History at Alkrington aims to inspire curiosity in children about the past. Our curriculum teaches children the historical knowledge and transferrable skills to become analytical thinkers, tolerant individuals and confident communicators who understand people, events and contexts from a range of historical periods. Our teaching is in line with the national curriculum, which aims to ensure that all pupils gain an understanding of British history and a knowledge of the wider world; can understand a range of historical terms and concepts; and can make connections between different peoples and cultures. We also want to ensure that our children practise historical skills to ensure that in the era of “fake news”, children can use evidence to discern what is factually accurate and are confident at presenting their values and opinions in styles appropriate to a range of audiences. The ability to think, reflect, discuss and evaluate the past formulating questions and lines of enquiry paired with supporting, evaluating and challenging other views using accurate evidence from a range of sources is hugely encouraged.
In EYFS, children begin to develop an understanding of the difference between the present and the past. In KS1, children deepen their awareness of the past, learning about a key historical event and significant people throughout history. In KS2, while studying the lives of a variety of eras, each year group will be making connections with prior learning. There are three elements that make up our History curriculum:
- Threshold Concepts
Our history curriculum has been designed in way to ensure the children throughout the school practise many different skills to become historians based on threshold concepts. Threshold concepts are the ‘big ideas’ that shape students’ thinking within the subject. The same threshold concepts will be explored in every year group and students will gradually increase their understanding of them. Instead of meeting ‘objectives’ we advocate exploring concepts. An important principle is that exploring concepts is never complete. These concepts cannot be taught in isolation so the concept is explored within a breadth of different contexts (topics) so that it has tangibility and meaning. The concepts are broken down into key indicators which teachers then use to help formulate a Learning Intention appropriate for that lesson.
- Breadth of Contexts
Breadth provides the contexts for exploring the threshold concepts. It has two roles:
- Knowledge. Concepts need knowledge to make sense. Contexts give students subject specific knowledge with which to think about the concepts. For example, students will use the context of the Great Fire of London to explore the concept ‘evidence tells us about the past.’ They will be shown extracts of Samuel Pepys diary and will explore how an historical account gives us the knowledge of the cause and spread of the fire. The more knowledge students have, the better their understanding of the concepts becomes. Another benefit of knowledge is that it helps with cultural capital. A student with greater knowledge of the world, will infer more from a text than a student with little knowledge.
- Transference Whilst it is only possible to explore a concept within a context, this also causes a problem for students: their understanding is context bound. By providing a breadth of contexts students begin to transfer the concepts. They do this by comparing the new context knowledge to previously learned knowledge. For example, if students explore the concept ‘evidence tells us about the past’ through the context of The Great Fire of London, they learn that a vital piece of evidence is that Samuel Pepys kept a diary. They then later explore the same concept in the context of The Ancient Egyptians, in which they learn that the Rosetta Stone gives us evidence of the meaning of hieroglyphics.
- Milestones for Progress
Because the threshold concepts are repeated in each year group it is important that students progress in their understanding of them. Our History curriculum sets out this progression in the form of three ‘Milestones.’ Each milestone contains a range of descriptors which give more detail to be discovered within the concept. Over a two-year period, students will become more and more familiar with these details by exploring them in a breadth of concepts. These descriptors are not exhaustive and are only a guide for teachers. They should not be ‘ticked off’ as each one is covered: they should be repeated in as many different contexts as possible.
There are 4 key historical concepts which are as follows:
- Investigation and Interpretation of the Past: The children will use a variety of sources and evidence exploring: cause and consequence; historical significance; historical interpretations; differences in accounts.
- Building an Overview of History: The children will investigate similarities and differences between different civilisations as well as the reasons for change and continuity.
- Chronological Understanding: This is where the children will construct the idea of timelines using key dates.
- Communicating Historically: Children are exposed to historical language (substantive knowledge - concepts which form the underpinning structure of this subject) which is revisited regularly to ensure that children retain an understanding of key historical terms.
After exploring each context, children are given an assessment sheet to demonstrate their understanding of the concepts and the period of time studied.
Our history curriculum helps pupils gain knowledge and understanding of Britain’s past and that of the wider world through stimulating an interest in exploring the lives of people and helping children cultivate their sense of identity. We are confident that history lessons at Alkrington deliver the knowledge to enable children to function as well-informed individuals who can engage with different aspects of society and in the modern world. Our children are equipped to thrive in the next stage of their history education at secondary school and beyond.
For each of the threshold concepts three milestones, each containing the knowledge the children need to understand the threshold concepts, provides a progression model. The detail included in these plans can be seen by clicking on the milestone links below: