Our aim is to build inquisitive historians, through an enquiry based curriculum, who form educated opinions and ask further questions around their chronological knowledge. The children should know their place in history and recognise how history impacts on modern day life.
History and geography are taught using a bespoke enquiry based curriculum. In doing so, children are taught to distinguish between history and geography through the skills each require and the knowledge that each draw upon but also recognise that the two are very closely linked. It builds on children’s skills and knowledge as they move through the school. An over-arching, challenge question links subjects cohesively giving meaning and purpose to children’s learning. This ‘prime’ question then leads to smaller, subsidiary objectives where the curriculum aims are met whilst making cross curricular links. It is important that the children achieve each objective in order to give the children thorough knowledge to answer the overall question in detail. At the end of each unit, the children are given the chance to answer the overall question by presenting their findings in a variety of different ways including double page spreads, PowerPoint presentations and group presentations.
Continuity and progression are built around the objectives, skills and knowledge laid out in the new curriculum within the different subject areas. This allows us as a school to have greater autonomy over what to teach and how to teach the subjects, whilst ensuring that the essential skills expected of each year group are still being covered. As a staff, we have recently reshuffled our topics to further ensure chronology and complete coverage. The subject knowledge needed by staff is laid out on Knowledge Organisers which link place geography, historical chronology, cross curricular links and key figures to a topic. This gives staff a starting point when planning while highlighting areas of interest to teach. As the challenges devised are wide ranging and deliberately chosen to promote deep thinking, this gives school the scope to use the cross curricular links and teach other subjects (art, DT, music etc) within the smaller ‘bite-size’ objectives.
It is an expectation that teachers apply english, mathematics and ICT skills where it is appropriate to do so. For example, in Year 4, when covering the history topic of ‘How has Greece’s past influenced modern day life?’, children used their ICT skills to research relevant information in order to produce an information text using transitions and animations to make the presentation interesting for the viewer. High expectations of written work are an expectation across all subjects; pieces of writing assessment are also produced through strong and creative links to the wider curriculum. Examples of this include non-chronological reports on periods of time, writing in historical character and historical diary entries whilst being in keeping of the time. However, regarding a geographical and historical objective, children’s English and maths abilities shouldn’t have an impact on their achievement of the geography or history within a lesson/topic or teacher assessment of geography and history objectives.
We ensure that pupils enjoy their work by making the work accessible to all children, by making learning real through research and the use of websites, sources on the internet and through the extensive school library. Independent research, analysing findings, as a group or pair, discussion and presentations of work or findings are an integral part of this curriculum area. Displays are often seen as ‘a work in progress’ where children are encouraged to add their own questions or interact with the questions asked by teachers or other children. Furthermore, displays should also celebrate the children’s achievements within the Humanities, possibly showing photographs of the children at work and individual pieces of work.
The subject is taught for between 1 and 2 hours weekly, which allow the curriculum to encompass the various other subjects that are appropriate to the subsidiary questions.
The needs of SEND children are met through various means including the use of vocabulary prompts, templates to aid presentation, the support of teaching assistants or mixed ability pairings as appropriate.
Teachers monitor progress continually and adjust their teaching accordingly. Much of the learning covered in these subjects is kept hands-on, kinaesthetic and cross-curricular, providing practical learning so that skills can become embedded and so ensure concrete understanding. Assessment through questioning and verbal discussion is an area that the school is working hard to promote and enhance. For example, the Year 5 teacher recreated an Anglo-Saxon settlement using natural materials to replicate the building process and thinking behind housing years ago. This brought an unrealistic experience into the classroom in a ‘hands on’ way to engage the children in the topic. Furthermore experiences in the classroom, when learning about the Stone/Iron/Bronze Age, brought about class discussion with one child going on to visit Stonehenge with their family!
To augment this on-going diagnostic assessment, both history and geography have discrete skills outlined in the new curriculum and teachers assess children’s skills and knowledge at termly intervals against the steps in our tracking system. This will also be accompanied by topic specific skills ‘Quizlets in order to break down the ongoing assessment process and place geography assessments to ensure place geography is being embedded. These documents are completed at the beginning of a unit to gauge a child’s base knowledge of a particular topic. These initial ‘Quizlets’ are also used to inform planning and allow staff to plan for challenge for high ability children. At the end of a topic, children will then take the same ‘Quizlet’ which will show the embedding of knowledge and progress that they have made throughout a unit. This allows class teachers to make an informed judgement when assessing children on Insight, in accordance with the standard shown in the children’s books and content of ‘Quizlets’.
These assessments are then stored on Insight on a termly basis, with the senior leadership tram and shared with the subject leaders. In this way, I have a clear picture of children’s progress and achievement in humanities right across the school. In Foundation stage, learning is initiated from the child’s own knowledge and assessment of children’s knowledge is measured through the steps made in the EYFS profile and is evidenced in the children’s learning journals.
Observations of pieces of children’s work relating to challenge questions and questioning regarding the humanities have shown me that they are extremely engaged and enthused by their learning in this subject. Teachers work hard to choose challenge questions and activities that will capture the children’s imaginations. Planning is of a high standard overall, and shows clearly how staff structure their lessons in order to meet curriculum objectives and outcomes, with good use of a range of resources and techniques. The nature of the challenge questions allows teachers to vary teaching techniques and embrace different subjects whilst maintaining a clear plan for progression through the discrete objectives laid out in the new curriculum. With regards to history, to begin their topic, Year 4 visited the DEWA Roman Experience in Chester where they were immersed in aspects of Roman life and walked the city walls. The plan is for this annual visit to continue as it provides an immersive experience that can’t be offered in the immediate locality. Recently, Year 1, 3 and 5 were visited by Yellow Brick Road Workshops where the children were immersed in different periods of time relating to their learning. The children thoroughly enjoyed this and we plan to use their services again in the future. Displays are often presented as an ongoing learning resource – where findings and questions can be added as the subject progresses. This allows teachers to constantly monitor the progression of the children as they move through the subject. In addition to this, children from different year groups valued the sense of the pride at seeing their work on the walls, relating to both history and geography. For example, Year 4 display their current topic on one of the larger walls while Year 6 display their geographical and historical knowledge on an ever-changing working wall. The Year 4 wall acts as a resource to recap what has been learnt in the topic as well as a celebration of the children’s work. Similarly, other classes display the achievements of their children within a topic in their classrooms.
The attitudes towards geography were equally positive. “I’m looking forward to learning about Greece because my family is from Greece!” said a Year 3 girl. A Year 4 child enjoyed showing what she’s learnt through a double page spread on the Romans. She showed her work to the headteacher and was proud of the time and effort that went into the work. It was presented beautifully and displayed key information linking to the overall question of the topic. All children reported enjoying the cross-curricular nature of the lessons and working practically with others. Work sampling ensures that the skills and knowledge are being taught effectively.
Work sampling continues to take place over the course of the year and this enables me to work with teachers to monitor the standard of the children’s work overall, as well as review how well the cross curricular nature of the teaching curriculum has embedded across the school. A recent development within book scrutinies has been to speak to children with their books about their learning. This allows children to gain confidence in speaking about their learning and allows staff a gauge of how well children have retained information outside of what books show.
Foundation stage achievement and progress is monitored through relevant age range steps laid out in the EYFS profile. These small learning steps lead to the Early Learning Goals.
What else have children said?
“I know the difference between geography and history. Geography is where you learn about places and history is when you learn about the past!” – Year 1 child.
“My favourite topic is the Egyptians because they’re so different to us now! – Year 3 child.
“You learn about history so you don’t make the same mistakes as in the past!” – Year 6
Current standards and progress
As both geography and history both have discrete skills and specific pieces of knowledge that have to be taught over the year, teachers compare children’s progress to progression grids of skills and then make an overall judgement on Insight. Decisions are made as to whether children are working towards, at a lower expected, upper expected of greater depth level for the year group. These decisions are informed using the key skills documents, Quizlets, place knowledge assessments that link to key skills taken from both the geography and history curriculums.
As the year has progressed, work samples and the general results of these assessments have enabled me, as subject leader, a clear picture as to whether various children or cohorts are working above, below or expected levels in history and geography.
Standards for history are included in the subject leader file along with those for geography too.
Where to now? Recent developments, highlights and priorities for future developments
Following previous culture weeks and to celebrate the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee, the children were able to delve deeper into our country’s history through a culture day. Each class took a decade from the 1950s onwards and presented that decade’s history in assembly including information about film, music, sport, politics, etc.
The achievements of the children were celebrated through SeeSaw, Twitter and a celebration assembly to showcase the children’s work. Mr Taylor’s geography assemblies continued after covid and this time focussed on capital cities.
To gauge attainment within history and find areas to develop our practice, Mr Taylor began an application for the Primary History Quality Mark led by the History Association. This is close to completion and is due to be finished early in the academic year 2022-23. This has been lengthy process where a full evaluation of the subject has been undertaken leading to tweaks in the rationale of the curriculum to ensure chronology between topics through Key Stage 2 and that skills are progressive through the year groups. We are looking to purchase planning guides from ‘Mr T’ to support teachers in the delivery of potentially new content to broaden their pedagogical skills and subject knowledge before teaching a topic.
Priorities for future development: