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History Curriculum Rationale

At Hillcrest Primary we are historians! We want our children to love history. We want them to have no limits to what their ambitions are and grow up wanting to be cartographers, town planners, conservationists or weather forecasters. We want them to embody our core values. We all believe that Hillcrest is a place where: “Children learn and discover together to create a better world”. The history curriculum has been carefully crafted so that our children develop their history capital. We want our children to remember their history lessons in our school, to cherish these memories and embrace the historic opportunities they are presented with! Recently, our pupils received a visit from two architects from The Royal Institute of British Architects. They worked with the children in order to give them a greater understanding of local architecture and how it has changed over different eras.


Bringing history alive is important at Hillcrest Primary School. 


Curriculum Intent

The history curriculum promotes curiosity and a love and thirst for learning. It is ambitious and empowers our children to become independent and resilient – like all curriculum areas. We promote the use of a knowledge-rich curriculum to serve the key principles of cognitive science. Evidence informed research has shown that knowledge is essential to the development of reading comprehension and critical thinking. Research has also shown that those who are rich in knowledge gain new knowledge quicker and more effectively. We therefore place the acquisition of knowledge at the heart of the learning process.


We want to equip them with not only the minimum statutory requirements of the history National Curriculum but to prepare them for the opportunities, responsibilities and experiences of later life. For example our children visited The Matthew, a modern reconstruction of the original Matthew that John Cabot sailed to Newfoundland in 1497. They sailed around Bristol's Historic Harbour, learnt about life on board in Tudor times, how sailors sailed the ship then, and how it is done today. They gained an understanding of how and why sailors navigated across unknown and treacherous seas to undiscovered lands and compared this with travel today.


Our aim for is for all children to access challenging curriculum content that covers a range of subject-specific concepts. We seek to achieve this through the use of high-quality curriculum materials and knowledge organisers, that lay out specific, detailed, coherent knowledge and pedagogical practices that seek to ensure the knowledge is not merely encountered but fixed in the long-term memory.


The KS1 curriculum has been designed to introduce pupils to key subjects-specific concepts and vocabulary in order to prepare them for KS2. The KS2 curriculum is based on the only safe assumption that a teacher can make: that a pupil might go on to study the subject at university, require particular subject knowledge in their future career, or need particular subject knowledge or skills to enable them to be active members of society.


We want our children to use the vibrancy of our great city to learn from other cultures, respect diversity, co-operate with one another and appreciate what they have. We achieve this by providing a strong SMSC curriculum, with British Values and our core values placed at the heart of everything we do. This often feeds into the history curriculum. For example, our pupils work with Knowle and Totterdown Historical Society on the annual ‘Three Streets Project’. They bring to life past events, places and people stretching back over 150 years. Our pupils have designed and made shop signs advertising past traders and blue plaques detailing the first occupants dating back to the 1860s. The area becomes a temporary open-air museum.


We enrich their time in our school with memorable, unforgettable experiences and provide opportunities which are normally out of reach – this piques their interests and passions. 


Curriculum Implementation

The history curriculum has been carefully built and the learning opportunities for each year group crafted to ensure progression and repetition in terms of embedding key learning, knowledge and skills. We believe that our pupils need to be actively involved in making sense of their learning and therefore an enquiry approach has been implemented, encouraging higher-order thinking and allowing our children to explore in a way that is meaningful to them. Within each year group, history strands are revisited in a progressive manner. Every year group focusses on a local history study, using our great city as a stimulus! Year 1 explore the famous Bristol skyline, Year 2 go aboard the SS Great Britain and Year 3 look at the history of Bristol as a city of culture. Year 4 travel back in time to WW2 to see how it impacted on the Bristol, Year 5 go on a and Year 6 look at slave trade in the city. Bristol has such a rich history and we want our children to understand and appreciate this.


History subject specific characteristics, which we expect the children to demonstrate, underpin all work in geography and provide a common subject specific vocabulary for staff and pupils.


Our short-term plans are produced on a weekly and daily basis. We use these to set out the learning objectives for each lesson, identifying engaging activities and resources which will be used to achieve them.

We encourage staff to teach history (geography and science) through an enquiry question, for instance in Year 6 ‘What’s underneath our feet?’ The knowledge linked to each enquiry has been deliberately chosen to be connected, cumulative and coherent. This helps to ensure sufficient time is allocated to history and that historical subject matter can be revisited frequently. Our teachers link prior knowledge to new learning in order to deepen understanding. For example when Year 6 children study WW2 and what life was like for people living through the war, they also tackle socialism and capitalism in their SMSC lessons, explore propaganda posters in Art and use texts like ‘Hitler’s Canary’ by Sandi Toksvig in English. Our children are taught the right, connected knowledge.


We believe that by crafting our curriculum this way, we improve the potential for our children to retain what they have been taught, to alter their long-term memory and thus improve the rates of progress they make.


Curriculum Impact

We use both formative and summative assessment information in order to inform our short-term planning. Our low stakes quizzes are efficient, effective and motivating for the pupils, whilst providing teachers with vital information about what the pupils have misunderstood or are struggling to remember. These questions can easily be recycled, utilising the spacing effect to ensure content is retained for the long term instead of being forgotten soon after the lesson. This helps us provide the best possible support for all of our pupils, including the more able. The assessment milestones for each phase have been carefully mapped out and further broken down for each year group. This means that skills in history are progressive and build year on year. 


Assessment information is collected frequently and analysed as part of our monitoring cycle. This process provides an accurate and comprehensive understanding of the quality of education in history. A comprehensive monitoring cycle is developed at the beginning of each academic year. This identifies when monitoring is undertaken. Monitoring in geography includes: pupil book, lesson observations and/or learning walks, pupil/parent and/or staff voice.


All of this information is gathered and reviewed. It is used to inform further curriculum developments and provision is adapted accordingly.

At Hillcrest Primary School, we are Historians!