As part of the Mantle of the Expert approach, History offers a coherently planned sequence of lessons to help educators ensure they have progressively covered the skills and concepts required in the national curriculum. We aim to develop children’s understanding of substantive concepts, which are revisited throughout different units and are identified in the overview below. Throughout various units of study, students develop historical enquiry skills which are built upon progressively. These skills comprise of Historical Interpretations, Historical Investigations, Chronological Understanding, Knowledge and Understanding of Events and People in the Past, Presenting, Organising and Communicating, and Substantive Concepts and Historical Vocabulary. Additionally, as students progress, they also learn disciplinary concepts such as Continuity and Change, Cause and Consequence, Similarities and Differences, and Historical Significance, which are interwoven into these units.
The coverage of some history in KS1, such as ‘Travel and Transport’ and ‘Significant Explorers’, enables children to acquire an understanding of time, events and people within their own living memory as well as their parents’ and grandparents’ memories. For KS1, we have designed a curriculum that can be covered chronologically in each year group to allow a full opportunity for children to really grasp the difficult concept of the passing of time. Therefore, in year 1, children will start with a unit that is the furthest back in time and end with a unit that looks at some more recent history. This order repeats again in year 2.
The intent in KS2 is that children work in chronological order from year 3 to year 6 on the core British history study units taken from the national curriculum, starting with ‘Stone Age to Iron Age’ in year 3 and then progressing onto more modern history in Y6 with the ‘World War II’ unit. This will be repeated for ancient history, starting with ‘The Anglo Saxons’ in year 3, moving on to ‘Ancient Greece’ in year 5 and ending with ‘Maya Civilisation’ in year 6. There is an optional thematic unit at the end of each year group with the intention of introducing children to a wider variety of historical topics. The aim is for children to truly develop and embed a sense of time, understand how civilisations were interconnected and to be exposed to a diverse range of history topics. Children start to understand how some historical events occurred concurrently in different locations, e.g. ancient Egypt, ancient Greece and the Stone Age.
The lesson sequence for learning history is crucial for children to gain a better understanding of the subject. In order to enhance their retention and recollection of the information, the lessons are structured to consider prior learning and offer opportunities for revision and retrieval of essential dates, events, and facts. To achieve this, Remember It sections are included at the beginning of lessons that revisit the key knowledge taken from the linked knowledge organiser. Retrieval quizzes are also provided to make sure that the essential knowledge sticks with the children. This approach allows revision to become a part of good practice and ultimately helps to build a depth to children’s historical understanding.
To ensure that children can build on prior knowledge while introducing new skills and challenges, revisiting and consolidating skills is an essential part of the lessons and resources. Each lesson incorporates the revision and introduction of key vocabulary. This vocabulary is included in knowledge organisers, display materials, and additional resources to allow children to repeat and revise this knowledge. The lessons also include adult guidance and accurate historical subject knowledge to support teachers and other adults in teaching historical skills, knowledge, and concepts.
The overall goal of these lessons is to inspire pupils and practitioners to develop a love of history and understand how it has shaped the world we live in. It is critical for children to understand that the past influences the present and the future. These lessons encourage children to learn from history, use the information to shape a better future, and realize that they cannot change history but can learn from it.
The changes that have been implemented in the history curriculum will be visible across the school. With the increase in the profile of history, students will have a better understanding and appreciation of historical events and their significance. The learning environment will be more consistent as historical technical vocabulary will be displayed, spoken and used by all learners. This will help students to communicate effectively and confidently in their discussions and written work related to history. The engagement of parents and the wider community will be improved through the use of history-specific home learning tasks and opportunities suggested in lessons and overviews for wider learning. By encouraging teachers and pupils to love history, they will be motivated to continue building on this wealth of historical knowledge and understanding, now and in the future. The progression of students across the school can also be measured through key questioning skills built into lessons, child-led assessment, and low-stakes assessment. These assessments will inform and target next steps in learning, thereby ensuring that the students are on the right track and making progress.
Substantive knowledge is a crucial element of the education system, especially when it comes to history. It refers to the core facts and historical knowledge that children should learn and retain after a unit has been taught. This includes significant events or people, historical narrative, period features, chronology, and substantive concepts. To help students understand these concepts better, a progression map has been created, which provides a concise summary of the substantive knowledge for each unit.
Substantive concepts are another essential aspect of history within the Mantle of the Expert approach. These are the concepts that students will come across repeatedly throughout their academic journey. Such concepts are hard to define in one definition as they mean slightly different things in different contexts and periods. Students will slowly build a coherent understanding of these concepts as they progress. For instance, ‘power’ and subsidiary words such as ‘rule’, ‘monarchy’, ’emperor’, and ‘democracy’ are some of the substantive concepts that students learn. It is not expected that students will have a complete understanding of these concepts by the end of primary school, however, they should be able to draw from their learning in history to better explain what they mean. The substantive concepts addressed in each unit are covered more than once to ensure that students have plenty of opportunities to develop their understanding.
In order to gain a comprehensive understanding of history, it is important for children to develop a range of skills and knowledge known as disciplinary knowledge. This encompasses the ability to critically analyse and evaluate different arguments and interpretations of past events, allowing them to form their own reasoned judgements. Disciplinary knowledge can be further divided into two categories – disciplinary concepts and historical enquiry – both of which are crucial in developing a deep understanding of history as a subject.
Disciplinary concepts are essential tools used in the study of history. These concepts form the fundamental framework of many questions that historians ask about the past. They include continuity and change, cause and consequence, similarity and difference, and historical significance. Understanding these concepts can enable children to ask historically-valid questions, create connections, identify contrasts, examine trends, and construct analyses. These concepts have been mapped out and differentiated for key stage 1, lower key stage 2, and upper key stage 2 in the MoE overview for History. By mastering these concepts, students can enhance their historical thinking skills and develop a deeper understanding of the past.
Historical enquiry is a term used to describe the set of skills that historians employ to critically analyze evidence and make claims about past events. It involves comparing different interpretations of the past and understanding how they are constructed. Children who engage in historical enquiry learn about primary and secondary sources, how knowledge of the past is constructed, and develop a sense of chronology and connections between time periods. The document link below provides detailed information on the historical enquiry skills required at different stages of education, for key stage 1, lower key stage 2, and upper key stage 2.
Level expected at the end of EYFS
Three and Four-Year-Olds
Understanding the World
Begin to make sense of their own life-story and
Understanding the World
Comment on images of familiar situations in the past.
Compare and contrast characters from stories, including figures from the past.
Understanding the World Past and present
Talk about the lives of people around them and their roles in society.
Know some similarities and differences between things in the past and now, drawing on their
Understand the past through settings, characters and events encountered in books read in class and storytelling.
Key Stage 1 National Curriculum Expectations
Key Stage 2 National Curriculum Expectations
Pupils should be taught about:
• changes within living memory. Where appropriate, these should be used to reveal aspects of change in national life;
• events beyond living memory that are significant nationally or globally [for example the Great Fire of London, the first aeroplane flight or events commemorated through festivals or anniversaries];
• the lives of significant individuals in the past who have contributed to national and international achievements. Some should be used to compare aspects of life in different periods [for example Elizabeth I and Queen Victoria, Christopher Columbus and Neil Armstrong, William Caxton and Tim Berners-Lee, Pieter Bruegel the Elder and LS Lowry, Rosa Parks and Emily Davison, Mary Seacole and/or Florence Nightingale and Edith Cavell];
• significant historical events, people and places in their own locality.
Pupils should be taught about:
• changes in Britain from the Stone Age to the Iron Age;
• the Roman Empire and its impact on Britain;
• Britain’s settlement by Anglo-Saxons and Scots;
• the Viking and Anglo-Saxon struggle for the Kingdom of England to the time of Edward the Confessor;
• a local history study;
• a study of an aspect or theme in British history that extends pupils’ chronological knowledge beyond 1066;
• the achievements of the earliest civilizations – an overview of where and when the first civilizations appeared and a depth study of one of the following: Ancient Sumer; The Indus Valley; Ancient Egypt; The Shang Dynasty of Ancient China;
• Ancient Greece – a study of Greek life and achievements and their influence on the western world;
• a non-European society that provides contrasts with British history – one study chosen from: early Islamic civilization, including a study of Baghdad c. AD 900; Mayan civilization
c. AD 900; Benin (West Africa) c. AD 900-1300.