a fundamental role in checking for understanding and ensuring misconceptions are addressed. Learning outcomes are used and are given in the form of questions in lieu of learning objectives to provide scope and curiosity and this is underpinned by posing a key enquiry question throughout each topic.
Formative assessment (William 2011) is used in history to support and promote deep learning. Specific recall activities like quizzes, are used to enable teachers and children to monitor the depth of understanding of core procedural and declarative knowledge and the strength of its retrieval. This formative assessment is used to inform future planning, including the planning of weekly knowledge review lessons.
Currently no performance data must be registered with the DfE. Data is not collected in the same way as for other subject areas. Data for history is generated through teacher knowledge of the pupils’ understanding gained through AFL strategies. Teachers make judgements on whether children have understood the learning opportunities.
Pupils’ work, in written and photographic forms, is used to secure and demonstrate children’s learning. It informs teacher assessment, both formative and summative, and is used by subject leaders as part of the monitoring process. Children will have opportunities to ‘work like a historian’ by: using historical vocabulary in their speech and writing; looking at and evaluating sources of evidence; constructing arguments.
The subject leader talks to pupils about their learning as part of the monitoring process. Children’s books and knowledge organisers are used to guide discussion and provide the subject leader with the information required to measure how much of the powerful knowledge and core vocabulary has been remembered and understood.