At Greenfields, we are very proud of our enquiry based thematic curriculum. This really develops the children’s ability to learn about history and it gives more depth of opportunity to the teachers. From EYFS to Year 6 we have developed strategies and techniques within our curriculum to develop historical knowledge, skills and understanding.
The aims of history at Greenfields are in line with the National Curriculum, they are to ensure that children:
- Know and understand the history of the British Isles as a coherent, chronological narrative, from the earliest times to the present day: how people’s lives have shaped this nation and how Britain has influenced and been influenced by the wider world
- Know and understand significant aspects of the history of the wider world: the nature of ancient civilisations; the expansion and dissolution of empires; characteristic features of past non-European societies; achievements and follies of mankind
- Gain and deploy a historically grounded understanding of abstract terms such as ‘empire’, ‘civilisation’, ‘parliament’ and ‘peasantry’
- Understand historical concepts such as continuity and change, cause and consequence, similarity, difference and significance, and use them to make connections, draw contrasts, analyse trends, frame historically-valid questions and create their own structured accounts, including written narratives and analyses
- Understand the methods of historical enquiry, including how evidence is used rigorously to make historical claims, and discern how and why contrasting arguments and interpretations of the past have been constructed
- Gain historical perspective by placing their growing knowledge into different contexts, understanding the connections between local, regional, national and international history; between cultural, economic, military, political, religious and social history; and between short- and long-term timescales.
At Greenfields, the teaching and learning of History focuses on enabling children to think as historians. The objectives of history teaching are based on the requirements of the National Curriculum programmes of study for Key Stages 1 and 2.
In both Key Stages 1 and 2 children focus on three strands:
- Chronological understanding
- Knowledge & interpretation
- Historical enquiry
At Greenfields, history involves:
- Sequencing events chronologically with the use of dates and key events across periods
- Exploring concepts through historical enquiry by asking and answering questions
- Interpreting similar events in history and understanding that different versions of the same event exist
- Looking at continuity and change to understand how the world has developed around us
- Understanding the cause of significant events and the consequences thereafter
- Noting similarities and differences from across periods and comparing them to our own lives
- Understanding the significance of key events and the impact they have had on the world.
This is achieved through activities such as:
- Going on educational visits in the local area and places further afield in the UK.
- Working with artefacts to discover more about different periods
- Creating working walls as a class that explore lines of enquiry
- Using resources in all phases to bring to life abstract concepts such as the Stone Age, the Romans and Mayans.
- Linking our history work at school to the wider community, particularly in early years and key stage one so that pupils can draw upon experiences to link with their learning.
- The use of primary and secondary sources to support teaching and learning.
In Pre-School, Nursery and Reception, history is taught as an integral part of thematic work covered during the year. In Early Years, history is related to ‘Knowledge and Understanding of the World’ as set out in the Early Years Foundation Stage Curriculum and it is about the children beginning to understand chronology, understand that things change over time such as the decay of fruit and vegetables or the ageing of a human being. Also, children begin to use time-related vocabulary to be able to sequence the past, present and future.
Key stage 1
In Key Stage 1, history is about developing knowledge, skills and understanding relating to the children’s own experiences with a large focus on understanding chronology and the local community around them. This acts as the foundation so that when the children reach Key Stage 2, they have enough knowledge and experience to be able to learn about more abstract historical concepts, such as the Mayans, the Romans and the Stone Age more effectively.
Key stage 2
In Key Stage 2, history is about developing knowledge, skills and understanding relating to different periods of history, intertwined with the development of more local topics. Pupils will begin to weigh up historical evidence and use historical terminology fluently in their lessons. By the time pupils reach the end of Year 6, they should have a clear understanding of the world around them and why it is the way it is whilst being able to judge the validity of certain information.
Our use of questions in history
All of our enquiry overarching questions begin ‘What if . . .’ to allow the children to think broadly and deeply about the period of time they are studying. Children develop their historical enquiry skills throughout the theme and re-visit the overarching question at various points. Also, we use weekly questions to ensure that learning is focused on developing relevant historical concepts that is meaningful to the children.
History as a part of our broad and balanced curriculum
There is a breadth of opportunity to learn about History at Greenfields. We often use historical concepts from our enquiry themes to inform the books we use in English lessons. For example:
At Greenfields there have been various history-related courses, for example the Historical Society – at which the children looked at different historic periods. Also, the Little Shop of Wonders course – at which the children looked at a wide variety of artefacts and sculpted historical structures.
SMART weeks are used at the end of the Spring and Summer terms to develop children’s multiple intelligences and love of learning. Children use a book stimulus to study something linked to the Global Goals and this is often set in a historical context. One example of this is a year 4 class decided to link up an environmental theme and a historic period by looking at the 1906 San Francisco earth quake.
We aim to put educational visits at the centre of our planning so that pupils can complete enough prior learning so that they can get the most out of every trip:
Recent developments in history at Greenfields
Historical Association Quality Mark Gold award
We are very proud to be the first school in the North East to have been awarded the History Quality Mark and to have achieved the Gold standard that recognises the excellence of History provision in a school.
The assessor commented that the school has much to celebrate and has particular strengths, such as our approach to assessment in History.
We have received funding and support from the English Speaking Union to run ‘Discover Debating’ aimed at Year 5 pupils. The head of the debating society from Northumbria University, Ali Chapman, comes in to school to work with the children, developing their use of formal language and oracy skills. The aim is that this programme will diversify the types of conversations the children have and empower them to use evidence to support their own opinion.
English Heritage Schools
Last year we worked with Viki Angel who runs ‘English Heritage Schools’ for the North East of England. Through this, we have been bringing new life to some of our more local history topics. We received the award at the end of the most recent academic year and we are now an English heritage school.
This year we are continuing to develop our history provision so that there is clear progression across year groups, a variety of challenges being used to enhance historical thinking in school as well as a variety of approaches being used to ensure pupils get the support they need in history lessons.
We are working with some other schools to improve their history curriculum and they have also been sharing some ideas with us to ensure that children are getting the best possible history curriculum available.
For any more information about our school’s approach to history or if you feel you can contribute to anything our school is involved in this year, please do not hesitate to contact the school and ask to speak to Daniel Lumsdon, History subject co-ordinator and Specialist Leader of Education for History.