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St Mary’s Catholic Primary School ‘Faith in Education’


History at St Mary’s



Our aim in the teaching of History at St Mary’s is for the children to be engaged in a knowledge-rich and a skills based curriculum.  We recognise the importance of this subject, as History provides an opportunity to learn how environments change and supports the developing of an understanding of who we are and where we come from. We want our children to be inspired and learn from significant historical events and people, to show curiosity and begin to think like historians.


Our curriculum is designed around an enquiry-based approach, where each unit has an enquiry question which is the golden thread throughout all of the learning objectives. The question will focus children’s learning and support their development of key skills. From EYFs up to Year 6, the children will be encouraged to explore the world around them and its history. We want the children to gain a chronological understanding of the world and how and why significant events have occurred. We want our curriculum to support the children in understanding of how decisions and actions have consequence and deepen their understanding of right from wrong, as well as celebrating diversity.



There is a clear progression in the way the children learn in History. During EYFs, KS1 and KS2 they will gain skills and knowledge and be expected to apply their learning. Learning will be delivered through topics which align closely to the National Curriculum, giving the children an opportunity to experience a range of different historical eras.


In Early Year children learn History by looking and comparing past and present events in their own lives. For example, looking at themselves as a baby in comparison to now. During Nursery and Reception, the children will begin to build foundations of understanding History by developing their communication and language skills, asking questions, recalling, retelling, and using language and vocabulary related to time. It is important that EYFs children can understand and discuss the past and present in their own lives before they progress into KS1. Teachers will support the children by sharing artefacts, books, photographs and having focused conversations.


In Key Stage 1 before moving onto learning about specific historical events and people, Year 1 will deliver a transition unit to support the children in understanding a period before their own. For example, the children may look at past and present toys. As children deepen their chronological understanding, they will be introduced to a range of historical events and individuals. For example, children will study the Great Fire of London and George Stephenson. The children will be introduced to simple timelines and be encouraged to make links between the topics they have learned about. Comparison is a huge theme throughout KS1 as it enables the children to gain a deeper understanding of chronology and the significance of certain events and people.


In Key Stage 2 children will build on prior learning and begin to work in a more complex way exploring and using a sequence of historical skills to gain a deeper understanding of a historical period. Every KS2 topic will have an overarching question which the children will be expected to answer at the end of the topic. For example, Year 5 will answer the question “Raiders or settlers: How should history really remember the Vikings?” To support the children in answering this question, the learning outcomes in each lesson will be tailored to help the children construct an answer. Each learning objective will focus on one of the following skills:

  • Cause and Consequence
  • Change and continuity
  • Similarities and differences
  • Historical significance
  • Sources and evidence
  • Historical interpretations


These skills are vital in encouraging the children to support their judgements, discuss aspects of source reliability and give reasons to explain their views. Repetition and practice of these skills will help the children think like historians and write increasing complex responses, and prepare them for high school.


Substantive knowledge is the historical facts we teach that form the narratives of the curriculum, this is the knowledge the children will learn about throughout the lessons. For example, the children will be aware of historical vocabulary such as monarchy and empire. This helps children make sense of the period.


Disciplinary knowledge is how we make use of these facts. The children will use this knowledge when they are investigating the information they have been given. Focusing on the way they use the facts given to answer their exploratory question, disciplinary knowledge is learnt by acquiring skills such as comparison and investigating a range of sources and evidence. These skills help the children develop critical thinking and process relationships between different periods in history.



Children will complete an assessment at the end of their topic, this will vary depending on they year group. EYFs will show their understanding through discussions and that evidence that they are aware of relevant vocabulary. KS1 will complete a mind map at the beginning and end of a topic, showing what they knew before the teaching and what they have learned as a result of it. KS2 will complete a range of different assessment tasks selected by teachers to suit the topic, such as quizzes, role play, posters, mind maps or anything else relevant to that topic. Each KS2 class will be expected to provide at least one piece of extended writing which will go towards their end of topic assessment.




Our history curriculum will ensure that children understand chronology and demonstrate this when discussing routines and past events.  They will be able to compare and contrast characters from stories, historical figures and significant events developing positive attitudes about differences between people.   They will develop an understanding of timelines and their importance as well as an appreciation of the complexity and diversity of human societies and developments.  They will be able to present, organise and communicate information and ideas, and interpret a range of different sources by understanding methods of historical enquiry.  They will gain a range of history specific vocabulary understanding abstract terms such as ‘empire’, ‘civilisation’, ‘parliament’ and ‘peasantry’.

Children will have enjoyed learning about a range of periods in history and will have developed the ability to think like a historian.  The knowledge and skills gained will enable them to successfully access the next stage of learning and continue to flourish.