The history curriculum at Cathcart Street seeks to give pupils a solid foundation and broad overview in some of the most important periods, events and themes in British and world history. The curriculum gives pupils a strong grounding in British history, taught chronologically in KS2 from the first settlements through Roman Britain, the Vikings, Anglo Saxons, the medieval period and up to the Industrial Revolution and touching on Britain during the two World Wars. While studying these periods the units explore themes of change and continuity, perspective and power.
Our history curriculum identifies historical knowledge required to give pupils an understanding of key historical concepts such as civilisation, power and empire. As well as teaching pupils the discipline of the subject of history itself such as cause and effect, questioning, continuity and change, significance, source analysis, interpretation, perspective, continuity and change are all explicitly taught and practised. Pupils are taught historical enquiry skills such as interpretation, reliability of sources, and examination of sources and collections of items, through half termly varied contexts. Over time, pupils will develop a coherent sense of chronology and an awareness of how events, locally, nationally and internally have shaped life over time.
During lessons pupils will use a variety of increasingly complex extended texts and extracts in order to ‘read to learn ‘about history. Thus by the time pupils reach Y6, they have developed some stamina and the ability to extract useful historical information in order to support their historical argument.
As part of our language rich curriculum, conceptual historical language and vocabulary are taught, so over time pupils become familiar and use words relevant to the past. Each class with develop an age appropriate growing bank of words to support concepts, knowledge and skills.
Because of the depth and breadth of coverage required in history, we have decided that our KS2 curriculum is delivered through a fully researched, intelligently sequenced, knowledge rich curriculum, informed by the best evidence available and written by experts outside of our school. Through this, we are confident that key concepts as well as the discipline of history itself is accessible for pupils. We are using a similar approach to the Key Stage One curriculum, which is currently under development.
The unit on Ancient Greece introduces key ideas around power and its legitimacy, the Shang Dynasty gives insight into the progress and achievements in China at a time when there was much less occurring in Europe. The unit on the Middle East gives pupils an overview of the history of this vitally important region and the reasons for the intractable problems faced today. We chose to include units on the Benin Kingdom to challenge the narrative often prevalent in the teaching of African history – celebrating a highly successful civilisation while introducing the slave trade. Finally the unit on Civil Rights provides a survey of way black people have been treated in the USA, through the Civil Rights movement and Dr King, right the way to the Black Lives Matter. By bringing pupils up to the present day – in the case of Civil Rights and the Middle East – the curriculum demonstrates the importance of past events in shaping the world of today.
In key Stage one, Pupils will be introduced to concepts they revisit in more depth in Key Stage Two. Children are introduced to medieval Britain, Victorian times, study of significant events, and people, comparing life then and now on a largely social change concept. The unit on the Space Age focuses on technological advances and endeavour.
Knowledge organisers are used as a planning and coverage tool, and provides clarity to teacher’s, pupils and parents about what is expected to be learnt and remembered in each unit of work. Regular ‘quizzing’ allows pupils to retrieve and remember the history they have learnt, and we believe that content can be retained in the long term.
We do not data track pupils acquisition of historical skills as they are not hierarchical. Assessment for learning, involves feedback, questioning and dynamic assessment during lessons and this will draw out pupils knowledge. Longer written pieces may be used half termly to demonstrate historical understanding and make a summative assessment.
Progress in history is measured over time, and not necessarily in individual lessons, and can be demonstrated in pupils knowing and remembering more from the curriculum. Throughout the year key content is reinforced and memory built through short assessment.
The curriculum is deliberately ambitious. It challenges pupils to make connections across time and place and sets up pupils for, we hope, a life-long love and understanding of an important subject, while providing a foundation of understanding that will make them curious, active citizens of this country and the world.