It is our intent at William Cobbett to provide our children with a rich and fulfilling History curriculum that develops an appreciation, curiosity and understanding of the past and allows the children to gain a strong sense of chronology. Our children will gain knowledge of key historical figures, events and periods of history and become historians who are reflective about how the past has shaped the world and how our impact can shape the future. Through working with primary and secondary sources, we aim to inspire critical thinking skills with the children, asking questions about the past and showing a keen interest in finding answers. We aim for children to develop the skills of enquiry, analysis, interpretation and problem-solving through engaging with historical information. The History curriculum at William Cobbett has been designed to cover skills, knowledge, understanding and vocabulary in a progressive and sequentially coherent way, building on concepts such as chronology, cause and consequence, similarity and difference, change and continuity.
We want our children to be curious historians, excited to learn more about the past. This is why, throughout the year, our children engage in exciting workshops and trips that enrich their history learning.
The National Curriculum for History states:
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. Teaching should equip pupils to ask perceptive questions, think critically, weigh evidence, sift arguments, and develop perspective and judgement.
We understand the importance of the Early Years for laying the foundations for life-long learning. Our EYFS curriculum supports the development of children’s understanding of the world, giving them a secure base to build their historical learning from as they progress through Key Stage 1 and 2. Through our enriched Cornerstones curriculum, children will:
- Talk about the lives of the people around them and their roles in society;
- Know some similarities and differences between things in the past and now;
- Be exposed to and use vocabulary associated with history and the passing of time such as ‘before I was born’, ‘yesterday’ and ‘now’;
- Understand the past through settings, characters and events encountered through literature and storytelling.
Key Stages 1 and 2
Our KS1 and KS2 History enriched Cornerstones curriculum ensures that our children:
- Develop an awareness of the past, understanding where people and events they study fit within a chronological framework and identify similarities and differences between periods;
- Ask questions about the historical period they are learning about and use both primary and secondary sources to construct informed responses to these questions;
- Have a secure understanding of the advantages and disadvantages of different types of historical information and how our knowledge of the past is constructed from a range of sources;
- Make comparisons between different historical time periods as well as developing an ability to consider change, cause and significance;
- Understand significant historical events, people and places in their locality;
- Use a wide vocabulary of historical terms, becoming progressively more complex as they move through the school.
Our History curriculum at William Cobbett is built around the Cornerstones Curriculum Maestro curriculum but is developed and adapted to meet the needs of our children, while meeting the aims of the National Curriculum and with an understanding of progression from the EYFS Framework. Although our History curriculum is not organised chronologically, the teaching of chronology is woven throughout to ensure children develop a secure understanding of the concept.
History is the ‘driver’ subject for the overarching topics of two of the three terms in each year. It is also woven into the terms where the ‘driver’ subject is Geography through appropriately linked lessons. When History is the ‘driver’ subject, it is taught weekly in KS1 and KS2. In EYFS, learning occurs as part of the relevant units of work throughout the year.
We recognise that History is underpinned by abstract concepts (e.g empire, democracy, civilisation) as well as historical concepts (cause and consequence; change and continuity; historical significance; similarity and difference; sources and evidence; interpretations). The structure of our curriculum allows children to develop a depth of understanding of these concepts. Alongside key historical knowledge and concepts, we recognise that children need to learn key skills. Throughout each unit, children will develop skills of sequencing, making connections, comparing, communication, questioning and interpreting and evaluating evidence.
At William Cobbett, we have a whole-school focus on vocabulary development and follow the Word Aware approach. Each History unit begins with the children ‘traffic lighting’ the Tier 2 and Tier 3 vocabulary identified for the topic and then each lesson starts with explicit teaching of new vocabulary and reviewing of previously taught terminology. Word pots, containing the project vocabulary, are present in every classroom. Children play games daily, using the word pot, in order to recall, define and retain their vocabulary in the long term. Each classroom has a ‘Cornerstones’ display, which will have a history focus during terms where that is the ‘driver’ subject. In every classroom, the display will include the key vocabulary taught throughout the unit and may also include visuals to support the vocabulary, as well as maps or photos to support the learning happening during the lessons.
In EYFS, History learning is recorded in their learning journals. In KS1 and KS2, children record their History learning in their Cornerstones book. Projects begin with children being introduced to the unit of work with a title page which includes the key vocabulary and a brief synopsis of their upcoming learning.
Our children are offered a range of historical enrichment opportunities throughout their time at William Cobbett including trips to places of historical significance and workshops which allow the children to engage with and explore history through role-play, sharing artefacts and hands-on experiences. These opportunities help to make history more real for our children and provides memorable experiences to enhance learning. We’ve had quite a few ancient Greeks and Romans come to school this year and our historical artefacts have incited lots of curiosity!
We will know we have achieved our intent when our children can:
- Use the language of chronology and identify periods of history on timelines;
- Confidently talk about people, events and periods of history they have learnt about and comment on how these have had an impact;
- Use primary and secondary sources and make inferences about the past using these, understanding that perspective can affect evidence;
- Ask questions in lesson and follow lines of enquiry as part of their learning about the past, showing a keenness to find answers to questions;
- Leave William Cobbett having visited some places of historical significance in the local and wider area and ‘experienced’ history through engagement with artefacts and workshops.
History is assessed at the end of each academic year in each year group. This is done through teacher judgment using the assessment laid out in the History progression of knowledge and skills document. Teachers record children’s progress from Reception through to Key Stage 2 in History. Teachers will need to judge if a child is developing, secure or greater depth at the end of each year group and this is communicated to parents through children’s annual reports.
History is monitored by the subject leader and senior leadership team through book looks, learning walks and pupil and teacher surveys. Monitoring observations are communicated to staff and support and training are put in place where a need has been identified.
‘I think the old toys would be fun to play with today too.’
‘Being a Roman for the day was fun and I got excited about history.’
‘Did you know that there’s loads of historical places to visit in school holidays? We’ve been to lots of castles.’
‘The World War soldiers were just so brave.’
Some useful websites
http://www.nhm.ac.uk/ (Natural History Museum)