Learning from the past to form a better future
At Hadley Wood Primary School, history forms an integral part of our wider curriculum. We want to teach our children to understand our past so that we can make thoughtful observations and judgements about it. Therefore, we believe that by learning about the past, we can better understand the world we live in today and make informed decisions about the impact we have on the future. Central to our approach to teaching history, is a belief that it is far more than a list of dates and events that must be memorised. We use an enquiry-based approach to explore the past and learn about key periods. Within our classrooms, we follow these rich lines of enquiry, which has a Big Question, for each half term, such as “Raiders or Settlers: how should we remember the Vikings?” Studying history in this way inspires children’s curiosity, encourages them to ask critical questions and enables them to have a better understanding of the society in which they live and that of the wider world.
How we plan for and teach history:
In our History curriculum, we have thought about key threads that run through the units of learning. This provides the building blocks to acquire further knowledge. In Key Stage 1 these focus on having a secure understanding of chronology, key events and people who have shaped the world. In Key Stage 2 these include invasion and settlement, legacy, empire, civilisation, and society. By carefully mapping these themes across the units and revisiting them in different sequences of learning, we will help children gain historical perspective by placing their growing knowledge into different contexts, understanding the connections between local, regional, national and international history; and between short- and long-term timescales.
At Hadley Wood Primary School, history is embedded in our topic-based approach to learning in EYFS and KS1. In KS2, history is taught once each term. Teachers plan sequences of lessons across the unit that will build on and develop the children’s knowledge and skills. In Key Stage 1, our curriculum is mapped to enable children to develop an awareness of the past, using common words and phrases relating to the passing of time. They will start to know where the people and events they study fit within a chronological framework and identify similarities and differences between ways of life in different periods. As they progress through the key stage, they will demonstrate a growing confidence and accuracy when using historical vocabulary, such as explorer and artefact.
In Key Stage 2, children will continue to develop a chronologically secure knowledge and understanding of British, local and world history, establishing clear narratives within and across the periods they study. This chronology, or sequence of events, will be referred to throughout KS2 so that children become secure in their understanding of important historical events and eras. It will also enable them to begin to identify trends over time and develop the appropriate use of historical terms such as ancient and civilisation. The explicit mapping and rigorous teaching of vocabulary ensures that children can gain and deploy a historically grounded understanding of abstract terms such as ‘empire’ or ‘parliament’.
Carefully selected skills are chosen to best match each unit of knowledge and progress year on year. Opportunities to practise and embed skills are planned for so that they are revisited and refined over time. The knowledge and skills that children will develop throughout each history topic are mapped across each year group and across the school to ensure progression.
We also maximise the opportunities that London has to offer in terms of its rich history and vast array of museums and cultural sites. Therefore, children’s learning in history is enriched by visits to carefully selected museums, where workshops and visit materials deepen their understanding and knowledge. Teachers are also able to use the Historical Association’s and Key Stage History’s wealth of resources to develop their subject knowledge and plan engaging learning opportunities.
We arrange special events such ‘History Days’ where children and staff dress up as famous people from different periods in history. Such events ensure that learning is brought to life and children enjoy opportunities to ‘hot seat’ historical figures or to consider how to arrange famous people in chronological order.
We also undertake educational visits and workshops as we believe that trips to Roman theatres or Tudor palaces, for example, engage the children and give them opportunities to actively participate in historical enquiry.
How we evaluate learning in history:
The impact of our History curriculum can clearly be seen in the children’s Humanities books. Our rich History curriculum is also evident in the texts that we have selected for our children to read, displays in our classrooms, class assemblies where children share their knowledge with their parents and the historical narratives our children recount. The curriculum overview outlines the enquiry questions – that the children will investigate and answer during their learning. The opportunity to evaluate and reflect on the learning is planned for regularly to enable the children to see how their learning is progressing. At the end of each unit the children have the opportunity to showcase their learning by answering the Big Question that has been studied throughout the unit to showcase the progress in knowledge and skills.
Below are some quotations from our pupils on how they feel about our history curriculum:
Faris says, “Learning about history is interesting because I get to learn from the past and think about different sources of information. In Year 3 we studied the Stone Age, Bronze Age and Iron Age. We had the opportunity to see how life developed during these time periods and think knowledge is going to help us better understand the topic of invasion when we learn about the Roman and Egyptian empires in Year 4.”
Ethan says, “History is really interesting because you can make links between fiction and non fiction books and historical evidence. Reading allows you to better understand the subject and gives me a head start in my learning. I am really enjoying learning about, “How have the Ancient Greeks influenced the Modern Western World?” because it is allowing me to consider how life would be different today without their advances in society and technology.”