Preston Park Primary


‘We are not makers of history. We are made by history.’ – Martin Luther King. 

What do we want for our children?

History is a central strand of the integrated curriculum at Preston Park as it drives many of our topics. One of the main purposes of history teaching and learning is to inspire pupils' curiosity about the world they live in, both past and present.

Children at  Preston Park gain the opportunity to study key periods of British history, ancient civilisations and influential people who have shaped our lives today both in Europe and worldwide. History, geography and religious education are closely linked through our topic led approach which we feel is the best model for our children and the community we serve - topics give the children something to ‘pin’ their learning onto. Visits to historical sites and museums give children cultural capital and a point of reference going forwards with their learning in history, and also across the curriculum.

The curriculum bases great emphasis on both historical knowledge, historical skills and concepts.  On their own, neither of these are effective at embedding a knowledge and understanding of history long term, or giving children the opportunity to get better at history.

Children are taught to embody the role of a ‘historian’ and, despite the integrated curriculum, the subject of history is referred to during topic lessons that focus on the development of children’s historical skills. Children are given opportunities to develop their skills as a historian through motivating lines of enquiry where they interpret evidence and communicate their ideas. Children also gain a sense of historical perspective and the development of chronological understanding through texts studied in English which may include both literature and non-fiction works. 

The importance of chronology to secure long-term knowledge should also be noted.  This includes both sequencing periods of history as well as knowing and understanding characteristics of specific eras. Our curriculum is designed with this in mind so that eras and people of significance can be revisited at different times to ensure that children can grasp how one particular era sits with another. Planning units of learning using key historical concepts, such as change and continuity, require children to draw on earlier learning and make comparisons and contrasts. This creates children who think historically and are confident with their knowledge. To assist with chronology, each class has a visual timeline mapping the topics with historical focus taught throughout the school. These timelines are useful cross-curricular resources and are often referred to in other subjects such as music and art.   Chronology in history is so important it has been classified as both disciplinary and substantive knowledge.

 How do we deliver this effectively?

History is taught on a termly basis and is taught as a stand-alone lesson as well as implemented throughout a range of core and foundation subjects. This may include extended pieces of writing in English, ordering time in mathematics and exploring how cartography has developed over the different historical periods in geography.

At Preston Park, we follows a bespoke curriculum for all children with the addition of year 3 following the Opening Worlds scheme of learning.  Opening Worlds is ‘a knowledge-rich humanities based programme characterised by strong vertical sequencing within subjects (so that pupils gain security in a rich, broad vocabulary through systematic introduction, sustained practice and deliberate revisiting) and by intricate horizontal and diagonal connections, thus creating a curriculum whose effects are far greater than the sum of their parts.[2]

We further ensure children develop their ‘historical inquiry’ through history by allowing children to inquire into, organise and explain events that have happened in the past. This is followed by locating and analysing historical sources to establish historical evidence. The historical evidence is then used to construct historical interpretations that seek to answer the guiding historical questions. [3]

As with all subjects at Preston Park and aligned to our whole school curriculum essentials, the learning of historical terms and vocabulary is prioritised. Some of this is linked to children communicating their ideas both throughout and at the end of a topic both orally but also in writing. Correct spellings are insisted upon as well as an understanding of the vocabulary and how, in history, words may alter throughout eras and with the passing of time for example, King/Queen compared to Emperor. Knowledge organisers are utilised.

Each topic begins with a ‘wondrous moment’ to get the children interested and this may be an educational visit, workshop, artefact, image or story.

Each unit plans for historical knowledge (people, events, situations, developments, chronology, characteristic features, historical terms) linked to a particular period. As children move through the school, this is revisited and built upon from earlier units where possible. This strengthens the children’s instinctive layer of historical knowledge that all new historical learning will become embedded within.

Each unit also focuses on historical concepts (continuity and change, cause and consequence, similarity and difference, historical significance, historical evidence, chronology). Both substantive and disciplinary knowledge are supported by using key historical skills, which are embedded throughout units and at the heart of the history curriculum (enquiry, using evidence, interpreting, evaluating, using sources, organising and communicating ideas). Substantive and disciplinary knowledge are interwoven in our history curriculum.

Historical Knowledge:

  • Chronological knowledge/understanding – dates, time-lines and sequencing events.
  • Characteristic features including people and places – how we recognise the defining features of a period or event through physical features, such as dress/costume, architecture, transport, agriculture, trade and the ideas that shape the period.
  • Historical terms – such as empire, civilization, democracy, monarchy etc.

Historical Concepts:

  • Continuity and change – similarities and differences within times as well as across periods.
  • Cause and consequence – why things happened and the effect that these events then provoked (the ripple through time).
  • Similarity and difference (diversity) – within a period/situation, between historical periods and over time.
  • Historical significance – of events/people.
  • Historical evidence (and contestability) – how do we know about the past and can we rely on these sources?.
  • Chronology* - understanding how time-lines and sequences can be traced back to each other

*Please note that chronology is classified as both a concept and form of historical knowledge.

Historical Skills:

  • Historical enquiry – history is all about investigation and questions from both children and teachers.
  • Using evidence/interpretations of history – sources of evidence including primary where appropriate and layering of sources as well as an awareness that there can be different versions of the same event and that history is about fact, bias and point of view. Making historical inferences based on different source material.
  • Evaluation – selecting and combining information, and investigating for bias. Analysis and identifying what is significant.
  • Understanding that our knowledge of the past is constructed from a range of sources.
  • Organising and communicating ideas – historical understanding can be shown through images, discussion, debate, diagrams, tables, drama, dance, written tasks and presentations.

Throughout the units children are required to organise and communicate their findings. This could be in the form of written learning, presentations, class discussion, group or partner work or even debate (in upper KS2). At the end of each unit, children take part in a quiz to assess their substantive and disciplinary knowledge and in response, time is given to not only revisit learning to embed within the children’s instinctive layer of historical knowledge, but also to address any misconceptions or

We have an inclusive approach which supports children with SEND. At Preston Park, teachers adapt and tailor their lessons to meet both the learning and physical needs of all children. Understanding and remembering historical vocabulary and abstract concepts can be challenging for some pupils. We ensure pupils have access to word banks and visual resources that might aid their comprehension. Tasks are adapted according to individual needs and pupils are supported with reading and writing, either by an adult or a peer in mixed ability groups. History lends itself to a multi-sensory teaching approach.  Lessons are visually stimulating through investigating artefacts and sources of information such as photos and video and children are also encouraged to participate in role-play to enhance their understanding of events or eras. Outcomes may vary for pupils working towards the same learning objective. Some pupils might produce an extended piece of writing whilst others produce a pictorial story board with captions.

What does this look for our children?

Children begin every topic by consolidating concepts from the previous topic(s) through retrieval tasks and re-visiting prior vocabulary. The Opening Worlds programme is a well-structured curriculum that sets out both the substantive and disciplinary knowledge children need to acquire by the end of their primary education. The programme builds a strong and increasingly complex schema that allows pupils to make connections between knowledge, embedding it into their long-term memory. This is more likely to generate curiosity in the subject, encouraging pupil motivation [3] [4]

Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS)

In the Early Years Foundation Stage, children learn historical skills as part of the ‘Understanding the World’ [4] area of learning. Within this area of learning, children will be guided to make sense of their physical world and their community. The frequency and range of children’s personal experiences increases their knowledge and sense of the world around them – from visiting parks, libraries and museums to meeting important members of society such as police officers, nurses and firefighters. In addition, listening to a broad selection of stories, non-fiction, rhymes and poems will foster their understanding of our culturally, socially, technologically and ecologically diverse world. As well as building important knowledge, this extends their familiarity with words that support understanding across domains. Enriching and widening children’s vocabulary will support later reading comprehension.

Children work towards the following Early Learning Goal (ELG), where children at the expected level of development will:  

  • Talk about the lives of the people around them and their roles in society;  
  • Know some similarities and differences between things in the past and now, drawing on their experiences and what has been read in class;  
  • Understand the past through settings, characters and events encountered in books read in class and storytelling.

The early learning goals in the EYFS aim to guide children in making sense of and talking about past and present events in their own lives and in the lives of family members. An emphasis on storytelling and use of books is also evident. At Preston Park, enquiry, communication and exploration are central to all aspects of the EYFS, and form the foundation for future history learning. We also ensure that book corners hold a variety of both fiction and nonfiction texts and that whole class story times include books with historical content and/or characters to promote questions and discussions about the past. 

Many children within the EYFS have younger and/or older siblings who they will see being involved in activities at a different level. This can be used to extend the children’s learning and understanding of themselves and the world around them. By the time children are in Reception, they will be increasingly aware of the changes in routines during different times of the day and seasons of the year.  Using themselves as starting points, children begin to learn that as they grow up they are increasingly able to do more things for themselves independently. They do this through discussion of their own baby photographs. These planned activities develop early historical skills such as enquiry and using evidence as well as disciplinary knowledge such as similarity and difference and chronology. 

Although there are short history sessions led by the teacher and follow up adult led activities, often history is taught discretely through play and child-led activities. Learning opportunities for history are planned for both inside and outside the classroom, and these link where possible to the weekly learning intentions as well as the children’s interests.

Teaching staff in the EYFS have a strong understanding of effective strategies for the teaching of early history. The curriculum is designed to help children embed their learning in order to integrate new knowledge and larger concepts. Teaching staff are trained in checking children’s learning and understanding, through questioning and formative assessment methods. Through this engagement with children, all staff are then able to provide suitable scaffolding or extension to support children in consolidating their learning of key historical concepts or challenging them further so that they reach their individual potential. At this stage recording historical thinking is encouraged whether this is pictorial or more formal written methods. At all times historical language and new vocabulary is prioritised.

Key Stage One (Years One and Two)

In Years 1 and 2, children begin to develop an awareness of the past. They focus on learning about the significant people, places and moments in history and understand where these fit within a chronological framework in relation to the modern day. Children use common words and phrases relating to the passing of time as well as more specific vocabulary and historical terms. Children learn to recognise similarities and differences between ways of life in different periods including their own. Enquiry is key and children will ask and answer questions, communicate their understanding and begin to understand how we find out about the past and the different ways it may be represented.

Year One Year Two
Autumn Term My Changes and those that I can remember Challenging Stereotypes: Emily Davidson & Mae Jemison
Spring Term The Gunpowder Plot Titanic
Summer Term The Great Fire of London Stone Age

Key Stage Two (Years Three Only)

Year 3, will focus on the Opening Worlds programme. 

Year Three
Autumn Term

Ancient Egypt

Cradles of civilisation

Spring Term

Indus Valley

Persia and Greece

Summer Term Ancient Greece: Alexander the Great

Upper Key Stage Two (Years Four to Six)

Years 4-6 children will begin to use their chronological understanding to sequence events and their significance in they past. Children will use timelines to demonstrate changes and developments in culture, technology, religion and society (including comparisons between different locations around the world). The children will support their historical understanding and enquiry by giving their own reasons why changes may have occurred. As well as, describing similarities and differences between some people, events and objects studied.

Year Four Year Five Year Six
Autumn Term Romans The Victorians: a significant turning point in British History The Second World War
Spring Term


Christianity in three empires

The First World War Mayan Civilisation
Summer Term

Arabia and early Islam


Historical Figures (1900s) Changes in crime and punishment from the Stone Age to today

Progression of skills and knowledge

Our history curriculum has been driven by pedagogy about cognition and learning. The ‘Progression of Skills and Understanding in History’ document refers to how historical concepts and historical knowledge are revisited year on year to embed and create ‘hereafter knowledge’. This instinctive layer of knowledge quietly underpins all later historical learning and there is a cumulative effect of teaching across key stages. 

How does our History curriculum contribute to our 21st Century learner?

The outcome of meeting the requirements of the National Curriculum for history ensures our children are well-versed in historical knowledge. Children are given opportunities to develop their skills as a historian through motivating lines of enquiry where they interpret evidence and communicate their ideas.

Children also gain a sense of historical perspective and the development of chronological understanding through texts studied in English which may include both literature and non-fiction works.

The outcome of a rich, rigorous and connected experience of learning in history will be a knowledge rich historian who can:

  • Ask pertinent historical questions.
  • Assess and critically evaluate potential answers to those questions.
  • Make reasoned judgements on the evidence.
  • Consider why people in the past may have behaved the way they did and what the consequences of their actions were.
  • Appreciate that different historical perspectives and interpretations exist and respect alternative perspectives.
  • Categorise different historical events and historical periods into a chronological time frame.

Our children will have a historical lens that will enable them to appreciate how the past has shaped the present. They will understand that there is no one view about the past, and that historians’ accounts of the past may differ.

We strive to ensure that all children meet the ‘Expected Standard’ at the end of Key Stage 2.


Research frames our thinking in what we teach and how we deliver it to our children to ensure teaching and learning has maximum impact.

Please see references to the research linked above:

[1] What is Opening Worlds?

[2] DfE History programmes of study: key stages 1 and 2 - National Curriculum in England

[3] Historical Inquiry Process

[4]DfE Development Matters: Non-Statutory curriculum guidance for the early years foundation stage