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“We are not makers of history. We are made by history.”

Martin Luther King Jr.

Willow Tree’s History curriculum has been designed to inspire a strong curiosity about the past in all of our learners. We believe that children should know what history is and ought to recognise the value of studying it, and so we aim for our pupils to gain a secure understanding of the past and how it relates to the present. 

We believe that History should be enjoyable, engaging and reflective of the diversity of the past in our local area, Britain and the wider world. We want our pupils to learn from historians and become historians themselves. Our curriculum will help them to build upon their historical knowledge and skills, so that over time they can deepen their observations of the past and be able to both ask and answer historically valid questions. 

The History curriculum will also encourage our learners to become critical thinkers. We want our pupils to be able to use and apply what they have learnt when interpreting historical sources and to understand that there are different perspectives of the past. 

Finally, we aim for our children to leave primary school with a clear mental timeline of the periods that they have studied in both Britain and the wider world. 

Historical learning happens throughout our school, from Nursery to Year 6. 

Early Years Foundation Stage

In Nursery and Reception, the children do not study specific History topics; instead, teachers lay the foundations for future historical learning. Our EYFS curriculum achieves this by building in opportunities for the pupils to:

  • learn about their own life story
  • learn about the history of their families
  • compare and contrast characters from stories that include figures from the past
  • discuss images of familiar situations from the past and compare them to the present day

Key Stages One and Two

From Years 1 to 6, History is taught on a half-termly basis for at least one hour per week. 

At Willow Tree, we use an enquiry-based approach to historical learning, which focuses on developing children’s historical knowledge and skills through their investigation of open-ended questions. For each new topic, our pupils are presented with a big question that they will work to answer over a series of lessons; as new knowledge is gained throughout the topic, the children are continuously encouraged to revisit and review this question. 

Our History curriculum has been sequenced so that children are able to build upon the skills and knowledge that they have gained in previous years, and make clear links and comparisons between the different civilisations, periods, places and people that they have studied. Teachers help their pupils to achieve this by constantly referring back to the key learning completed in past lessons and year groups. 

During History lessons, children are encouraged to talk frequently about how the information they have learnt helps them to answer the key questions that they are investigating. Talk is also used by teachers to assess historical understanding both during and after lessons. 

Key historical terms have been mapped out into threads and are taught throughout key stages one and two, becoming more complex over time. The threads that we have decided to focus on in our school are: 

  • civilisation
  • power
  • trade
  • migration
  • legacy 

History at Willow Tree is designed to meet the needs of all pupils. Whilst every child in the class is expected to explore the same key questions throughout a topic, lesson tasks will be differentiated appropriately so that all learners are given the opportunity to demonstrate their historical knowledge, skills and understanding in a way that best suits their educational needs and learning style. 

To bring History alive, our pupils will visit relevant sites in the local area and will have the chance to participate in memorable experiences that enhance their learning. 

Due to the delivery of a high-quality History curriculum, our children will: 

  • enjoy and feel excited about learning History.
  •  be able to confidently discuss their knowledge and understanding of the past, and apply it when answering and investigating key historical questions.
  •  be able to compare and contrast different time periods.
  •  have a secure mental timeline of the historical periods that they have studied in primary school.
  •  understand how past events and people have affected the lives of themselves and others in the present day.
  •  appreciate the importance of History.
  •  be motivated to learn more about the past outside of the classroom.
“The more you know about the past, the better prepared you are for the future.”

Theodore Roosevelt

“The supreme purpose of history is a better world.”

Herbert Hoover

History Subject Content - Key Stage 1

Pupils should develop an awareness of the past, using common words and phrases relating to the passing of time. They should know where the people and events they study fit within a chronological framework and identify similarities and differences between ways of life in different periods. They should use a wide vocabulary of everyday historical terms. They should ask and answer questions, choosing and using parts of stories and other sources to show that they know and understand key features of events. They should understand some of the ways in which we find out about the past and identify different ways in which it is represented.

In planning to ensure the progression described above through teaching about the people, events and changes outlined below, teachers are often introducing pupils to historical periods that they will study more fully at key stages 2 and 3.

Pupils should be taught about:

  • changes within living memory. Where appropriate, these should be used to reveal aspects of change in national life
  • events beyond living memory that are significant nationally or globally [for example, the Great Fire of London, the first aeroplane flight or events commemorated through festivals or anniversaries]
  • the lives of significant individuals in the past who have contributed to national and international achievements. Some should be used to compare aspects of life in different periods [for example, Elizabeth I and Queen Victoria, Christopher Columbus and Neil Armstrong, William Caxton and Tim Berners-Lee, Pieter Bruegel the Elder and LS Lowry, Rosa Parks and Emily Davison, Mary Seacole and/or Florence Nightingale and Edith Cavell]
  • significant historical events, people and places in their own locality.

History Subject Content - Key Stage 2

Pupils should continue to develop a chronologically secure knowledge and understanding of British, local and world history, establishing clear narratives within and across the periods they study. They should note connections, contrasts and trends over time and develop the appropriate use of historical terms.

They should regularly address and sometimes devise historically valid questions about change, cause, similarity and difference, and significance. They should construct informed responses that involve thoughtful selection and organisation of relevant historical information. They should understand how our knowledge of the past is constructed from a range of sources.

In planning to ensure the progression described above through teaching the British, local and world history outlined below, teachers should combine overview and depth studies to help pupils understand both the long arc of development and the complexity of specific aspects of the content.

For more information please download the Key Stage 2 Programme of Study.