Our history curriculum aims to excite pupils with a growing knowledge of the past of both Britain and the wider world. Through working as historians, we aim for our pupils to develop a keen interest in the past, beginning to appreciate how the past has a bearing on the present. We support our children in developing the ability to think critically when examining evidence and can develop their own opinions, which they can then back up with their prior historical knowledge and developing historical skills.
Chronology is a key feature within our curriculum design. It is deliberately sequenced to support development of chronology. As children move through school, they begin to recognise that different things were happening in different places in the world at the same time.
Every unit of work includes a focus on chronology, to help children understand where the period of history they are studying fits within their knowledge to date of the past/ chronology, always linking to prior learning.
Through an enquiry based approach, children are taught key history knowledge in a variety of ways. First hand sources, or where not possible replicas or pictures are used in all units of work to support the children in being historians, developing the skills to find out about the past.
Key historical vocabulary is planned, developed explicitly in teaching and revisited.
Exploring objects looking at similarities and differences.
My History – looking at vocabulary before, after, next.
Looking at artefacts
History of communication/
Key historical figures.
Local history –canals and railways.
Great Fire of London/ Guy Fawkes/Remembrance Day
Stone Age/Iron Age
Romans – Italy
Alfred the Great.
During early year children develop an understanding of the time before they were alive, based on living history. They focus on working with family members. Through role play children explore objects from present and past understanding that some things have changed over time, beginning to consider why, and some things have not changed.
Early historical vocabulary is discretely taught and explained and then regularly referred to in direct teaching and continuous provision, displayed in classroom to remind adults to keep reinforcing key language with the children. Victorian toys are used in the provision for role play to explore how they have changed over time.
In year 1 children extend their breadth of understanding to change in national life over time and the begin to consider impact of those changes on their life today. They study communication over time. They use a range of artefacts to work as historians to develop their knowledge and understanding focusing initially on spoken communication from early telephones moving through to modern day mobile phones and Skype/ Facetime etc. They then consider pre telephone and focus on development of written communication looking back to William Caxton and early communication through to present day including Tim Berners Lee, from early writing and printing through to the Internet.
Children begin to look at significant local people. They learn about the life of Thomas Telford and his impact on the lives of people of Macclesfield, through the development of the canals. They then move on to look at the achievements of George Stephenson and explain why he is famous by investigating some of the main events in his life using a range of sources.
In Year 2 the children develop an increasing sense of chronology, moving to time periods beyond living history.
They study two significant national events, understanding when these happened relative to today and to each other and their impact on people at the time, developing empathy.
They learn about the Great Fire of London, beginning to explore cause and effect through understanding aspects of life at the time and how these differ from their lives today. In addition, the use of artefacts/ pictures of artefacts, children begin to understand how first hand written and pictorial sources can be used to help us develop our knowledge of the past. They look at the diary of Samuel Pepys.
The children then study Guy Fawkes and the Gunpowder Plot, finding out about the lives of another significant individual at the time. They begin to consider why people may have acted in certain ways and the impact of their actions on society then and now.
Building from their work on local significant people in Year 1, the children begin to look at significant international figures. These have been chosen to build on the theme of travel started in Year 1 and to link to developing geography knowledge, understanding how their journeys in the context of life at the time and how they have impacted on life today. They will look at the expeditions of Amelie Earhart and Ibn Battuta.
In Year 3 the children develop an increasing sense of chronology, moving a long way into the past to look at changes in Britain from the Stone Age to Iron Age. As they begin Key Stage 2 they are also beginning to understand that different things are happening in different parts of the world at the same time.
Building on from artefacts and written / pictorial evidence of past children move on to develop an understanding of archaeology and its place in helping us find out more about the past.
In looking at the Stone Age, Children are introduced to the idea that people have been living in Britain for a very long time. They learn about the changes that occurred between the middle Stone Age [Mesolithic Times] to the Iron Age – a period of over 10,000 years! Children think about what Britain was like after the last Ice Age, realising that only a few people lived in Britain at the time and then thinking about how they fed and clothed themselves, why they were nomadic and draw conclusions using the evidence we have, to realise that for some questions there are no clear answers. They study Howick House, in Northumberland (a recently discovered Mesolithic house) and think about how this has changed our views of hunter-gatherers? They then move on to study the Iron Age with a particular focus on the concept of change brought about by these new technologies. Children discuss how we recognise the defining features of each period to consider change through physical features, such as dress, architecture, transport, and the ideas that shape the period. They look at the impact of the progress the Ages brought to people at the time and use this information to think about when was it better to live Stone Age or Iron Age and why?
The children then move to look more internationally looking at the distant past. They begin by identifying key ancient civilizations – Ancient Sumer; The Indus Valley; Ancient Egypt and The Shang Dynasty of Ancient China and consider different things in different parts of the world at the same time. They then move on to an in depth study of Ancient Egypt and look at the achievements of the Ancient Egyptians. Key achievements taught include a focus on early writing, building on work on communication in Key Stage 1.
Children understand why and how pyramids were constructed, looking at the beliefs of the Egyptians and the impact of religion in building.
Children develop understanding of the importance of the River Nile for the daily life and achievements of the Egyptians.
In Year 4 children take a more focused look at the chronology of British history from the Romans to 1066, with a focus on cause and effect and the impact of the Romans on Britain.
Invasion is considered helping children to understand why people would want to invade others and the impact on society. They look at the invasion of Britain and study British resistance and in particular Boudicca.
Children continue to develop knowledge through artefacts and enquiry based approaches. Focuses for learning about legacy include travel the development of roads and place names, early opportunities for trade developing from development of travel, homes and settlements with a focus on sanitation, heating and interior design and development of coins. All work refers back to children’s prior knowledge from other time periods studied to make links and understand change over time. For example, in looking at homes children will refer back to prior knowledge about homes in Stone Age and Iron Age. Work on development of roads will refer back to key stage 1 work on development of canals, railways and flight – always placing new learning in context of what children know already.
Developing their work on Boudicca and invasion, children look at more recent invasions and the differences between invasion and war through their short topic on WWI and WWII. This is linked to a local study of soldiers from Macclesfield who fought in these wars and the War Graves project which was developed with the British Legion. They also consider what is meant by a civil war.
The children move on to looking at the next invaders of England, The Angles, Saxons and Jutes from Northern Europe, who became the Anglo Saxons. They explore whether invasions always help a country/nation to develop? Children will think about why nations/groups invade and make links back to the work on the Romans, to consider the impact of different groups of invaders on settlements and kingdoms. They learn about some of the tensions involved in the settlement as well as ways of life and matters that impact on us still. They think about why they settled where they did e.g. thinking about the importance of rivers and water. Links are made with other societies that contributed to the formation of the United Kingdom and how Saxons, Vikings and Scots contributed to the development of institutions, culture and ways of life in the country. There is a strong emphasis on children investigating issues and solving valid historical questions recognising the nature of the evidence on which their judgements and knowledge are based.
In Year 5 the children use and apply their understanding of chronology; developing and creating their own time lines of periods studied in previous years and critically appraising others. This further develops their understanding that time periods they have learned about did not all occur at discrete times e.g. The Stone Age and Ancient Egypt periods overlapped, but were in different parts of the world. They will also recognise that the length of time of historical periods varies e.g. Ancient Egypt spanned thousands of years and The Anglo Saxon period was only hundreds of years etc.
Through the study of Ancient Greek architecture, the children complete an inquiry into Greek buildings and what their uses were. They study temples and amphitheatres, considering why they were designed and built the way they were. They look at pictures of a range of buildings and draw their own conclusions based on these. They make links and comparisons with previous work on homes and buildings in Y1, Y2, Y3 and Y4. They extend this work to think about the influence on western architecture and construction today, focussing on Macclesfield. They then complete an historical enquiry, comparing life in Sparta and Athens using evidence to think about which was better and how they were different. This links to Year 4 work on thinking about civil wars and why sometimes neighbouring countries fight or how sometimes countries have internal battles.
The children build on their learning from Y4, and how England continued to be shaped by different invaders through looking at sources from the invasion of Lindisfarne to explore what happened there and study the differences in society and people’s beliefs and practices (English vs Vikings). Discuss why monasteries were such good places for Vikings to raid and how much fear the Viking raids must have instilled. Children will then carry out an inquiry which looks at the significance of Alfred the Great and his impact on England, comparing his achievements to those of other monarchs to see if the title The Great is justified. Use evidence such as Gildas, Nennius, Anglo-Saxon Chronicle and images and depictions of Alfred to assess different views about him and how and why they might differ. Children produce “character sketches/obituaries” of his life drawing attention to developments in aspects such as towns, navy, army, roads, trade, laws, education. How effective do pupils consider the methods used by Alfred were, eg. burhs; They learn about key aspects of Alfred’s life and his impact on the development of England.
This leads on to looking at the significance of the events of 1066 and the invasion of England by the Normans (links with invasions of England by Anglo Saxons and Romans). There is a focus on wars and battles including civil wars linking also to the Y4 work on the War Graves.
In Year 6, the children deepen their chronological knowledge and explore how different societies developed and changed during the same periods of time. They are developing their understanding of what it means to be an historian through their use of a range of sources and making deductions, comparisons and inferences alongside their previous learning to draw conclusions.
To being with, the children focus on settlement and why people chose to migrate to specific areas, making links to the Y3 study of Egyptians and the importance of water in choosing where to live. Links also to Romans, Anglo Saxons and Viking and also the earlier work on growth of Macclesfield. They move on to look at the impact of the invasion by the Spanish; focussing on the differences between the two societies (e.g. religion/beliefs, technological development and culture) and how without invasion societies would be very different. Links with studies in Y4 & Y5 of the Vikings, Romans and Anglo Saxons. Children also make comparisons between the Tudors in England and the Aztecs which were two societies which existed during the same time period.
A local history study examines the impact of the industrial revolution on the development of Macclesfield. This links back to work in Y1 and Y2 which looked at transport. The children will focus on the development of the canal and silk industry and how this led to the growth of the town, making links to settlement work from previous years. They will also consider the positive and negative impacts of the industrial revolution on societies. This will include an in-depth study of the local mills and changes with the onset of steam which transformed industry and transportation and the impact this had on life in Britain e.g. steam trains.