History at Greenacres
"What I have always loved best about the history of the world is that it is true. What is more, what did happen is often far more exciting and amazing than anything we could invent.”
History is made daily, and the breadth of learning about the past increases exponentially. The study of the past helps children make sense of the way society has evolved and to understand the change going on around them. It is our intention to give pupils a broad understanding of human history, from the earliest times when humans first emerged, to the incredible advances and upheavals of the past century. To develop history as a discipline, children need to utilise both their historical knowledge (names, dates, facts) and their historical skills (evaluating, comparing, interpreting).
Our history curriculum has been organised along several principles:
- Chronology – the necessity to teach pupils about the sequence of events in history
- Theme – how certain historical themes are carried from one unit to the next, or between year groups
- Context – the understanding that the study of history is not divorced from pupils’ contexts in terms of time and location
In the Early Years, history is analogous with other aspects of knowledge and understanding of the world. Building on the foundations laid in nursery and reception, the emphasis in Key Stage 1 is on building an awareness of past and the passage of time, as they begin to use historical skills alongside their growing historical knowledge. Some famous historical events and people are studied to help build a framework of history as a linear sequence of events that belong to a chronology. Children look at primary historical sources such as physical artefacts to help them think about how life differed for people who lived in different periods. The chronological relationship (how long ago some things occurred, how recently other things happened) between significant events are reinforced with timelines. The experiences and changes within the local community are considered to help them appreciate changes that have occurred within living memory.
In Key Stage 2, children begin to develop a more sophisticated understanding of the connections and contrasts throughout history. Broad historical arcs (e.g. prehistory, Ancient Egypt) as well as in-depth focused studies (such as the nineteenth century and world-changing events like World War II) are used to as lenses through which we develop children’s sense of the past. With reference to these epochs and events, concepts of causation, change and significance are studied. These abstract terms become used more regularly in lessons. Secondary sources are increasingly used in KS2, and with them some consideration of the intention of the writer and historiography (the writing of history).
Each history unit opens with a ‘big question’ that children will explore and ultimately be able to answer, as they complete further focused historical enquiries along the way. For example, in Year 4 pupils concentrate their learning on the British Isles and how subsequent invasions and settlers shaped society. In Year 5, more recent historical events are learned of, with their impact through the lens of Oldham. Then in Year 6, pupils expand their range to consider far away civilisations that never approached these shores. From the pupils’ perspective, then learn about history on local, national and global levels.
Each termly unit builds on prior knowledge, the established facts (the substantive knowledge) and the way to interrogate the evidence as historians (the disciplinary knowledge) through the use of sophisticated vocabulary. Termly, history is celebrated as the whole school unites in themed days or weeks to study and share one aspect from history. Following a whole school project on the First World War, we were presented with a Heritage Schools Award from Historic England. We are currently aiming to achieve a Primary Quality Mark from the Historical Association.