Why are we teaching a knowledge-rich curriculum; how is it different?
Our history curriculum is designed so that pupils can understand the story of Britain and how key world events fit into our island’s story. The knowledge rich curriculum uses a mainly chronological approach which gives pupils a framework to develop a rich understanding of the key events of the past and explain how they are connected. A key aim of this curriculum is to help pupils come to appreciate the complexity of the past. For example, pupils will be able to understand that historical events have multiple and complex causes and consequences. This knowledge of the past will enable pupils to engage in contemporary world events with a deeper understanding of their historical context.
Why are we teaching this content?
There are two main considerations that help us choose what we teach: 1) content that will help pupils come to understand the discipline of history so they can eventually think independently about the past and 2) content that will help pupils develop cultural literacy so they can understand common reference points in our popular culture. To explain this second consideration further, we teach our curriculum because the events/people covered have cultural significance, which will enable pupils to engage in the wider world. These areas include an awareness of democracy, power of the church and the causes and impact of conflict. Together these two considerations will help pupils gain awareness of British culture(s) and their place within this culture. For example, we have chosen to study Henry VIII in Year 8, due to the impact commonly attributed to him in shaping Britain; but we use the study of Henry VIII to help pupils think critically about causal questions. Pupils can choose to study Henry VIII's reign in more detail by taking history at GCSE syllabus.
Why are we teaching it in this order?
Our curriculum is mainly delivered in chronological order. Chronology in the past has always been an area that pupils have found challenging, so by being explicit with this and teaching the story ‘in order’ we can support pupil’s understanding. Units that overlap chronologically are carefully considered as to how and when they’re delivered, thereby making sense to pupils. For example, the Industrial Revolution, American and French Revolutions and slavery topics are discrete but overlap, so we give pupils the ‘big picture’ and zoom in and out to remind them of how these events link together.
What do pupils need to remember and be able to do in this subject?
Pupils need to be able to place key historical events and people in a chronological sequence and have an understanding of the causes and consequences of these. As pupils progress through the curriculum, they will be able to analyse and evaluate these events. Fundamentally we want pupils to remember and understand the story of Britain and how key world events fit into ‘our island’ story. Pupils will read and draw inferences from a range of historical sources.
What methods do we use to help pupils secure this knowledge in long-term memory?
Methods used are quizzing at the start of each lesson, with a mixture of more recent questions but always including questions from previous topics and previous years. We use timelines frequently, so that pupils can place events in a sequential order and reflect on how events they have previously learnt connect to the ones they are currently learning.
What methods do we use to help pupils secure this knowledge in long-term memory and apply it in complex tasks?
We draw comparisons and connections between current and previous units so that pupils can find historical themes that run throughout. These connections enable them to produce extended writing which analyses a range of historical concepts such as cause and consequence, change and continuity and similarity and difference.