At Regent Farm First School we are passionate about History. It is a subject that fires curiosity, spurring pupils to ask questions, to want to know more and think as archaeologists and historians. By giving our pupils a clear, chronological framework we aim to support them to gain a coherent knowledge and understanding of Britain’s past and that of the wider world. Topic based learning inspires and enables our pupils to make sense of new knowledge they acquire and how this relates to their own lives. High-quality teaching and opportunities to examine, interpret and evaluate source material allow our pupils to make deductions about the past; learn to ask perceptive questions, think critically, weigh evidence, sift arguments, develop perspective and judgement and begin to understand the complexity of people’s lives. We want pupils to realise that history is in the past and as such is interpreted in different ways; to learn from past experiences and realise that the understanding we gain can help us future a better place.
How do we teach history?
Children learn best when they are excited and engaged and at Regent Farm we find this is best achieved through topic based, cross curricular teaching. This facilitates active teaching and learning; initiates transferable learning skills, such as team work and it helps children see the links between subjects. We have one main history focused topic each year ‘Time Travellers’, but other topics may have a history leaning, for example the year 3’s learn about the Ancient Greeks when they study the Olympics.
Our History lessons will be highly effective by ensuring we implement History in the following ways:
- Each history lesson has a clear history objective, enabling the development of historical skills, knowledge and concepts.
- Children can take ownership of their learning through independent, enquiry based learning.
- The topic allows children to relate their historical learning to their own experiences and life by drawing comparisons and making connections between different time periods and their own lives.
- School visits, visitors to school and the opportunity to handle historical artefacts provides our pupils with a more visual view of the topic they are covering; bringing history alive for our learners and helping them gain a deeper understanding of the time period. We use artefacts as a ‘WOW’ to start a topic as well as throughout the topic to encourage the children to become history detectives.
- Pupils have the opportunity to communicate ideas, judgements and views in a variety of formats, including speaking and listening, writing, pictorial representation and other medium (video, audio, recording, photography)
- Teachers within key stages plan together to create highly engaging and informative teaching and learning opportunities which take into account prior learning and plan for progression in skills. They facilitate activities that motivate the children to learn and stimulate their sense of curiosity and enquiry.
- A timeline is displayed running through the school documenting the periods of history studied by the different year groups within the school. Staff refer to the timeline on a regular basis as they move through the school to enhance children’s sense of chronology, help them understand how subjects fit together and provide a reference for current and prior learning.
In the Early Years, activities are cross-curricular and play based. Children listen to stories; ask ‘how’ and ‘why’; talk about the past and present in their own lives and those of family members and friends; recognise similarities and differences between families, traditions, objects and materials; make up stories and explore ideas through role play. Children are introduced early on in their learning to methods which help them develop an understanding of chronology and introduce them to ’History’ skills.
The Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) follows the ‘Development Matters in the EYFS’ guidance. The following statements indicate what children should be able to achieve by the end of reception.
Through Communication and Language:Pupils listen to stories, accurately anticipating key events and respond to what they hear with relevant comments, questions or actions (Listening and Attention ELG) They are supported to sequence stories and events. Pupils use past, present and future forms accurately when talking about events that have happened or are happening in the future (Speaking ELG) They develop their own narratives and explanations by connecting ideas of events. (Speaking ELG) They learn about historical narrative, sequence and a sense of chronology and duration. They answer ‘how’ and ‘why’ questions about their experiences and in response to stories and events (Understanding ELG)
Through Mathematics:To use everyday language to talk, related to time (Shape Space and Measures, ELG) They begin to use language related to the passage of time: learning that times pass in sequential order; using the past, present and future tense; learning that there is associated key vocabulary and that time changes us all.
- Children should know about similarities and differences in relation to places, objects, materials and living things. (The World ELG) They compare and contrast, looking at similarities, differences and variety. They are introduced to artefacts and the use these objects purposefully in their imaginative play.
- They talk about the features of their own immediate environment and how environments might vary from one another. (The World ELG) They gain a sense of historical enquiry;
- They talk about changes, explaining why some things occur (The World ELG)
Through Understanding of the World:Children should be able to ‘talk about past and present events in their own lives and in the lives of family members (People and Communities. Early Learning Goal, ELG) Know about similarities and differences between themselves and others, and among families, communities and traditions(People and Communities ELG) Thus developing a sense of uniqueness and of belonging to a community.
Key Stage 1
Pupils develop an awareness of the past, using common words and phrases relating to the passing of time. They learn where the people and events they study fit within a chronological framework and identify similarities and differences between ways of life in different periods. They use a wide vocabulary of everyday historical terms and learn to ask and answer questions, choosing and using parts of stories and other sources to show that they know and understand key features of events. They understand some of the ways in which we find out about the past and identify different ways in which it is represented.
In planning to ensure the progression described above through teaching about the people, events and changes outlined below, teachers are often introducing pupils to historical periods that they will study more fully at key stages 2 and 3. Pupils are taught about changes within living memory. Where appropriate, these should be used to reveal aspects of change in national life. Pupils are taught events beyond living memory that are significant nationally or globally. Year 1’s are taught about the Space Race and year 2’s about the Great Fire of London. Pupils are taught the lives of significant individuals in the past who have contributed to national and international achievements. Some are used to compare aspects of life in different periods.
Key Stage 2
Pupils continue to develop a chronologically secure knowledge and understanding of British, local and world history, establishing clear narratives within and across the periods they study. They note connections, contrasts and trends over time and develop the appropriate use of historical terms. They regularly address and sometimes devise historically valid questions about change, cause, similarity and difference, and significance. We teach children to construct informed responses that involve thoughtful selection and organisation of relevant historical information. They understand how our knowledge of the past is constructed from a range of sources.
In planning to ensure the progression described above through teaching the British, local and world history outlined below, teachers combine overview and depth studies to help pupils understand both the long arc of development and the complexity of specific aspects of the content. Pupils are taught changes in Britain from the Stone Age to the Iron Age, through studies around the lives of Rosa Parks and Walter Tull learn about history that extends pupils’ chronological knowledge beyond 1066, carry out a depth study of Ancient Egypt and learn about Ancient Greece, Greek life and achievements and their influence on the western world.
What is the impact of our history curriculum?
At Regent Farm First School children become well-rounded and successful historians informed by the National Curriculum so they have a sense of time, with a developing coherent chronological understanding. Our schools core values Determination, Team Work, Respect and Curiosity are woven into the History curriculum; promoting a desire to embrace challenging activities, including opportunities to undertake high-quality research across a range of history topics. Pupils will support, evaluate and challenge their own and others’ views using historical evidence from a range of sources and think, reflect, debate, discuss and evaluate the past, developing an understanding of their place in the world. They will work together to share thoughts and present ideas. We fuel their and fascination, wanting them to develop a lifelong curiosity for history, enjoying building on their knowledge as them move onto middle school and beyond.