History at Alexander First School
At Alexander First School, we recognise history as being a medium through which pupils can understand, enjoy and appreciate the world in which we live. We believe that the teaching of fun, engaging lessons that bring history to life is seminal in developing children to enjoy learning and thus become life-long learners. This fundamental belief means that we pride ourselves on delivering a high-quality education which helps pupils gain a coherent knowledge and understanding of Britain’s past and that of the wider world.
We appreciate the value of enquiry based learning and therefore have designed our curriculum so that history lessons foster opportunities for children to be inspired and ask questions why. Pupils construct informed responses to their own questions that involve thoughtful selection and organisation of relevant historical information. This involves taking children through significant periods in history from the Stone Age to Tudors.
Through utilisation of a variety of teaching and learning styles, pupils are motivated to enquire, weigh evidence, sift arguments and think critically as they focus on recent eras of history, significant individuals and ancient civilisations from all around the world.
The History Subject Lead Team
The role of the history subject lead team is crucial in developing history teaching, learning and resources across the school so as best to support teachers, motivate pupils, monitor progress and achieve consistently high standards.
A priority of ours has been in identifying key skills needed by the children to become effective historians. These are:
These key skills are made up of a number of expectations, which progress in difficulty through the year groups (see progression map for more information).
To stay on top of our subject, we ensure that we attend relevant CPD opportunities and disseminate learning from these in staff meetings. Within school we have a collaborative approach to subject leadership and good practice is often shared amongst staff. In order to gain an understanding of how history is taught across the school, we ensure that our subject is monitored termly, gaining evidence from books and pupil voice. This informs the strengths and areas for development in our subject, which is shared with staff individually.
We whole-heartedly believe that with a coherent understanding about the past, children can enter the world more informed to make decisions which will impact the future. That is why we set the expectation that by the time children leave Alexander First School, they should be able to sift through arguments, weigh evidence and draw conclusions for themselves. They should be able to independently choose their own relevant sources of information, use sophisticated language, talk confidently about different eras and ask perceptive questions.
The objectives for History in KS1 and KS2 are clearly set out for each year group in the National Curriculum:
Key Stage 1:
Pupils should be taught about:
Key Stage 2
Pupils should be taught about:
Early Years Foundation Stage
We teach foundational knowledge to begin the History curriculum in EYFS as part of the topic work covered during the year. Children explore the past and present, as we relate the historical side of children’s work to the objectives set out in the Early Learning Goals (ELG’s) which underpin the curriculum planning for children aged 3 to 5. History makes a significant contribution to developing a child’s understanding of the world (UTW) through activities such as talking about things they have done in the past and discussing the meaning of vocabulary such as ‘new’ and ‘old’. Children are regularly asked to recall what they have done at the weekend or over the half-term holidays and, during some educational trips, they look at new and old buildings - such as Windsor Castle.
The contribution of history to teaching in other curriculum areas
At our school, we have aligned our curriculum with a variety of anchor texts which afford the opportunity to explore history within English. For example:
This not only ensures that historical knowledge is developed in English lessons, but also that children are more able to empathise with people of that era, and immerse themselves in the type of archaic language and writing styles that were used during that time.
The teaching of history contributes to children’s mathematical understanding in a variety of ways. Children learn to use and order numbers when developing a sense of chronology through activities such as creating timelines and sequencing events in their own lives. Children also learn to interpret information presented in graphical or diagrammatic forms.
In key stage one, children may order events from oldest to most recent, or collect data about parents’ favourite toys; whereas in key stage two, children may be required to design their own timeline given the dates provided, draw nets of buildings or create line graphs to present data.
Personal, Social, Health and Citizenship Education (PSHCE)
Staff at Alexander First School are very passionate that children understand that having a comprehensive understanding of the past can influence positive change for the future. Therefore we ensure that history contributes significantly to the teaching of Personal, Social, Health and Citizenship Education. Children develop self-confidence by having opportunities to explain their views on a number of social questions such as how society should respond to poverty and homelessness or whether they think modern toys are better than old toys. Children are given the opportunity to respond ethically to questions such as ‘were the Tudors really brutal, or did they just not know any different?’ and ‘were the Romans really great?’
In addition, they discover how to be active citizens in a democratic society by learning how laws are made and changed. They learn that society is made up of people from different cultures and start to develop respect and tolerance for others.
Information and communication technology enhances our teaching of history wherever appropriate in all key stages. The children use ICT in a variety of ways such as word processing, finding information on the internet and presenting information via PowerPoint.
Geography goes hand-in-hand with many of the topics taught within history. It is fundamental that, when learning about civilisations across the wider world, children have some understanding of the locality of these civilisations and the types of settlements that different civilisations made. It’s common-place, here at Alexander First School, to walk into a history lesson and find children exploring atlases, looking at globes or using ‘digimaps’ to compare old road maps with modern-day maps and find grid-references of old establishments. When learning about people such as Christopher Columbus, it is valuable to know the locality of his travels in comparison to that of Europe.
Art and DT
Every term, each class has an artist and designer of the term. These are chosen with relevance to the topic during that time; therefore are regularly people of the past who have influenced and inspired different generations. Children look at the work produced by such artists and designers and try to recreate some of the styles that they demonstrate in their work, using the colours and patterns relevant to that time.
We place great importance on educational visits and visitors to enhance the history curriculum. These visits allow our children to think for themselves, make connections to what they’ve learnt in class and construct their understanding from a range of primary and secondary sources of evidence. These trips, alongside various other strategies discussed above allow teachers to facilitate learning so that pupils can note connections, contrasts and trends over time and are more holistically developed to enter the world as wider informed individuals. Such visits include:
Assessment for learning
Children demonstrate their ability in history in a variety of different ways. Younger children might, for example, talk about something that they have done in the past or act out a famous historical event. As children get older, work is much more focussed on children ensuring they are acting as archaeologists; a lot of the work they produce may be discussion based but children are assessed on their ability to weigh the evidence and sift through arguments in order to draw conclusions.
Teachers will assess children’s work by making informal judgements during lessons. On completion of a piece of work, the teacher assesses the work and uses this information to plan for future learning. Written or verbal feedback is given to the child to help guide his or her progress. An on-going topic assessment is completed as teachers deliver lessons to monitor and quickly identify where pupils are at risk of falling behind and put much needed support in place. Written or verbal feedback is given to the child to help guide their progress. Older children are encouraged to make judgements about how they can improve their own work.
At the end of term, using their on-going assessments, teachers assess as to whether children are emerging, developing or securing in their historical understanding. Teachers have access to previous assessment data as a tool to moderate their current judgements. This information is then passed on to the subject lead to support the monitoring process.
SMSC and British Values
Through a comprehensive study of history we integrally cover core British values. History aids and supports spiritual development of children by developing their sense of curiosity. Our enquiry based view of history encourages children to question events from the past and what may have happened if events had different outcomes.
On a regular basis within history, children develop their moral consciences by engaging in a range of activities which encourage them to consider both moral questions and dilemmas. Often beliefs in the past will be different than those held today, with children exploring the notions of compassion and empathy for those who have made the decisions. For example, one activity which is regularly applied within history lessons is conscience alleys. Conscience alleys see children form a line both for and against a certain decision, with children in the line giving their valued opinion on either side. Their opinion is based on their understanding/empathy of the era.
Also, throughout our history curriculum, children’s social development is supported. This is implemented through contrasting different periods of the past to our ‘modern day world’. On a regular basis, for example through warm-ups, children explore similarities and differences between different ages. Furthermore, history also offers lots of opportunities for children to consolidate their own social development through teamwork tasks and collaborative projects. We encourage all of our children to engage in discussion to forward their own ideas and build on those of others. Our curriculum also encourages and supports children in identifying their own locality in history and how the past has impacted the region today.
Finally, history at Alexander First School promotes cultural development by giving children the opportunity to learn and study about people from different cultures throughout our units on world history. These units include: the Tudors, the Egyptians and the Romans. Through our comprehensive study of British history, children are also supported to consider how other cultures have had an impact on the current British culture, such as the Victorians and Vikings and Anglo-Saxons.