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Our History curriculum …

“A good history education is so important to children’s education. Studying history helps children to understand their place in the world, and in the long story of human development. And it challenges them to make sense of the similarities and differences in human experiences across time and place”.  (Amanda Spielman)


We believe that history helps our children to understand their place in the world. It helps children to make sense of the present as well as the past, and to appreciate the complexity and diversity of human societies and development.

At St. Mary’s, our  History curriculum meets the statutory requirements outlined in the National Curriculum (2014) and was created based on the principles outlined in the Ofsted Research review series : History. It is organised to reflect the fact that ‘knowledge of the past must be shaped by disciplinary approaches in order to become historical knowledge’.  (Ofsted Research review series; History 2021)




Our History curriculum:

· Provides a high-quality sequence of lessons which develop children’s natural curiosity into the past.

· To learn about the key knowledge (substantive) of important historical events, people and places locally, nationally and globally.

· Develops a better understanding of the chronological order of key events and people.

· Teaches children to use and understand relevant historical terms and vocabulary.

· Ask perceptive questions about the past.

· Use a range of high-quality artefacts and sources to learn more about the past.

· Articulate their learning, ideas and opinions about how different groups and they themselves have changed over time.


Our Curriculum          


Our curriculum has been underpinned by the following knowledge:


Substantive Knowledge (‘knowing about’): the knowledge of the past; people, events and ideas, with children learning about key events and people of a variety of historical periods.


Disciplinary Knowledge (‘ways of knowing’): a knowledge of how historians investigate the past and how they construct historical claims, arguments and accounts.


At St. Mary’s Catholic Primary School, we have identified the disciplinary knowledge as:

  • Change and continuity: children identify and explain aspects of the past that have  remained the same or have changed over time, focusing on chronology and looking at sequencing intervals between events and the duration of each event.
  • Similarities and differences: Children identify similarities and difference across periods of time, explaining similarities and differences between social, cultural, religious and ethnic diversity in Britain across time periods and suggest reasons for these.
  • Cause and consequence: Looking at the reasons for, and results of, historical events. Analysing these, children develop an understanding of cause and consequence, explaining the reasons and results of historical events, situations and changes.
  • Historical significance: Considering what makes events, people and sites significant in their historical context and the present day, comparing significant people and events across different time periods and explaining the significance of these.
  • Sources of evidence: Use a range of different sources to investigate the past, identifying whether or not they are primary or secondary sources. Use sources of evidence to build up a picture of the past and can identify the reliability and limitations in the sources used.
  • Historical interpretations / enquiry: the process of developing knowledge and understanding by posing questions about the past and applying skills associated with locating, analysing, evaluating and using sources as evidence to develop an informed argument or interpretation.


We use an enquiry-based model so that children learn key substantive knowledge using the disciplinary knowledge and methods that historians use.


We have designed our curriculum so that children:

Cumulate Knowledge: History is planned so that the retention of knowledge is more than ’in the moment knowledge’.

Build upon prior learning: With effective sequencing in place, children can better grasp the core concepts of history. Learning across the school is mapped so that children can gradually build on prior learning to lessen their cognitive load and have meaningful opportunities for retrieval.

Build on substantive knowledge: We have identified clear knowledge that is taught for each unit of work . This knowledge is carefully sequenced so that each piece of knowledge builds on the previous piece of knowledge so that children become ‘more expert’ in history. Key knowledge has been identified in each lesson so that teachers can easily check whether children know more and remember more.

Knowledge retrieval and retention: the cumulative nature of the curriculum is made memorable by the use of low stake quizzes that help children to remember historical facts and information.

Develop their historical vocabulary: historical vocabulary is planned culmatively and sequentially from the Early Years to Year 6. High frequency, multiple-meaning words(tier 2) are taught and help to make sense of subject specific words (tier 3).


How our History curriculum develops


  • EYFS    

Early years history planning provides opportunities for the children to reflect on memories and experiences from their own past and comment on images of familiar situations in the past. Children will look for similarities and differences between photos, images nd objects from the past and present day.

Children will have opportunities to compare and contrast characters from various stories set in the past, including historical figures. They will have opportunities to identify similarities and differences between characters, enhancing their understanding of the past.


  • Key Stage 1

The sequence in Key Stage 1 focuses on children developing a sense of time, place and change. Through the unit of Toys, children study changes within living memory, developing an understanding of what has changed in the living memory of their parents and grandparents. Children begin to develop an understanding of chronology and change over time. Children then learn about events beyond living memory, learning about significant individuals, focusing on Christopher Columbus, Neil Armstrong, Florence Nightingale and Mary Seacole. They learn about events from the recent and more distant past, such as the Great Fire of London and the locality is used to explore and learn about the Seaside – now and in the past.. Children use sources of information to help them ask and answer questions and determine how the past is different from the present. 


  • Key Stage 2

In Key Stage 2, our History curriculum is studied in chronological order, allowing children to establish narratives within and across the periods they study. Pupils learn about significant people, events and places from both recent and the more distant past. They learn that the past can be represented and interpreted in different ways.


In lower Key Stage 2, children begin to study historical periods, looking at the cultural and technological advances made by our ancestors as well as understanding how historians think Britain changed throughout the Stone Age, Bronze Age and iron Age. Children build on this knowledge by looking at how the world developed through the ancient civilisations of Ancient  Egypt.


Substantive concepts such as invasion, settlements, religion and society are developed through explicit  vocabulary teaching. Children study Britain’s settlements by Anglo- Saxons and Scots which focuses on cultural change and the influence of Christianity. Our  curriculum focuses on the struggle for the Kingdom of England through a struggle of the Vikings, their origins, conquests and agreements with English Anglo- Saxon king s to settle and dwell in the region known as Danelaw.


 In lower Key Stage 2, children begin to study historical periods, looking at the cultural and technological

 advances made by our ancestors as well as understanding how historians think Britain changed throughout the

 Stone Age, Bronze Age and Iron Age. Children build on this knowledge by looking at how the world developed

 through the ancient civilisations of Ancient  Egypt. In Year 4, children study local history, finding out about

 Whitehaven, where the maritime port of Whitehaven  was once the third-largest in the UK with trade links all   

 over the world. Children will find out about the town's prosperity being built on coal and how the wealthy Lowther  Family developed the lay out of the Georgian town.


 In Upper Key Stage 2, children will  look again at Ancient History, building on their prior learning from Ancient  Egypt and looking at how different societies have different beliefs and ideas and  how Ancient Greece influence us today. In Year 6, children study The Maya, showing children that by comparison with British society in Saxon times the Maya were in many ways more advanced. Children will make links to prior learning, comparing The Maya with earlier ancient civilizations such as Egypt, providing a context for showing progression in understanding characteristic features of past societies.


 Children will also study recent history in the context of how conflict changed the 20th Century.  They will look at the changing nature of Europe and the struggle for power within the backdrop of World War 2.