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Russell Lower School

History

Our subject lead for history is Mrs B Cox. 
The aims for our history curriculum taken from the National Curriculum
The national curriculum for history aims to ensure that all pupils:
  • know and understand the history of these islands as a coherent, chronological narrative, from the earliest times to the present day: how people’s lives have shaped this nation and how Britain has influenced and been influenced by the wider world
  • know and understand significant aspects of the history of the wider world: the nature of ancient civilisations; the expansion and dissolution of empires; characteristic features of past non-European societies; achievements and follies of mankind
  • gain and deploy a historically grounded understanding of abstract terms such as ‘empire’, ‘civilisation’, ‘parliament’ and ‘peasantry’
  • understand historical concepts such as continuity and change, cause and consequence, similarity, difference and significance, and use them to make connections, draw contrasts, analyse trends, frame historically-valid questions and create their own structured accounts, including written narratives and analyses
  • understand the methods of historical enquiry, including how evidence is used rigorously to make historical claims, and discern how and why contrasting arguments and interpretations of the past have been constructed History – key stages 1 and 2 2
  • gain historical perspective by placing their growing knowledge into different contexts, understanding the connections between local, regional, national and international history; between cultural, economic, military, political, religious and social history; and between short- and long-term timescales.
Intent

Our history curriculum challenges and inspires children’s curiosity about events of their own families’ past, Britain’s past and that of the wider world.  It is carefully planned and structured through our History Milestone Documents to ensure that current learning is progressive and builds on previous knowledge and skills.  

At Russell, we aim to develop the minds of every child by ensuring they know more, remember more and understand more about the past and the affect it has on their lives today.  For example, a year one child will be building on from ‘talking about past and present events in their own live and the lives of family members’ (ELG – Understanding the World) to what comes next by ‘discussing events within and beyond living memory that are significant nationally and globally’ (Y2 History Milestones).

It is our intention to offer a broad, balanced and progressive curriculum for every child from the Early Years to Year 4 through the use of Development Matters and the Statutory frameworks for the EYFS and the Early Learning Goals in Early Years (Understanding the World) and then progressing onto the National Curriculum aims for years 1 to 4. Our History curriculum offers pupils the opportunity to learn new knowledge and skills in all years through a range of Quality First Teaching, visitors within school, trips and visits, primary sources and artefacts, teaching through stories, film and virtual museum tours and local walks.

Russell Lower School endeavours to provide enjoyable learning experiences, enrichment opportunities and an environment that will enable children to question and challenge historical events. With Ampthill’s Georgian history, links to King Henry Vlll and Catherine of Aragon, our curriculum makes use of resources within the immediate local area, enabling children to develop a deep understanding of the rich history of their locality.  

Our desire is to also develop children’s cultural capital through trips and visits to historical sites. For example, in the spring term our Year 3 children visit Celtic Harmony as part of their Stone Age to Iron Age theme and experience Ancient Britain first-hand in the UK’s largest reconstructed prehistory settlement. One of our children said ‘The trip was so interesting. It helped me understand how important animal skin, wood, stone and bones were to the people living in the Stone Age.’

We also aim to develop SMSC through our history curriculum by:

  • Spiritual: allowing pupils to see the similarities between people now and in the past and bringing them alive through primary and secondary sources, artefacts and visitors. For example, in the Autumn term in Year 3, visitors from ‘History Workshops’ deliver an Anglo-Saxon workshop where pupils are given the opportunity to play Anglo-Saxon games, practice battle formations and investigate artefacts.
  • Moral: helping children to empathise with the decisions which ordinary people made at the time based on their historical situation for example in year 2, the story of ‘Vlad and the Great Fire of London’ brings to life the challenges of living through 1665 and 1666 during the Great Plague and the Great Fire of London .
  • Social: encouraging pupils to think about what past societies have contributed to our culture today. For example, the study of World War I in year 4, allows pupils to explore the changes to women’s working roles in areas that were formerly reserved for men.
  • Cultural: examining how other cultures have had a major impact on the development of ‘British’ culture. For example, the study of the Roman Empire and its impact on Britain.

At Russell, we also aim to promote British values through History by looking at the achievements of famous British people (Amelia Earhart, Famous Queens, Florence Nightingale and George Stevenson) where children develop an awareness of how they influenced and shaped the country in which we live. We teach children to respect and value different viewpoints and ideas as well as encouraging them to work effectively, both individually and as part of a team.

Implementation

Our History curriculum has been carefully designed to focus on curriculum sequencing to ensure skill progression from lesson to lesson and year to year with a focus on deepening and embedding key learning, knowledge and skills. Year group milestone documents have been created in order to support planning and assessment within the subject. Year teams have produced Medium Term Plans to show clear sequencing and progression. They highlight the key knowledge that the children will know and be able to use by the end of each History lesson. 

 

We have developed year group and subject specific curriculum plans which identify when the different subjects and topics will be taught across the academic year. The vast majority of subjects are taught discretely however staff make meaningful links across subjects through themes. For example, in year 2 where their learning around The Great Fire of London incorporates a dance unit of work for the Spring term.

 

Within History we focus our teaching on the subject content outlined within the new statutory framework for the EYFS and the National Curriculum; ELG: Past and Present, NC: changes within living memory, NC: events beyond living memory, NC: lives of significant individuals and NC: significant historical events. 

These areas of learning are revisited year on year where pupils progressively build their skills and knowledge and can link prior skills and knowledge to new learning to deepen their understanding. For example, 

Early Years – children begin by learning about the lives of the people around them and their roles in society through their own experiences and the stories that are read to them

Key Stage 1 – children develop their skills in historical enquiry by asking questions and finding out about the past by selecting information from different types of given sources 

Key Stage 2 – children independently choose appropriate sources to answer their own historical questions and understand how their knowledge of the past is constructed from a range of sources

 

Our history units of work interlink across different years and key stages in order to deepen and embed children’s knowledge, for example in Year 3, children learn how vital and important tools, weaponry and animals were for survival during the Stone Age. They then build on this knowledge and understanding in Year 4 when exploring (through a range of sources) different tools and weapons used during WW1 as well as the important roles animals played in British life at this time. 

 

Our units of work also progressively build skills, for example children in every year group will experience the skill of placing events or objects in chronological order. In Year 1, this will be in the form of a simple visual or kinaesthetic timelines with events crossing over shorter periods of time in British history. As children progress their skills across key stages, we will see that by Year 4, their understanding of chronology is secure within British, local and also World history.

 

As a school, we have worked hard to adapt many themes by implementing Mary Myatt’s strategies, Rosenshine’s 17 Principles of Effective Instruction and use of the Great Teaching Toolkit. 

 

The following history subject specific characteristics, which we expect staff to implement and pupils to demonstrate, have been shared, audited and are now demonstrated across other year groups and themes:  

 

  • The use of timelines to develop chronological knowledge and understanding e.g. using practical, hands on methods where possible

  • Incorporating key vocabulary (from milestones) and ambitious stories into lynx files and displays

  • The use of authentic sources (useful and beautiful) – providing opportunities for deeper thinking over task completion e.g. film, museums, real photographs, artefacts 

  • The importance of talk, discussion and role play encouraging children to use historical terms and vocabulary linked to other subjects 

  • Developing ‘fluency’ through low stake quizzes, high quality feedback and discussion of misconceptions – providing children with mastery approach and deeper understanding

During each theme, there is strong evidence (monitoring of teaching and learning, pupil voice and book scrutiny) that children are: 

 

  • Passionate about history and enthusiastically engaged in their learning

  • Developing their sense of curiosity about the past and their understanding of how and why toys have changed

  • Embracing challenging activities, including opportunities to undertake high-quality research through stories, artefacts, timelines, photographs, film and museum websites

 

Within our history lessons, prior learning from the unit and previous units is consolidated through re-cap and reinforcement to ensure children can make links between skills/knowledge and previously learnt skills/knowledge such as the use of sources to support our understanding of the past. 

 

Questioning, modelling and feedback are used to support the teaching and learning process, ensuring there is progression within every lesson and that assessment has impact.

 

All year groups are now making use of the ‘School Library Service’, incorporating artefacts and high quality resources into their day-to-day practice.   

 

Across the school, we also provide a wide array of opportunities in the form of history trips and visits, visitors and workshops across the course of the year to support history within the curriculum and to develop the children’s cultural capital. 

 

For example:

Year 1

During the Autumn term our Year 1 pupils visit the ‘House on the Hill Toy Museum’. They experience at least 80,000 toy exhibits on display from late Victorian times up to 1990’s.

 

In the Summer term our Year 1 pupils experience a ‘Seaside’s in the Past’ day. Children recreate and experience aspects of old-fashioned Victorian seaside holidays. They are encouraged to make links between the two aspects of Victorian life studied across this year group.

 

Year 2

In the Summer term our Year 2 pupils take a local history walk to visit Ampthill Great Park which has links to the studies of their significant people - King Henry Vlll and Catherine of Aragon who once resided in Ampthill Castle. The children are given the opportunity to look at old maps of the castle, discuss the significance of the monuments in the park and learn about the history of the site. 

 

Year 3 

During the Autumn term in Year 3, children are visited by historians through an Anglo-Saxon workshop which gives them a snapshot of life in this era. The children learn to play Anglo-Saxon games, practice battle formations and investigate Saxon artefacts. This workshop develops children’s historical understanding and enquiry.

 

Our Year 3 children also explore the past by visiting Celtic Harmony who provide a unique first-hand experience of changes in Britain from the Stone Age to the Iron Age and the impact of the Roman invasion on Britain in particular British resistance.

 

Year 4

The children in year 4 are visited by Portals of the Past, a group of ‘performing historians’ who are experts in their subjects. The children experience immersive and inspiring history workshops related to their Roman and WW1 topics.  

During the Spring term our children visit the Verulamium Museum which is built on the site of one of the largest Roman cities in Britain. They explore Roman life in recreated rooms, admire the craftsmanship of large scale mosaics and learn about Roman history through many exhibits and artefacts.

Long and medium term plans
Milestone example
Further milestone documents for all year groups are available, on request, to demonstrate our skill progression.
Impact

In order to measure the impact of our History curriculum we use a range of formative and summative assessment in all lessons such as:

  • Questioning
  • Pupil, parent, staff voice/questionnaires
  • Observations/learning walks/drop ins
  • Analysis of our assessment tool linked to milestone documents/National Curriculum for each year
  • Book and display scrutiny
  • Monitoring of teaching and learning

Assessment information is collected frequently and analysed as part of our monitoring of teaching and learning cycle. This process provides an accurate and comprehensive understanding of the quality of education in history as well as indicating areas for development.

Academic outcomes and impact:

For this year we are aware of the following outcomes for History (2022/23):

These figures remain high with all year groups attaining 85% ARE+ in history. We have also seen an increase in attainment for Year 1 and 3 (see grid below). 

 

History

% pupils working at or above in History

2021/22

2022/23

+ / -

Year 1

88%

91%

+ 3%

Year 2

94%

88%

- 6%

Year 3

80%

85%

+ 5%

Year 4

96%

90%

- 6%

 

Our EYFS data shows that 91% of pupils achieved the expected standard in Understanding the World - Past and Present. This will give them an excellent knowledge base for their KS1 history. 

 

Other outcomes and impact:

We have also undertaken monitoring of learning and teaching in History this year and the feedback given was as follows:

  • Excellent subject knowledge from the teachers seen

  • Real enthusiasm from the children for humanities – excellent knowledge

  • Good use of technology to support knowledge – e.g. Videos for Celts in History

  • Variety of ways in which children could show their knowledge (talk partners, group work, sorting cards, videos, notes)


We have worked hard to liaise with Upper Key Stage 2 leaders in order to make adaptations to our Year 3 History curriculum, ensuring that our Lower Key Stage 2 children have the knowledge and understanding needed for Middle School. Our year 3 curriculum now includes: Anglo Saxons and Scots, Stone Age to Iron Age and The Celts. 

Adaptations have also been made to our Year 2 curriculum and we have seen high quality learning through book scrutiny and many more opportunities to encourage writing through our history lessons. Outcomes are now more evenly distributed, balanced and progressive across each term.

This year we have also looked closely at the EYFS curriculum and adapted our LTPs: 

This year’s evidence shows that children are receiving high quality, dedicated lessons over the course of the week or as blocked sessions e.g. 2 sessions per week for 3 weeks. The history curriculum also plays a vital role in our whole school curriculum through areas such as; our school vision (challenge, enjoy, respect, succeed), assemblies (SMSC, British values and school values), our Russell Rights and Rules and a wide range of other subject areas.

We have history displays in many classrooms/corridors in order to support children’s vocabulary, higher order thinking skills and questioning. Children’s history work is often displayed and clear links are made to other subjects such as; Victorian toys linked to materials in Science, Cave art in Year 3, WW1 letters from the trenches in Year 4.