The history curriculum at our school aims to ‘bridge the gap’ and to give children of all backgrounds the powerful cultural capital they need to understand the world in which they are growing up and enables them to become educated and successful citizens of the world. Pupils are encouraged to develop a chronological framework of History that will enable them to make sense of the new knowledge they acquire as well as recalling prior knowledge in order to make connections. For example, Year 2 cover The Great Fire of London where there is a requirement for children to understand the term of ‘city’. This prior knowledge is then built upon in Year 5 when studying cities in ancient Greece. Similarly, historical themes such as migration can be seen across year groups for example, Year 3 studying the settling of Stone Age people is drawn upon again in Year 6 when looking at the settling of the Vikings. History’s unique concepts and webs of meaning help pupils to construct arguments and support them to become analytical citizens who can question human motivation and society with skill and confidence. This will also allow them to understand the process of change, to see how we arrived ‘here’ and help them to make sense of the present.
We want pupils to realise that history is constructed and contested. Through a consistent focus on the validity and use of sources, children will be able to build upon their knowledge of how to analyse and gain information from a variety of primary and secondary sources. Other key historical skills are built upon throughout children’s studying of history such as research, communicating information and using key vocabulary accurately.
The historical knowledge children will gain throughout their time in Allfarthing can be divided into two types: Substantive knowledge (which looks at the scope and sequencing on content) and disciplinary knowledge (which looks at major ideas that shape the way history is understood e.g. cause and effect). In order to encourage children to use both types of knowledge, our topic headings are phrased as questions in order to encourage historical enquiry and the moving away from pure regurgitation of knowledge into a process of investigation.
Abstract historical terms are used as a curriculum driver that informs our historical planning. For example, the idea of an ‘empire’ can be seen in KS1 topics based on Mary Secole. Although Jamaican born, she saw herself as British and part of the British Empire. This then lays the foundation for future learning around the term ‘empire’ – in Year 3 the Egyptian empire, Year 4 the roman empire, Year 5 the Victorian and Greek empire. This all leads to Year 6 learning where they could consider the question, ‘did the Vikings establish an empire through their migratory progress?’ This understanding of abstract historical terms, in this case empire, throughout history and building up of knowledge allows children to make connections, find similarities and difference and note trends. In Allfarthing, we plan for these strands of understanding to run through the curriculum so children don’t just have a definition but can also give examples of what they have studied, explain the similarities/differences and make generalisations. Through the use of sources throughout historical learning, children are also shown how our history knowledge is constructed from both original sources as well as interpretations of history. This construction of our historical knowledge influences the children’s understanding of historical enquiry such as cause and consequence, change and continuity, similarity and difference, handling evidence and historical significance
In order to adapt our teaching and planning and ensure we are enabling children to progress, at the start of each new topic, there is a recap and/or informal assessment of each student’s prior knowledge. This can be done through knowledge harvests, topic quizzes, and planning is subsequently adapted in order to ensure both support and challenge is provided as necessary.
By the time children leave Allfarthing, they should be equipped with the historical knowledge outlined in the National Curriculum. We aim for children to be confident with the historical skills such as using sources, asking questions and comparing different periods. We hope to produce inquisitive and analytical historians who can apply their knowledge well. The impact of their historical knowledge will typically be seen in written pieces at the end of each topic and through informal assessment and observation of discussion and ideas expressed in lessons. Most importantly, we aim for all our children to leave Allfarthing with a passion for, and enjoyment of, history with an in depth knowledge about the past.