The purpose of History at WRPS is to encourage pupils to develop an appreciation and understanding of the past, evaluating a range of primary and secondary sources. Our historians will also be able to explain clearly how these sources give us an insight about how people around the world used to live and how these interpretations may differ.
Pupils will be taught to make connections between the areas of learning taught in history and across the wider curriculum. We aim for pupils to develop as engaged, motivated and curious learners who can reflect on the past and make meaningful links to the present day.
Woven within our history curriculum are our golden threads: ‘Society’ and ‘Power’. We have identified these two key historical concepts as our golden threads that interweave through the whole-school history curriculum. As the children revisit each historical concept, they build on previously taught learning, developing their understanding and knowledge of each golden thread whilst also observing how they change throughout time.
Our History curriculum has been designed to cover all of the skills, knowledge and understanding as set out in the National Curriculum. We aspire to deliver the key purpose of the National Curriculum which states that ‘a high-quality history education will help pupils gain a coherent knowledge and understanding of Britain’s past and that of the wider world. It should inspire pupils’ curiosity to know more about the past.’
To ensure that pupils develop a secure knowledge that they can build upon, our History curriculum is organised into a progression model that outlines the skills, knowledge and vocabulary to be taught in a sequentially coherent way. Historical Investigation; Chronological Understanding; Historical Understanding; Historical Enquiry; Interpretations of History; Organisation and Communication are all mapped out to ensure that pupils build on secure prior knowledge. When covering each of these strands, the content is carefully organised by each year group through a long-term plan.
We aim to focus specifically on Historical Enquiry, to show examples of this and help the children develop their skillset so that they know how to ask relevant questions, select and evaluate evidence to make judgements about the past and open up the discussion from multiple perspectives.
Content knowledge, vocabulary and skills are then planned for at a greater level of detail in medium-term unit plans. History is delivered through subject specific teaching organised into blocks under a theme / topic. Meaningful links with other subjects are made to strengthen connections and understanding for pupils.
Opportunities are also planned to strengthen children’s spiritual, moral, social and cultural development, including through our school GRACE values.
All learning starts by revisiting prior knowledge. This learning is scaffolded in a way that supports children to recall previous learning and make connections. Staff model explicitly the subject-specific vocabulary, knowledge and skills relevant to the learning to allow them to integrate new knowledge into their ongoing investigations.
The teaching of History at Withycombe utilises Rosenshine’s Principles of Instruction (2010). The four strands (Reviewing Material, Questioning, Explaining and Modelling and Practising) suggested by Rosenshine are embedded throughout the History curriculum, helping children to avoid overload of their short-term memories and to make connections to prior learning. This allows children to develop their own schema, committing learning to their deep processing and semantic memory. Whenever possible and suitable, our History lessons begin with a ‘review’ activity which encourages children to retrieve and recall their prior learning, vocabulary, skills and/or knowledge. This is carefully thought-out and designed by teachers, allowing them to draw upon previous successes and content (whether in the previous lesson, the previous week, the previous term or the previous year), preparing children for what they are about to learn in the current teaching session. We are also careful not to overload children’s thinking by presenting them too much content in one session; using a small steps approach ensures that children can fully understand and access their learning.
Learning is supported through the use of ‘knowledge organisers’ that provide children with scaffolding for retaining new facts and vocabulary in their long-term memory. Knowledge organisers can be used for pre-teaching, to support home learning and also for retrieval practice.
Teachers deliver content in a way that considers principles of ‘Cognitive Load Theory’ in order to support children in their ability to know more and remember more, making learning more efficient by using teaching and learning methods which:
Measure and review existing knowledge and confidence and adapting teaching accordingly.
Reduce the ‘problem space’ by breaking problems down into parts, and by using partially completed problems and worked examples.
Extend the capacity of working memory by using both visual and auditory channels. Merging together multiple sources of visual information whenever possible.
Identify which knowledge is most significant – for example, the use of knowledge organisers to detail some key historic dates and vocabulary.
Ensure that pupils have sufficient time to repeat and practise so that knowledge is remembered and stored in their long term memory. ‘Learning is defined as an alteration in long-term memory. If nothing has altered in long-term memory, nothing has been learned’ (Sweller et al 2011)
Use retrieval practice to revisit learning and bring information back to the forefront of the mind to enhance and improve learning opportunities.
Our historians will be given a variety of experiences both in and out of the classroom, where appropriate, to create memorable learning opportunities and to further support and develop their understanding. We also aim to engender an appreciation of human creativity and achievement by learning both about and from the past. At Withycombe Raleigh C of E Primary School, this is enhanced by educational enrichment opportunities such as visits to historically significant sites within the local vicinity, on-site re-enactments, museum visits, as well as many other opportunities.
History assessment is ongoing throughout the relevant cross-curricular themes and informs teachers with their lesson planning and with differentiation required. Summative assessment is completed at the end of each History topic, via pupils’ responses to ‘a range of key outcomes’.
Pupil voice shows that pupils are confident and are beginning to talk knowledgeably about what they have learnt in History, using subject specific vocabulary. Pupils are able to recall their learning over time. Pupils’ work demonstrates that History is taught at an age-appropriate standard across each year group with opportunities planned to challenge pupils working at greater depth. Work in children’s books is of good quality and demonstrates the breadth of their learning.
We aim that children make outstanding progress over time from their own starting points and that teachers endeavour to clearly know and assess what children have learnt, including securely, and what might need to be reviewed or re-taught as they progress.
Pupil voice also demonstrates that pupils enjoy history and by instilling such a positive attitude to the subject, they should have every opportunity to progress in the subject and apply their learning more widely.