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Intent for History Year 1 to Year 6

Our vision for History is to foster an environment in which all children engage in the study of compelling and challenging historical enquires - investigating questions about people and events in the past in order to enable them to better understand their lives today and for a future as more informed and enlightened citizens. Through the study of history pupils will develop a wide range of critical thinking skills, which enable them to understand the subjective nature of ‘fact’ and opinion when reaching conclusions and making judgements about the past. 

With this in mind we have established a school curriculum plan for history as an entitlement for all pupils that is: 

  • Aspirational in terms of instilling in our pupils a desire to achieve the highest levels of success through providing them with the opportunities to excel in terms of their acquisition of long-lasting knowledge and understanding and mastery of core historical skills.  Our aspirations are clear in the progressive and increasingly challenging objectives of the scheme of work of each enquiry, which define clearly what the pupils will know, understand and be able to do; 
  • Logical, broad and balanced in terms of the areas of subject content we have selected which reflect the guidance and the demands of the National Curriculum. The content includes representative investigations of British history spanning the period from the Stone Age to the Norman invasion of 1066 as well as enquiries focusing on the achievements of ancient civilizations such as the Maya, the Shang Dynasty as well as utilising the wealth of history based in the local environment and community, when appropriate, such as Kents Cavern and Plympton Castle.
  • Chronologically sequenced as pupils progress through the school which allows them opportunities to evaluate both change and progress from one historical period to another. For example, when studying the Shang Dynasty, children will draw parallels and make comparisons with other contemporaneous Bronze Age societies elsewhere in the world – building on and reinforcing prior knowledge and understanding as they tackle more complex and demanding enquiries from both ancient prehistoric times, with the appearance of the human being, to modern history; 
  • Relevant in terms of the careful consideration that has been given to the selection of historical enquiries that extend the knowledge and understanding of pupils beyond 1066 e.g. evaluating the significance of the Battle of Britain as a turning point in World War II and the impact of the British Empire. Thus, ensuring our curriculum is culturally diverse and that pupils understand that the past can be represented and interpreted in different ways. By exploring in depth, the most relevant and meaningful aspects of the subject content of the National Curriculum in history, we avoid attempting to tackle a fully comprehensive coverage at the expense of subject rigour and the development of core subject concepts and skills;
  • Progressively more challenging from Year 1 through to 6 both in terms of the complexity of the subject knowledge we want our pupils to acquire and the critical thinking skills needed to understand the significance of that knowledge.  Children will achieve more demanding outcomes as they progress through each unit and their school career with more tightly defined or closed enquiry questions in Key Stage one, ‘Who’, ‘What’, ‘Where’ and ‘When’ questions, while in Key Stage 2 a more open-ended enquiry questions put emphasis on ‘Why’ and ‘How’ questions.
  • Built upon and has continuity with the provision for history established in the Early Years Foundation Stage with knowledge and skills expectations of the Past and Present Early Learning Goal being addressed as an early adopter school.
  • Inclusive in terms of delivering the same curriculum to all of our pupils irrespective of specific learning needs or disabilities. During phased planning sessions, teachers ensure that differentiation has been considered. In class support, alternative learning activities, assessment outcomes and strategies such as (dual coding) schemas of knowledge are provided to support understanding.
  • A school environment that actively seeks to demonstrate the purpose and essential role of history through the acknowledgement of noteworthy events relevant to British, local and world History such as Black History month, visiting Artists, Mayflower 400 events, Remembrance, the Platinum Jubilee of Elizabeth II and the Coronation of King Charles III.


The teaching, learning and sequencing of the history curriculum is as follows:

  • The ‘Connected Curriculum’ is implemented to ensure coverage and progression in all skills relating to history. Over the course of the scheme, there are opportunities to acquire historical skills and new knowledge that build on prior learning. Interleaving knowledge is used to achieve more demanding outcomes as they progress through each unit and their school career.
  • Lessons will develop long term memory by allowing for repetition of learning within the year, and year on year. This will be supported with regular ‘retrieval quizzes’ within sessions. Lessons will include dual coding schemas of knowledge. These highly organised series of images in combination with words help children make a firmer sense of new learning and are knowledge is less likely to be transient and lost.
  • Schemas of knowledge ensure planning carefully considers the knowledge and skills at the heart of each scheme, while providing a consistent approach to convey knowledge across the school. Chronological knowledge is supported by the use of World Timelines which allow children to recognise how their unit of study fits with others. In addition, our school connected curriculum chronology timeline provides children with a clear vision of where their learning is going next and provide staff with a clear vision of prior learning and units of study.
  • A rigorous and sequential vocabulary progression plan within History ensures that tier 3, (specialised ‘show’ words) and tier 2 (appropriate words ‘grow’ and ‘know’) high mileage words, are threaded through our pupils learning and are built upon year-on-year. Pupils’ acquisition and command of an ever-growing store of historical vocabulary at their disposal is key to their learning and progress within History.

The History lead, Curriculum lead and Senior Leadership team complete a regular programme of monitoring, evaluation and review. Good practice is highlighted and shared, helping contribute to the ongoing commitment to further develop.

Where appropriate, children will have opportunities to explore artefacts, participate in high-quality visits/visitors and explore local heritage sights to gain cultural capital and irresistible learning opportunities. This will help children to recognise the value and purpose of History.

Our school’s coverage reflects the important role of history within EYFS provision. History coverage is addressed within the new Past and Present Early Learning Goals, with child-led learning opportunities based on their own life-story and family history, a focus on significant people such as Mary Anning and the use of artefacts, providing children with opportunities to distinguish between the past, present and future. The ability to play will be harnessed to establish basic historical development. The use of carefully selected History based story books and are used as a key mechanism for learning.

In Key Stage 1 the units start with the present, the local or the known before then looking back. For example, children begin by looking at a current great British explorer. This allows children to link it to exploring in the past before the modern technology that the children take for granted and then to cast ahead to consider what exploring might be like in the future.

In lower Key Stage 2, children develop and cement their understanding of how time periods relate to each other with units organised chronologically. By upper Key Stage 2 children make links between their current learning and other areas studied but consider how this relates to what else is happening around the world at the same time. For example, when studying the Shang Dynasty, children will make comparisons with the nature of the artefacts that remain from other contemporaneous Bronze Age societies elsewhere in the world, most notably in Britain and in Ancient Egypt. There will be increasing challenge in terms of depth of knowledge and understanding - children will become more accomplished as historians in upper key stage 2.

Progression is developed through the following four dimensions:

Substantive knowledge/concepts

Pupils knowing more, remembering more, doing more and understanding more about the body of knowledge we have identified in each enquiry as being the most valuable for them to learn. These are built-upon and increase as children become more accomplished historians.

Disciplinary thinking skills

Pupils learning History through ‘the lens of the discipline’ as young historians growing in their understanding of the methods and skills that historians employ to generate knowledge and historical narratives.  As our pupils’ progress through the school from EYFS to Year 6 they are challenged to master and apply through a pedagogy of enquiry the critical disciplinary thinking skills that characterise and inform learning in History summarised here:


Conceptual knowledge

Pupils embedding the key second order concepts of History which are established in the EYFS and revisited and consolidated through our curriculum provision and evident in our planning documentation and knowledge schemas and learning organisers for each enquiry.

Key Second Order Concepts (fundamental intellectual building blocks of History):

  1. Change and continuity– continuation and developments during and between periods. Historians seek to identify, describe, explain, and evaluate the impact of change over time. 
  2. Causation- why turning points occurred and their consequences/legacy.
  3. Similarities and differences – drawing comparisons between people’s ways of life at two points in time or between communities living in different places at around much the same time. This may include looking at technological advances and social diversity including beliefs, attitudes.
  4. Significant events and people – identifying specific events, people, places, themes, and ideas from the past as being of greater importance or more notable than others in terms of their impact and justifying why.
  5. Perspective – recognise that while attempting to interpret and make meaning of the past historians recognise that judgements are influences by the standpoint or world view of the observer. The way that commentators ‘see’ things is influences by their own unique set of beliefs, values and experiences. Consequently, historians will frequently see the same event differently and use different language to make sense of it.
  6. Sources – Written, visual or artefactual evidence from the past which historians use to acquire information and to reach judgements about how people lived and what they thought. Every historical source provides some information about the past although some sources will inevitably be considered more significant than others. Children will make judgements about their reliability.
  7. Chronology – Arranging or sequencing historical events in their correct order of occurrence, which is enabled by the cognitive process of chronological thinking – deliberation undertaken to arrive at a decision.
  8. Empathy – The capacity to place oneself impartially in another’s position to better understand their motives, decisions, and actions (even if they are not shared values) from their perspective.

Key Skills:

  1. Chronology knowledge - the characteristic features of periods, chronological vocabulary and the use of timelines
  2. Historical enquiry – using evidence and communicating history
  3. Interpreting history – forming their own perspective and understanding that historians and people in history have different viewpoints and motives

Knowledge of subject vocabulary and technical language

In line with our vocabulary progression plan pupils are introduced to and revisit through the curriculum EYFS – Year 6 key specialised vocabulary and technical terms and these are identified on the learning organisers which support learning in each enquiry.  Through this building and consolidation of language our pupils become increasing adept at communicating effectively what they know, remember, do and understand in History.


  • Children will become increasingly aware of how historical events have shaped the world that they currently live in and become reflective and curious world citizens.
  • They will develop and have a better understanding of local, national and world history.
  • Children will become increasingly critical and analytical within their historical thinking, making informed and balanced judgements based on their and others’ knowledge of the past.
  • Children are able to retain prior-learning and explicitly make connections between what they have previously learned and what they are currently learning using their historical skills.
  • Children will confidently use history vocabulary that demonstrates their understanding.
  • Children will have valuable interactions with their peers, complete practical activities such as debating, role play drama and write different genres, helping to build an emerging picture of what they know, understand and can do.
Subject Documents Date  
Whole School History Timeline 30th Aug 2023 Download
History Progression Map 2023 2024 17th Mar 2024 Download
History Curriculum Map 2024 17th Mar 2024 Download
Statement of Curriculum History 2023 24 17th Mar 2024 Download