At Northside Primary School, history is about stimulating the children’s interests and developing an understanding of the life of people who lived in the past based on factual knowledge and a progression of skills. To fully understand this, we provide children with opportunities to consider the people involved, their reasons, actions and the consequences of them. By studying history, children can begin to make sense of the world in which they live and understand the present in context with the past. We firmly believe that history should be activity-based; engaging the children in enquiry and investigation where they are Happy to Learn and Inspired to Flourish.
Our history curriculum develops a sense of personal identity when learning about world communities. Children develop an awareness of diverse cultures both past and present locally, nationally and globally; preparing children for life as adults in a multicultural society. In line with the National Curriculum 2014, Northside aims to ensure that all pupils: gain a coherent knowledge and understanding of Britain’s past and that of the wider world which helps to stimulate pupils’ curiosity to know more about the past; are encouraged to ask perceptive questions, think critically, weigh evidence, sift arguments and develop perspective and judgement; develop an understanding of time sequence and chronology; begin to understand the complexity of people’s lives, the process of change, the diversity of societies and relationships between different groups, as well as their own identity and the challenges of their time.
We implement our history curriculum using a cross-curricular approach if and when strong links can be made to enable contextual learning. Each history topic is taught over a half or full term to allow children to achieve a depth of learning. History topics will include a Brilliant Beginning, a Marvellous Middle and an Excellent Ending to instil excitement and engagement. At the beginning of each topic, children create an illustration and glossary page of key vocabulary. Vocabulary plays an important role in learning at Northside and is key when understanding historical terms and concepts. Although the format differs throughout each key stage, assessment tools such as knowledge organisers are used to identify what the children already know, what they need to know and what they have learnt by the end of their topic. Not only does this promote pupil empowerment and engagement, but it also provides an invaluable opportunity to undertake Assessment for Learning and assess the starting points of learners and year groups. In the Early Years Foundation Stage, history is not only driven by the ‘Development Matters in the EYFS’ guidance of ‘Understanding the World’ but by the children’s interests too. By the end of Year 6, children will have a chronological understanding of British history from the Stone Age to the present day. They will be able to draw comparisons and make connections between different time periods and their own lives. Interlinked with this are studies of world history, such as the ancient civilisations of Greece and the Mayans.
Teachers use a range of approaches when delivering historical content. This can be seen through role play and re-enactments, the handling of artefacts, group work, research or a themed history day. Extensive opportunities are also given for learning outside the classroom whether it be for a local study, class trip or interactive workshop to create excitement and a love for learning. Children are organised in mixed-ability groups in all history lessons and are given the independence to select their own level of challenge. What is more, we are driven by enquiry-based learning. For that reason, key questions are used in replacement of or alongside learning objectives to ensure that this approach is upheld and children can therefore think like historians. Planning is informed by the National Curriculum and teachers use Northside’s history curriculum map to identify the knowledge and progression of skills they should be teaching for their year group. Book looks, learning walks, team teaching or joint planning sessions are what we use at Northside to monitor the teaching and the outcomes of children’s work.
Learning journals evidence a broad and balanced history curriculum; demonstrating pupil’s knowledge and skills. In every lesson, children review what they have learnt previously and use a purple pen to consolidate and strengthen their knowledge or to develop analytical thinking where questioning is used by the teacher to move them on with their learning to the next step.