History at Christ Church must be engaging and relevant to our pupils. Our topics are carefully planned to build on the expectations of the National Curriculum, providing learning opportunities that are meaningful to pupils from our highly multicultural school and relevant to pupils living in Bradford-on-Avon.
We want our pupils to be ‘secondary ready’ in terms of both knowledge and skills, and for our curriculum to build up to that point across all year groups. Pupils must develop a deep and embedded understanding of concepts covered.
Additionally, we want our Christ Church pupils to develop good values, such as the ability to think critically, to respect Britain’s multicultural nature and to treat others kindly. History must allow pupils to learn about their backgrounds and have context for our modern society. We also want our history teaching to be multicultural. It is reported too often in wider society that history is delivered in a very ethno-centric fashion through education and the media.
The history curriculum at Christ Church has two main components. Our topic map, revisited yearly, builds on the National Curriculum by mapping our topics that build on each other progressively. Topics are chosen for their relevance to the local community and to reflect the values we have chosen for our history teaching. The second component of our curriculum is a skills map. We have a clear progression of skills from early years through to Year 6, with pupils building up skills such as critical thinking, use of timelines and source analysis.
History teaching itself is varied and exciting. It is a subject our pupils look forward to when it appears on the timetable. A wide range of resources are used, from digital to practical. Visitors and trips are used on a regular basis to enrich learning and provide enjoyment. Reading materials are provided for pupils to pursue their own interests. Displays throughout the school further enrich learning and provide excitement and engagement.
We alternate our history and geography lessons on a termly basis. For example, if term 1 is a history term, then term 2 will be a geography term. History takes up at least an hour each week.
History is carefully planned and sequenced such that old learning is revisited and built upon. Lessons start with recall activities to keep old learning fresh. Light but formal assessment is used at the start and end of a topic to ensure that all pupils have secured a good understanding over the course of the term. Lessons have a clear focus, aimed to provide knowledge and skills based on our topic plan and skills progression documents.
Teachers ensure that ALL pupils are able to access history by adapting their lessons. Adapting our teaching can be done through a range of means- changing tasks to raise or lower the challenge, deploying additional adult support, providing extra or alternative resources and so on. It is paramount that all pupils make effective progress.
The chosen themes of diversity, equality, changing attitudes to women, invasion, settlement and education have been carefully woven through the entire curriculum to ensure that knowledge is built upon and developed.
Christ Church adopts an enquiry focused approach to learning and teaching in history which develops our pupils as historians. Through enquiry our pupils not only build subject knowledge and understanding but become increasingly adept at asking perceptive questions, thinking critically, weighing evidence, sifting arguments, and developing perspective and judgement. We structure learning in history through overarching enquiry questions linked to each topic with each week answering a sub question that adds to the overall enquiry. Our curriculum is therefore ‘knowledge rich’ rather than content heavy as we recognise that if we attempt to teach historical topics and themes in their entirety we restrict opportunities for pupils to master and apply critical thinking skills and achieve more challenging subject outcomes. Knowledge and skills are regularly visited, and built upon as children progress through the school with the implications of cognitive load being regularly thought about and applied.
By the end of Year 6, our pupils should love history and be equipped with the skills to continue their studied, independently and at secondary school. They should be strong critical thinkers, effective at sorting and categorising knowledge, analysing and judging the reliability of information and understanding a wide range of tools that historians use, such as timelines.
Pupils will have a solid understanding of British history up to the Norman invasion of 1066. This understanding will focus on three key periods- Neolithic Britain, Roman Britain as well as Saxon Britain and the Viking Age. Additionally pupils will have a good understanding of classical periods such as Ancient Egypt, Greece and Roman and will have carried out thematic studies across history.
In designing our curriculum, we have considered making it relevant by exploring facets of local history. Bradford-on-Avon itself is steeped in history. Bradford on Avon began life as an Iron Age community over two and a half millennia ago. At that time a tribe settled on a site of about six acres of headland with a view of forested hillsides and the marshy river valley. Protected by steep escarpments they lived a primitive life until the Roman occupation.
Wiltshire is also notable for its renowned prehistoric sites. Pupils have the opportunity to explore sites such as Stonehenge, Avebury and West Kennet through their learning on the Stone Age and Neolithic Britain.