“The more you know about the past, the better prepared you are for the future.” Theodore Roosevelt
At Wirksworth Junior School, we believe that history should enable our pupils to understand the impact people have had on the world and the ways in which societies work. Through history, we can learn to appreciate and respect societies different in time and place from our own. We want our children to develop a coherent picture of British and World history, by developing a chronological understanding of historical periods and exploring the achievements of past civilizations.
The main focus for our history curriculum across the school is:
Discovering and Caring.
Our curriculum content has been carefully chosen to encourage our pupils to develop empathy and show caring towards the people and subjects they learn about. Pupils discover how past events affect the lives of people today, and what they can learn from history about caring for themselves and others in the future.
We hope to equip our children with the knowledge and skills they need to be able to express themselves and articulate their thoughts, feelings and ideas about history in creative ways. We encourage our pupils to be curious, and to ask questions about the lives of others and the wider world.
We aim to ensure that our history lessons include opportunities for pupils to demonstrate the following:
- Practical communication through role play, drama, hot-seating and using artefacts.
- Critical thinking.
- Taking chances to build resilience.
- Expressing opinions about other’s actions in a sensitive manner.
- Understanding other’s views.
To further enhance the curriculum, we also want our children to know and understand how the school’s core values - respect, trust, fairness, togetherness, perseverance and aspiration – have been demonstrated throughout history.
To ensure that our pupils are able to learn about significant historical periods in-depth, we have made the decision to ‘block’ the majority of our history teaching into one term per academic year. During their time at Wirksworth Junior School, our pupils will explore significant periods of British and World history, in line with the Key Stage Two National Curriculum.
The foundational knowledge we want our pupils to learn has been carefully selected and mapped out for progression across the school. We create knowledge organisers to focus our teaching, and for pupils to use as a learning tool to free up working memory; we will encourage our pupils to review, revise and quiz themselves on key historical facts that we hope they will learn and remember.
As pupils develop their knowledge, they are encouraged to use it to make meaningful links and apply their understanding of the historical periods and events they study to complex concepts such as migration, conflict, wealth and power, as well as to think in-depth about the ‘Big Philosophical Questions’ linked to each topic area:
Lower Key Stage Two
- Should we always do as we are told?
- Does slavery still exist?
Upper Key Stage Two
- Does migration always lead to conflict?
- Why have buildings and structures become a significant part of civilization?
Also, we aim to ensure that pupils recognise the importance of reading across the curriculum by linking our curriculum concepts and big questions to quality texts. Pupils and teachers are encouraged to make links through display and reference to a timeline and world map in every classroom.
Example Curriculum Overviews
We have created skills progression ladders to ensure that pupils are being taught to use and apply historical skills throughout their learning:
- Chronological understanding
- Knowledge and understanding of events, people and changes in the past
- Historical enquiry
- Historical interpretation
- Organisation and communication
Class teachers use strategies such as questioning, verbal feedback and marking of written work to assess pupils’ knowledge and skills. This assessment is used to inform their planning, lesson content and next steps.
The subject leader monitors history provision across the school to ensure that our curriculum and teaching is having a positive impact on our pupils’ enjoyment and achievement. This is done in a number of ways, such as visiting classrooms to observe the learning environment; creating a portfolio of work for moderation; and having discussions with pupils about their learning.