At Spring Gardens, our History curriculum is undertaken whole-heartedly and is designed to ignite children’s curiosity about the past. Our aims are to secure the development of specific historical skills and historical knowledge, however, we also recognise that the skills, concepts and processes involved in learning history, can help to inspire thoughtful, respectful, principled and confident citizens. Our teaching fosters a sense of identity through the understanding of their place in the community; a sense of security through understanding change over time; tolerance through respect for, and acceptance of difference; and judgement through developing critical attitude to opinion and a respect for evidence.
The content of our curriculum has been carefully organised to allow children to develop a secure knowledge of the past and make links between different periods of time, as well as different societies. To allow children to build on this knowledge, our history long term plan is organised into a progression model that outlines the skills, knowledge and vocabulary to be taught in a sequentially coherent way. Chronological understanding; knowledge and understanding of people and events, historical enquiry, historical interpretations, historical concepts and organisation and communication are all mapped out to ensure that new knowledge and skills build on what has previously been taught.
As a school, we recognise that the teaching of all subjects, including history, is inclusive and promotes equality of opportunity for all children. Teaching and learning is adapted, where needed, in order to meet the needs of all children so that every child has access to the curriculum and can achieve success.
From Early Years Foundation Stage, to the end of Key Stage Two, children are taught about various historical events, where they take place within a historical timeline and famous historical figures. Children are encouraged to ask questions about the past, analyse evidence when considering primary and secondary sources, think critically, appreciate different perspectives and develop informed judgements. They are encouraged to think like ‘historians’ and become ‘history detectives’ to find out about the past.
Units of study are blocked and taught weekly over a half term which allows children to focus on developing their knowledge and skills through an in depth study. Each unit begins by recalling knowledge from previous learning to support children in making connections. Timelines are used within the classroom to refer back to prior learning and develop chronological understanding.
Initial lessons are introduced through a BIG question to hook and engage children. Before any teaching begins, children complete a KWL grid which allows the teacher to assess any prior knowledge and also offers the children an opportunity to ask their own questions for enquiry. Due to lower than expected starting points in learning, vocabulary has been identified as a focus area at Spring Gardens. Teachers model subject-specific vocabulary in context, as well as knowledge and skills relevant to their learning. This allows children to integrate new knowledge into larger concepts. Both fiction and non-fiction texts are readily available to use in the classroom to support and develop children’s historical understanding and vocabulary.
To enrich the children’s learning and to create more meaningful links and opportunities, educational visits or visitors in school are planned for each topic where possible. Local visits are planned, where appropriate, in order to link the children’s historical learning to changes within their own local area. Teachers also try to include the use of artefacts within lessons to allow children to see and handle these keys to unlocking the past. The variety of learning experiences offered create memorable learning opportunities to further support and develop children’s understanding.
History assessment is ongoing throughout each historical unit and informs teachers in planning engaging and challenging lessons. These are differentiated to ensure all children’s needs are valued and met. Summative assessment is completed in the form of a ‘hot’ task, whether that be writing, drawing, sorting, sequencing or labelling, and will assess a particular historical skill that the children have focused on during lessons. These are used, along with progression grids and pupil voice, to support teachers in making accurate judgements of children’s historical knowledge and the historical skills they are able to use.
Through quality first teaching, careful planning, and opportunities for outdoor experiences, our aim is for children to develop as historians and be aware of the skills they need to become one. Outcomes in children’s books evidence a broad and balanced history curriculum as well as attainment of identified key knowledge and skills. Evidence of learning is also highlighted when the children return to the KWL grids to explain new learning that has taken place.
As well as children’s work books, planning also demonstrates that a range of topics are covered and that cross curricular links are made wherever possible. Tasks planned are both challenging and supportive where appropriate.
Pupil voice has shown that children enjoy learning about history and are able to talk about the skills and knowledge they have acquired. They will be able to retain prior-learning and explicitly make connections between what they have previously learned and what they are currently learning.
Assessments and monitoring show expectations in History are high and match standards in other subject areas.