Our Kingston History Curriculum
We Are Historians!
HISTORY STATEMENT OF INTENT
The study of history involves engaging pupils in investigating questions about people and events in the past, in order to enable them to better understand their lives today, and to prepare them for a future as more informed and enlightened citizens. Through studying history, pupils also develop a wide range of critical thinking skills, which enable them to understand the contested nature of knowledge and to distinguish between ‘fact’ and subjectivity when it comes to reaching conclusions and making judgements about the past. At Kingston, we develop our pupils’ desire and skills to be young historians. We want our children to have enquiring minds, who feel confident to ask questions and analyse, to have a thirst to dig deeper to enhance their understanding and to have a wealth of strategies to enable them to be independent learners. Not every question in history has a clear answer, and our debating curriculum, combined with our personal development skills, will allow our children to make informed choices of their own, based on their own secure knowledge.
Progression in chronological understanding is key, from EYFS to year 6. All children at Kingston will develop an understanding of chronology, and of how events in Britain and across the world are often interlinked. Clear progression of skills throughout the years will also enable children to tackle increasingly challenging subject outcomes. We understand that progression is not just about knowing more but also understanding the significance of knowing more. Links between periods, including causation and effect, continuity and change, and historical significance will be woven into everyday lessons. The ability to deepen our understanding of what we already know, in the context of new information that we have learnt today, will be integrated into teachers’ lesson planning through subtle and frequent links back to prior learning. Those ‘lightbulb’ moments of connections between eras and events are something that we strive for at Kingston.
History is the study of change over time but history also repeats itself – there are patterns or continuities that make it appear that the same type of thing is happening again; we want our children to delight in spotting these patterns for themselves. Teaching skills that increase in complexity and reinforcing previous learning, allows the breadth and depth of children’s understanding of a topic to increase. Teachers will ask themselves when planning ‘What knowledge and skills should they learn in years 3 and 4 that will help them to tackle complex concepts in years 5 and 6?’ Teachers will ensure outcomes are learner-driven and that lessons reflect the abilities and interests of each individual class.
At Kingston, we adopt an enquiry-focused approach to learning and teaching in history, which develops our pupils as young historians. Through enquiry, our pupils not only build subject knowledge and understanding but also become increasingly adept at critical thinking and can use specialised vocabulary. We structure learning in history through Big Question led enquiries about relevant historical topics, places and themes. Our curriculum is therefore ‘knowledge rich’ in one aspect of a historical period or era, to allow pupils to master and apply critical thinking skills and achieve more challenging subject outcomes. EYFS and KS1 focuses on developing chronological understanding and building pupils’ technical vocabulary. Children will also look at significant events and individuals and will begin the building blocks of historical enquiry through a rich Big Question. In KS2, pupils will answer at least two key historical questions each year. One of these questions will follow in chronological order from their previous units of study, to develop their understanding of how events in time are sequenced, along with cause and effect, change and continuity and significance. The second Big Question will be a ‘Historical Hit’, selected by the teacher based on their own professional expertise, the individual interests of the class and current affairs. Each year group create their own knowledge organiser that demonstrates a progression of knowledge and skills, along with key vocabulary that must be taught. The length of the unit will depend on the needs of the individual class and may last a term or be part of a longer study over the space of a year. Links will be made to previous learning so that children understand the context of what they are learning and how new knowledge can build upon their existing foundations. Consideration is given to how greater depth will be taught, learnt and demonstrated within each lesson, as well as how learners will be supported in line with the school’s commitment to inclusion. All recorded work will have the purpose of enhancing pupils’ skills and understanding. Some lessons may have a practical focus as we believe that is an important aspect of our history curriculum.
Our learning and teaching in history is interactive and practical allowing opportunities for pupils to work independently, in pairs and in groups of various sizes both inside and outside of the classroom. Wherever possible, we provide our pupils with a range of historical sources including narratives, paintings, photographs, artefacts and data from which to reach conclusions and make judgements. Similarly, we provide varied and differentiated ways for pupils to record the outcomes of their work, including the use of PowerPoint, concept mapping, annotated diagrams, improvised drama and the application of a wide range of writing genres. Only in this way will knowledge become embedded and ‘sticky’, ensuring that our pupils can build on what they know and understand from one year to the next. We are also constantly striving to provide our pupils with up to date technology that can be used to enhance their learning. Subject-specific knowledge organisers and knowledge notes will be provided to help children gain knowledge and vocabulary. These will grow in complexity across year groups.
History is an enquiry-based subject, rich with opportunities to develop questioning skills, and thus questioning itself underpins our history curriculum. Each historical enquiry or Big Question is carefully structured to further include the use of ancillary questions. This enables pupils to build their knowledge and understanding in incremental steps of increasing complexity until they reach the point where they are able to answer the question posed at the beginning of the investigation. By the time children are ready to debate their Big Question, they will have the skills, understanding and vocabulary to justify their answers and pose their own future questions to investigate next. Children will use non-fiction history texts to answer written questions in reading comprehension lessons, using their VIPERS skills to identify and understand a range of question.
Repetition, retrieval and assessment
As a school, we understand the importance of repetition and retrieval. Teachers will make meaningful links to prior learning and will ask pupils to retrieve knowledge. The repetition and development in critical thinking and analytical skills will help prepare our children to be future historians. Quizzes will be regularly used in lessons as a fun and effective way to help children retain knowledge and all lessons will end with a ‘WhyU’ card. Not only will this further consolidate learning, it will also provide formative assessment for teachers so that they can best adapt future lessons. Lessons are tailored for the interests and needs of each class, so that every child is scooped up and moved along. Regular mini quizzes, both in class and online (using platforms like Google Classroom) are integral to our history curriculum. Formative assessments will also inform summative assessments against subject descriptors throughout the year.
History provides excellent opportunities to enhance the learning of pupils through investigations, analysing sources and writing extending pieces. Written historical pieces of work, both fiction and non-fiction, will be evident across the entire school, building in complexity, Meaningful links should be made in all subjects of the curriculum so that children can contextualise their learning and understand how the many different threads of the curriculum are interwoven. Pupils will be able to apply their mathematical skills (like statistics, measure and geometry) to historical investigations, such as population increases and the impact that this has had on the local area over a particular time period.
At Kingston, we ensure that pupil assessments draw on evidence from a wide range of sources including: interaction with pupils during discussions and related questioning; day to day observations; practical activities (such as model making and role play drama); the gathering, presentation and communication of fieldwork data; and writing in different genres. We do not make summative judgements about individual pieces of pupil work but rather use such outcomes to build an emerging picture of what the pupil knows, understands and can do.
Pupils’ progress is tracked termly and, at the end of each year, we make a summative judgement about the achievement of each pupil against the subject learning goals for history in that year. At this point, teachers decide upon a ‘best fit’ judgement as to whether the pupil has achieved and embedded the expected learning goals, exceeded expectations or is still working towards the goals. These decisions are based on the professional knowledge and judgement that teachers possess about the progress of each pupil, developed over the previous three terms, which allows an informed and holistic judgement of attainment to be made.
It is important to us that all pupils will leave Kingston as historians. They will be able to apply skills and processes to finding, organising, and selecting, analysing, critiquing and interpreting primary and secondary sources of evidence. From this, they will be able to pursue a line of enquiry to answer a valid historical question and grasp key concepts, generalisations and abstract ideas. History at Kingston will ignite pupils’ desire to understand more about our past, both nationally and globally, and to be proactive, independent learners while in primary education and beyond.