Principles and Purpose of History Curriculum

Having a deep and rich understanding of our own, national and world histories plays a crucial role in ensuring that all students feel empowered to engage positively and proactively in making our own community and the wider world a better place. As a result, the History curriculum is intentionally designed with our students in mind and to ensure that each and every student is able to fulfil their potential. 


Our curriculum is planned to ensure that every lesson is engaging and enjoyable for all learners. We aim to do this by providing students with an opportunity to explore a range of diverse histories and cultures, by focussing learning on relevant and historiographically-driven enquiry questions, and by maintaining high levels of support and challenge. As a department, we are ambitious for each and every student; we are proactive in supporting those with SEND, are working to ensure our diverse student population feels represented and positively involved in the evolution of our curriculum offer, and are committed to challenging our significantly able student population through the development of their personal and critical thinking skills.

Why this, why now?

The History curriculum is driven by the aim of ensuring all learners develop the substantive, disciplinary and powerful knowledge that will empower them as they enter the wider world. 


At key stage three, the curriculum is sequenced chronologically, so that students can effectively engage in questioning cause and consequence, and so that students re-encounter key substantive concepts (such as monarchy, protest, empire etc.), enabling them to more effectively consider ideas of change and continuity, similarity and difference. For example, in Year 8 students will study the Haitian Revolution, looking at issues such as rights, freedom, revolution and protest, ideas that they will again look at in Year 9 when studying how much the rights of Britons changed after WWII. The key stage 3 curriculum is also designed to the develop substantive knowledge and understanding of substantive concepts that will support students' journey into GCSE. For example, students will re-encounter the aforementioned substantive concepts again in Year 11 with the topic ‘The USA, 1954–75: conflict at home and abroad’ which includes exploring the Civil Rights Movement in America (part of our new GCSE for 2023). Making these connections across time and place, allows our students to develop powerful knowledge that will enrich not just their historical understanding but also their cultural understanding of the wider world. 


The curriculum is also designed to allow for the development of students' disciplinary knowledge, so that students are explicitly aware of and are able to develop the tools that a historian needs to carry out a thorough and meaningful enquiry into a historical issue. Students are taught to recognise the importance of and how to engage critically with sources and interpretations, to be able to form their own evaluative judgements and reasoning. This is part of the learning journey, where in Year 7 students are, for example, introduced to sources and asked ‘what can we learn?’ and by Year 9 are asked to use sources to assess interpretations. The disciplinary focus of each topic is clearly outlined in our curriculum map, as are the substantive concepts and enquiry questions that shape each unit of work. 


History Curriculum

Teaching the History Curriculum

Each narrative of history that we consider is a construct, built on the interpretations of others and the consideration of a range of evidence and sources. With this in mind and with the goal of empowering students, teachers frame lessons with a question that is posed to students and teachers help students develop the tools and knowledge so that they themselves can assess and evaluate evidence so that they can construct their own understanding of the past. 


This is achieved through explicit instruction - ensuring students are confident in the contextual knowledge, substantive concepts and disciplinary knowledge needed to conduct their own enquiries into the past and into historical issues. Students are taught how to develop historical reasoning through metacognitive strategies, such as teaching students how to plan effectively for the development of an argument, both oral and written, so that they select the appropriate, detailed and relevant evidence to support their thinking, and such as teaching students how to effectively reflect on their own and others’ work so that they can self-assess and more effectively improve their reasoning skills. 


Students with SEND are supported in this too, through strategies such as teaching students to think about thinking, strong modelling with the use of ‘I do - We do - You do’ and where appropriate, through differentiated resources so that all students feel success in their history learning and are able to thrive in the classroom. 


The significantly able student population are also supported and challenged through the use of AIM tasks that encourage students to approach a task from a different perspective, to apply alternative evaluative approaches and to think hard about how they are applying their knowledge and understanding in different contexts. 

Assessing the History Curriculum

In lessons, all students are formatively assessed through the use of ‘Do Now’ tasks that are recall-based, assessing students fingertip and residual knowledge and ensuring that students have a strong foundation of generative knowledge on which to build on in that lesson. In addition students are continually assessed through strong questioning, live marking and whole-class AFL. 


Students at key stage 3 are formally assessed at the end of each topic. These summative assessments are designed to assess students substantive and disciplinary knowledge with students answering a question or questions that require them to apply these skills simultaneously. Each topic is focussed on a specific disciplinary skill (such as significance), and lessons within that sequence are designed to develop students knowledge of this skill in tandem with the the development of their substantive knowledge. As students will revisit each disciplinary concept at least once a year, there is opportunity to see how students disciplinary knowledge evolves across key stage three, and because they reencounter key substantive concepts, there is opportunity to assess how their substantive knowledge and understanding has deepened as they progress through Year 7 to Year 9. Students receive termly feedback, either on an individualised or whole-class basis and will complete RAR tasks which give students the opportunity to critically reflect on their learning. 


Students at key stage 4 are regularly assessed in how they apply their substantive and disciplinary knowledge to GCSE questions, both in lessons and formally, at the end of each unit in an exam-style paper. Lessons are designed to explicitly consider specific substantive content and a relevant disciplinary skill. At this level, students are expected to use substantive knowledge alongside a range of disciplinary skills, so there is a more blended approach to develop students disciplinary knowledge at this level. Students receive feedback at least twice termly, through a mix of individualised and whole-class feedback, and complete RAR tasks in lessons that are designed to help students more actively reflect on their learning and knowledge. 


Students at key stage 5 are regularly assessed in how they apply their substantive and disciplinary knowledge in answer to essay questions, considering key historical issues, requiring them to analyse the utility of sources in their historical context, and in asking them to assess how convincing historical interpretations are. Students progression in the development of this knowledge is formally assessed in an essay question at least once a half term, and students are given feedback at least fortnightly (e.g. on a section of writing, essay plan or essay) to support their progression.

Progression in the History Curriculum

By the end of key stage 3, students in History will have a strong understanding of the development of British History since c. 1000 AD and will be able to articulate how the country has evolved, socially, politically and economically. In addition they will have explored the role that Britain has played internationally, in the context of empire and colonisation, of major world events and in comparison to other societies in the world. They should have a strong appreciation for the diversity of Britain and the factors that have shaped the society we live in today. They will have a secure understanding of how to analyse sources and interpretations, how to consider and evaluate change and continuity, significance, and cause and consequence. 


By the end of key stage 4, students will have further developed this substantive and disciplinary knowledge, and will be able to apply their knowledge with greater depth of understanding and criticality. They will reencounter substantive concepts such as dictatorship, monarchy and migration, deepening their understanding of these ideas through application to new historical contexts. They will further develop their understanding of disciplinary knowledge e.g. through their study of ‘Migrants to Britain’, students will assess the causes and consequences of migration and consider how experiences of migrants changed over time. 


By the end of key stage 5, students will have developed high levels of criticality in their approach to evidence, sources and interpretations. They will be able to independently formulate a well-organised and reasoned argument in response to a historical issue. They will once again encounter substantive concepts such as democracy, power and revolution, considering the meaning of these concepts in new historical contexts and in greater depth of detail. For example, the fine-tuning of their substantive and disciplinary knowledge, as well as their independence of thought and reasoning, is evidenced in the non-examined assessment, where they consider sources and interpretations before formulating their own argument in response to a question considering Russia, 1855-1953.