Intent

History is a popular and important subject at Thomas Jones. It is a central strand of the integrated curriculum, driving many of our topics. One of the main purposes of history teaching and learning is to inspire pupils’ curiosity about the world they live in, both past and present.

Children at Thomas Jones gain the opportunity to study key periods of British history, ancient civilisations and influential people who have shaped our lives today both in Europe and worldwide. History and Geography are closely linked through our topic led approach which we feel is the best model for our children and the community we serve. Topics give the children something to ‘pin’ all other learning onto. Visits to historical sites as well as visitors in to school serve as a ‘hook’ at the start of a new topic or consolidation nearer the end, and again, give children cultural capital and a point of reference going forwards with their learning in history but also across the curriculum.

Children are taught to embody the role of a ‘historian’ and, despite the integrated curriculum, the subject of history is referred to during topic lessons that focus on the development of children’s historical skills. Children are given opportunities to develop their skills as a historian through motivating lines of enquiry where they interpret evidence and communicate their ideas.

Children also gain a sense of historical perspective and the development of chronological understanding through texts studied in English which may include both literature and non-fiction works. Thomas Jones follows the 2014 National Curriculum but this has been adapted for the needs of our community for example in Year 2, Africa forms the basis of the topic ‘Near and Far’ to reflect the large proportion of children of African heritage in our school.

As with all subjects at Thomas Jones, the learning of historical terms and vocabulary is prioritised and is something we do very well. Some of this is linked to children communicating their ideas both throughout and at the end of a topic both orally but also in writing. Correct spellings are insisted upon as well as an understanding of the vocabulary and how, in history, words may alter throughout eras and with the passing of time for example, King/Queen compared to Emperor.

 

Our history curriculum has been driven by pedagogy about cognition and learning. The ‘Progression of Skills and Understanding in History’ document refers to how historical concepts (and therefore as part of the cause, historical knowledge) are planned to be revisited year on year to embed and create ‘hereafter knowledge’. This instinctive layer of knowledge quietly underpins all later historical learning, there is a cumulative effect of teaching across key stages. For example, the concept of significance is studied in year 1 as children learn historical knowledge about Queen Victoria. This knowledge is revisited in year 6 as children learn more broadly about the Victorian era where yet again the concept of significance is studied when learning about the Industrial Revolution.

The curriculum bases great emphasis on both historical knowledge and historical skills and concepts.  On their own, neither of these are effective at embedding a knowledge and understanding of history long term, or giving children the opportunity to get better at history.

The importance of chronology to secure long-term knowledge should also be noted.  This includes both sequencing periods of history as well as knowing and understanding characteristics of specific eras. Our curriculum is designed with this in mind so that eras and people of significance can be revisited at different times to ensure that children can grasp how one particular era sits with another. Planning units of learning using key historical concepts, such as change and continuity, require children to draw on earlier learning and make comparisons and contrasts. This creates children who think historically and are confident with their knowledge. To assist with chronology, each class has a visual historical timeline they start building in year 1 and have on display as they progress through each year group. This gets added to during most topics throughout each year. Chronology in history is so important it has been classified as both a key concept and also part of historical knowledge.