History Curriculum at St Eanswythe’s
Rationale and National Curriculum Coverage
Taken from the National Curriculum in England:
‘Purpose of study:
A high-quality history education will help pupils gain a coherent knowledge and understanding of Britain’s past and that of the wider world. It should inspire pupils’ curiosity to know more about the past. Teaching should equip pupils to ask perceptive questions, think critically, weigh evidence, sift arguments, and develop perspective and judgement. History helps pupils to understand the complexity of people’s lives, the process of change, the diversity of societies and relationships between different groups, as well as their own identity and the challenges of their time.’
At St. Eanswythe’s we have a dedicated and passionate team of staff who value all areas of the curriculum and strive to deliver a wide range of lessons using a thorough, and holistic approach in the enabling of learning. We are named after a historical figure, a Saxon book clasp was found when the playground was excavated, and the church we visit every term is so rich in the history of our town. History is so frequently woven into school life at St. Eanswythe’s that is really part of who we are. We follow the National Curriculum for History. We use the Primary Knowledge Curriculum (PKC) scheme to support our teaching of History. The Primary Knowledge Curriculum aspires to create curious and knowledgeable young people, who hold a deep understanding and appreciation of the discipline of history, and are able to sift and weigh evidence to begin to formulate their own viewpoints and perspectives of the world.
The PKC history curriculum has been designed to be both knowledge-rich and coherently sequenced. Knowledge, in the realm of history, means not only substantive knowledge of historical events, dates and people in the past, but also knowledge of substantive concepts in history (such as ‘empire’, ‘monarchy’ and ‘civil war’), and disciplinary historical concepts (such as evidence, causation, significance and interpretation).
The PKC history curriculum allows children to develop a chronologically secure knowledge and understanding of local, British and world history. The substantive knowledge taught in the curriculum has been carefully chosen and sequenced using a largely chronological approach. Each unit of work is viewed as a chapter in the story of the history of Britain and the wider world. In this sense, the chronological approach provides a solid framework, anchoring each unit within a wider narrative. Understanding in history requires an understanding of causation. This allows children to understand the causes of significant national and global events, (such as World War I), when they have some background knowledge of what happened before (such as the origins and growth of European empires, including the British Empire).
Knowledge of substantive concepts and disciplinary concepts have been interleaved across the curriculum, allowing children to encounter and apply these in different contexts. From year to year, unit to unit, lesson to lesson, the curriculum supports children in making connections and building upon prior substantive and disciplinary knowledge. For example, the children develop a secure understanding of ‘monarchy’ in Britain. They begin to learn about British monarchs in Year 1, and build upon their knowledge of monarchy in British society throughout the curriculum, looking at the reigns of significant monarchs such as Henry II, Henry VIII and Queen Elizabeth I, with a focus on understanding the transition from the autocratic and unlimited power of early monarchs to the limited constitutional role of contemporary British monarchs. Each British history unit allows children to add to their understanding of ‘monarchy’ in Britain, the impact it had on the lives of the British people, and analyse the significance and legacy of each monarch.
Our History curriculum is balanced to enable children to look in some depth at local, national and world history, encouraging children to explore the connection between significant events and people and how they have influenced the modern world. The content in the curriculum ensures children have a secure overview of a period, before studying aspects in more depth. We use our local area as much as possible, taking children to Folkestone Museum, Dover Museum, Penshurst Place, Tudor Castles such as Walmer or Deal, as well as trips further afield to London to allow children the opportunity to see History come alive.
The curriculum aims to help children understand how the past is constructed and contested. Children begin by learning about what a historian does, looking at basic sources and simplified perspectives to develop an appreciation and understanding of what it means to be a historian. As their substantive knowledge grows, children will be able to ask perceptive questions, analyse more complex sources and begin to use their knowledge to develop perspective. Disciplinary concepts, such as continuity and change, cause and consequence and similarity, difference and significance, are explored in every unit, and children are supported to think outside of their current unit of work and apply these concepts across the curriculum.
The curriculum aims to ignite children’s love for history, preparing them with essential knowledge for Key Stage 3 and beyond. All history is worth studying, but as we do not have the time to cover everything, the units have been carefully chosen to cover as wide ranging content as possible without compromising depth. From ancient civilisations and prehistoric Britain to the Civil Rights Movement; looking at law and power across the ages to the impacts of industrialisation and technological advances; understanding invasion and migration, exploitation and political movements for freedom and equality. The curriculum aims to introduce the children to a wide variety of men, women and children from the past; from the widely venerated, to the lives of the less well-known who offer us a rich insight into life at the time- from Aristotle to Martin Luther King, from Emmeline Pankhurst to Alan Turning.
Assessment of history is on-going throughout a pupil’s school journey. The teaching of history is assessed by the class teacher during and after lessons with both verbal and written feedback given when appropriate. Evidence of the learning is dependent on the lesson outcome, year group and the skills and knowledge being developed. Throughout the course of the lesson the class teacher will move around the class, offering support where needed so that each child receives direct feedback and the appropriate level of challenge.
History is assessed using quizzes and in class assessments at the end of a topic to assess their knowledge. This is used to inform future planning and starters in lessons where pupils recap and review previous learning e.g. through a history timeline with the key facts.
Our curriculum allows pupils to feel like they have gained understanding of the past and they can form their own judgements using a wide range of sources to support them. Their opinions will be heard and valued. Through the teaching of past events, pupils will develop empathy and compassion for others and some understanding of the wider community and world we live in. The impact of history lessons should leave pupils with a deeper moral, spiritual and cultural understanding of the world.