The All Saints history curriculum endeavours to ignite children’s curiosity about the life of people who lived in Britain and the wider world in the past. Our enriching, stimulating, enquiry-based curriculum not only enables the children to find out about how and why the world, our country and local community have changed over time, but also the ways in which they have stayed the same and why particular historical periods are significant.
Our history curriculum aims to equip children with knowledge about the past both ancient and modern. Additionally, through our whole-school BLPs (learning powers), the intention is for our children to be creative, critical thinkers about the knowledge they learn in history and to ask and answer intriguing and perceptive questions. With higher than average levels of language, we also aim for our children to be challenged using historical vocabulary to discuss their understanding.
Based near the River Wandle, our school church being of Norman origin and located a short distance from London, the All Saints community is steeped in a rich history which we benefit from in our history and geography learning.
Choices have been made about our humanities (history and geography) curriculum that reflect the Carshalton locality and increasing diversity of our school community while exciting our pupils with further significant historical periods from Britain and the wider world. Our curriculum gives children the cultural capital they need to understand the world and society they are growing up in while celebrating the diversity of the past.
History is taught as part of at least two half-termly themes in each year group, focusing on knowledge and skills as stated in the History National Curriculum. Historical knowledge is learned while enquiry, interpretation and developing an understanding of chronology make sense of this knowledge. The skills and knowledge needed have been identified at each year group and are built upon as the children move through the school. They are sequenced so the children reach their full potential ready for moving into Year 7. Furthermore, we have created our own medium-term plans to ensure all areas of the History National Curriculum are taught while the key skills, knowledge and language within each year group to support pitch and progression.
In each history-based theme, children undertake a variety of accessible activities paying close attention to the historical concepts which are built on throughout the years: continuity and change; cause and consequence; similarity and difference; and significance. Lessons encourage our children to think as historians using artefacts as sources and interpretations with school trips and visitors in school to complement and consolidate learning.
In every history theme, children will produce at least one piece of writing to apply historical understanding, use historical vocabulary and embed key skills from other areas of the curriculum. For example, a biography of Winston Churchill or a creative description of a Bronze Age settlement.
All classes have a time line on display. These have been created appropriate to the children’s age and consciously made to include the time periods taught at All Saints centred around the National Curriculum. Children are taught that time periods might overlap and some historical periods can occur at slightly different times in different parts of the world, for example the Shang Dynasty’s Bronze Age in China (Year 5) and Britain’s Bronze Age (Year 3).
All themes have an ‘entry’ and ‘exit point’ at All Saints and history themes might have a dress up day, an assembly, a visitor to school or a trip to hook children into the theme or celebrate their learning. For example, Year Three retold the story of The Odyssey in their Ancient Greece themed assembly to their parents, one of our Year 5 teachers dressed up as Samuel Pepys to be interviewed by Year 2 and Reception invited parents in to talk about what life was like for them when they were children. Additionally, optional home learning is centred around historical themes with creative suggestions for activities.
In EYFS, history is taught as part of ‘Understanding the World’ through continuous provision and adult-led learning. A more formal approach starts from Year 1 throughout the rest of the school. When beginning a new history theme, children are asked a Big enquiry-based Question to demonstrate their prior understanding. They then revisit the same question on completion of the historical aspects of the theme to show their progress thus adding to assessment opportunities.
Our approach to history at All Saints ensures our children are equipped with historical skills and knowledge that enable them to understand the world around them by learning how the past influences the present. They will leave us being ready for Year 7, confident in using historical vocabulary to talk about the past and understand that there were reasons for why significant events happened the way they did.
Outcomes of discussion with children, teaching and books and displays across the school will demonstrate a broad curriculum rich in history that reflects not only National Curriculum requirements but the All Saints community. Outcomes will show that children are curious and passionate about their learning, being able to critically question, use evidence and analyse while gathering a coherent knowledge of the past.
How can parents help?
We are lucky to be so close to the hardest working river in Europe during the Victorian period. The River Wandle, with its many waterwheels and where William Morris had a printing factory, was known to run purple during this time due to the printing ink washed into the River. Merton Abbey Mills is a good place to visit with its existing waterwheel. London is also considerably rich in its ‘Wow- factor’ history, especially from the Roman wall and amphitheatre and the rebuilt St Paul’s Cathedral after the Great Fire of London to The Tower of London. There are also many free museums to be visited from the Horniman Museum and the British Museum to the Victoria and Albert (V&A) Museum.
Families could visit the local Grove Park and Carshalton Ponds where there were once lavender fields facing All Saints Church built in Norman times. Taking a look at different style homes, other churches and buildings in Carshalton also encourages children to observe and ask questions. An internet search can also show what Carshalton and London were like many years ago.
Ask questions that encourage thinking and enquiring as well as factual knowledge:
- How do you know that…?
- Why do you think…?
- Why might people…?
- What do you think caused…?
- Why are these things the same/different?
- What changed when…?
Use historical language to talk about time/chronology in the past:
- Before you were born…
- When I was little…
- When your grandad was a child…
- During the Roman period/era/times…
- In the 6th century, …
- Yesterday, last week, a few years ago…
Avoid saying ‘in the olden days’!