The History and Geography curriculum

Children’s understanding of time and space, and the scales at which associated processes and phenomena operate, is vital for learning. Consequently, Geography and History often form the ‘glue’  between different subjects and learning sequences in the Mantle of the Expert.

The geography curriculum and sequences of learning in the Mantle of the Expert

We arrange the geography curriculum in order to allow pupils to understand and develop accurate schema for place, space, and time. Using an enquiry based approach and the Mantle of the Expert, children are encouraged to develop their understanding of the complexity and diversity of the human and physical environment

Our pupils geographical journey starts in Reception, where children begin to make sense of their surroundings; at a local scale at home, school and the local area, and start to look at other areas in the world; it’s people, culture and communities. They start to investigate the diversity of the natural world, drawing maps, making plans and building up the foundations of knowledge and vocabulary for future studies.

We connect with other subjects within the Mantle of the Expert approach to develop the children’s knowledge of location, place, physical and human processes at all scales, while building a variety of skills that are required for geographical study. Through this, pupils learn what geographical knowledge ‘is’, and what geographers ‘do’.

We build on the foundations of place, space and scale in order for children to build enquiry and acquire knowledge of the interdependence of places and processes, an increased knowledge of the impact human and physical activity on the natural environment and the development of human and physical diversity.

Children build their knowledge and understanding of places and processes and geographical skills year on year through a sequence of learning. They study place at a variety of scales by drawing on planned and incidental experiences, allowing them to understand their place in the world. Through their primary years, this steady accretion of knowledge allows them to note physical and human changes over time, understand the complexity of their world and gain individual perspectives and modes of enquiry.

We believe experiential learning is a vital part of geography. We encourage fieldwork at a local and regional scale, linking geographical knowledge and skills with other areas of the foundation and core curriculum. Examples of Mantle topics and associated geographical components are given below.

2021-23 Mantle of the Expert foci


Examples of geographical enquiry within the Mantle of the Expert

Experiential opportunity

Jungle Explorers


Where are jungles? What do they look like? What is it like to live there? What are the animals and plants like? How are jungles changing? Where are jungles located?

Zoo visit

Animal Rescuer


How do animals form part of habitats? What do they need to thrive? How are they threatened? What can we do to help plants and animals?

Zoo visit

Bee keepers


Local fieldwork

Space travellers


What is the Earth’s atmosphere made of and how is it structured? Why can’t we breathe in space? Why are global weather patterns different? Why and how are other planets different to the Earth?

NASA project, STEM and Ogden Trust visits

Ancient Greeks


How do landscapes and weather vary with latitude and longitude? How is living and Greece different, and has it changed over time? Why do eruptions and earthquakes happen and what is their effect?


Travel agents


How is weather effected by latitude, longitude, Equator, hemispheres, tropics, polar circles & time zones. How do we use maps and GIS? How are different countries ‘different’?

School visitor

Outdoor survival and explorers


How do people in cold and mountainous areas differ from us. What are plants and animals like in cold places? How is climate change affecting cold places?

School visitor

Factory and town planners


How does human activity affect biomes, vegetation belts, land use, economic activity, distribution of resources, etc? What can we do to lessen the impact of human activity?

Local visit, Local council visit. Waste management centre

Dinosaur archaeologists


What would dinosaurs habitat have been like? What do dinosaurs eat? How does evolution reflect landscape and climate?

Museum visit

Aztec life


How is weather effected by latitude, longitude, Equator, hemispheres, tropics, polar circles & time zones. How do we use maps and GIS? How are different countries ‘different’? How do landscapes and weather vary with latitude and longitude? How is living and Greece different, and has it changed over time? Why do eruptions and earthquakes happen and what is their effect? How are mountains ‘made’?

Museum visit, Archivist visit

Greek soldiers


Local people in World War 1


Why do countries change? Why do people invade or fight over land? What is Europe like and how has it changed?

Western Front organisation

Museum and western Front visit

Local Environmental issues


Why is our local environment like it is? How can we help to look after our local area? What plants and animals are typical of our local area? How does climate change and human activity effect our landscape? What places have I experienced that demonstrate the relationship between humans and the environment.

Parish council and local landowner visits/commissions, Worcester Wildlife Trust, Climate action/ Climate emergency group

Environmental Conservationists


Footpath developers


Geographical skills and knowledge are sequenced throughout the curriculum to permit the development of a sound, composite knowledge base to take into further study. Skills and geographical knowledge are organised in such a way as to encourage retrieval, rehearsal and practise, building broad and informed schema through which pupils understand the world around them.

Within the Mantle of the Expert commissions, there are planned and incidental opportunities that we use to encourage children to think spatially, promoting geographical enquiry through thoughtful questioning, analysis, interpretation and reflection. We draw on children’s personal experiences out of school and planned class and field-based opportunities to encourage children to link geographical knowledge with other areas of learning in order to promote citizenship, stewardship and advocacy at a local and global level.

Our History programme

The children learn history through our programme which is linked to the National Curriculum and the vast amount of research associated with History pedagogy in the Primary sector. We endeavour to ensure that children engage with broad, substantive concepts and the disciplinary knowledge through which historical accounts are created.

The historical aspects of learning are shaped at a school level to be enriched through the Mantle of the Expert, providing meaningful examples and repeated encounters in ‘planned routes’ through historical topics. We take every opportunity for experiential learning and, often discrete or in the moment ‘live’ curriculum opportunities to revisit or consolidate knowledge.

Our sequence of learning for history allows purposeful acquisition of historical knowledge and problems, building a foundation of knowledge about periods, settings and topics to prepare children for study in Key Stage 3 and 4. Learning is split between substantive concepts (such as settlement, invasion, monarchy…), chronological knowledge (when, who, how….), meaningful examples and repeated encounters (see sequence below). Through this approach, we aim to build a mental timeline of the broad characteristics of periods; knowledge of critical features, events and developments and; the methods, skills and arguments that are required for their study.

Immersion in history through the Mantle of the Expert.

Planned opportunities for children to experience and examine the characteristics of historical periods is enabled by immersive engagement through the Mantle of the Expert- children may take the role of a Roman soldier, an Egyptian builder who is tasked to coordinate workers in pyramid construction or be lucky enough to visit historical sites such as stone barrows or the Western Front in Belgium! Enrichment through the Mantle of the Expert often allows abstract chronological and disciplinary material to be much more accessible to the early learner.

While building chronological understanding and the specifics of historical periods, our curriculum ensures that children build a shared language and understanding of historical study. The periods selected as part of our Mantle of the Expert programme build repeated engagement with vital ‘second order’ concepts such as cause and consequence; change and continuity; similarity and difference and; significance- ‘the overview of historical study lurking beneath the depth’ (Banham, 2008). These ‘account’ and enquiry-based narratives are then substantiated by children addressing and examining the processes of obtaining sources and evidence,  and the interpretation of these narratives in their role as active participants in an historical period or as ‘experts’ in their study.

The diagram below illustrates that periods that we have selected for study through the Mantle of the Expert, and how historical sequences of learning are embedded in this programme. We have carefully selected a range of time periods and time scales; places and societies/cultures to ensure a sound foundation in British, local and global history and the understanding of the rich complexity and diversity of the past.

Development in historical education at Grimley and Holt.

The development of historical skills and declarative knowledge starts in Reception where, through ‘Knowledge and Understanding the World’, pupils begin to build an appreciation of time, change and the vocabulary required in order to articulate this understanding. A substantial portion of this is accumulated through engagement with family and local history, stories and narrative materials (‘hinterland’ information) and basic, chronological schema to develop the generative knowledge for learning in later Key Stages.

The breadth of knowledge is increased in Key Stage 2, where children examine periods in greater depth and narratives are built, into which children fix historical schema. At this stage, children rehearse and consolidate disciplinary and substantive knowledge through specific and meaningful experiences. These planned experiences involve formative assessment, ensuring that firm foundations are set and are built on during their learning journey. Like geography, history has a distinct content and pedagogical knowledge. We endeavour to ensure that the Mantle of the Expert approach enhances and enriches history by permitting explicit and experiential engagement with historical knowledge and skills.

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