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“The more you know about the past, the better prepared you are for the future.” Theodore Roosevelt


History Curriculum Intent

At Essa, we want to inspire, engage and challenge children by equipping them with the knowledge and skills to become confident historians, with a curiosity and fascination that help them to make sense of the striking similarities and vast differences in human experiences across time and place. Our curriculum is ambitious and engaging and allows children to develop a rich knowledge of the past and the ability to engage with historical enquiry.

The children deepen their understanding of History through learning key facts (substantive knowledge) They develop their expertise as historians by expanding their knowledge of how historians investigate the past, and how they construct historical claims, arguments and accounts, using historical enquiry to critically consider the status of historical claims (disciplinary knowledge).

The knowledge and skills that the children develop are progressive from EYFS to Year 6 and reflect the local context, allowing children to place historical events from their locality in context but also providing them with a window into other time periods and historical events. They learn about significant local figures from history as well as celebrating diverse figures from other time periods and cultures.  We ensure that when choosing historical figures, male and female figures are both represented and discussed. When selecting the content of the curriculum, teachers have taken into account what the children need based on their prior knowledge and experiences.

To ensure that this progression is embedded, we use ‘Big Ideas’ as ‘golden threads’.

The ‘Big Ideas’ for History are:

  • Artefacts and Sources (run through all units)

  • Chronology and Events (run through all units)

  • Conflict

  • Culture

  • Society and Government

  • Homes and Settlements

  • Travel and Exploration


These golden threads run through our curriculum planning from Reception to Year 6 and allow children to explore common themes across different units of work. Careful consideration is given to building a schema of historical knowledge and following a well-sequenced curriculum. Our history curriculum is not about separating off periods of time as distinct units of work. It is about developing children’s understanding through meaningful examples and repeated encounters with common threads. These ‘golden threads’ allow children to explore a theme across different periods of history. The ‘Big Ideas’ allow children to create a schema of historical knowledge that flows and progresses with them throughout their educational journey.


For example, a study of castles in the Early Years gives our youngest children the opportunity to read stories about settings and people in the past, finding out about where they lived. This is built upon in Key stage when children have the opportunity to find out about life in the past in their local area. This is developed in Key Stage 2, where the children gain an understanding of homes and settlements throughout history.

Regular opportunities are built in throughout our History curriculum for retrieval practice. This allows the children to make these links and ensure that powerful knowledge is embedded in the children’s long term memory. Our history curriculum is built on the premise of keep up, not catch up and there a re regular opportunities for children to revisit and summarise their learning throughout a unit and over time. We recognise that, in addition to accessing quality first teaching, some learners may need adaptations in order to access the curriculum. In history, these adaptations include:

  • A pre-teach of topic specific vocabulary as an additionality task

  • A reader to support when researching using a range of sources 

  • Print outs of work/presentations to scaffold with independent tasks 

  • More time allocated to process information or instructions broken down into manageable chunks.


Children are introduced to the main themes of a unit of work through our ‘SOAP’ (Subject On a Page). These prepare children for study by providing them with the chronology and key knowledge for the time period studied. These SOAPS make explicit the substantive knowledge that will be taught.


We want all children to be proud of their History work and want to give them the opportunity to celebrate their learning at every opportunity. At the end of each unit, the children complete a ‘ROAP’ (Review on a Page); this demonstrates the substantive and disciplinary knowledge they have gained and allows teachers to assess which areas need revisiting.

History Curriculum Implementation

The curriculum is built on the foundation of three ‘Es’:

Entitlement or core curriculum offer:

Whilst children’s formal History education begins in KS1, the development of historical skills begins in EYFS. The knowledge and vocabulary that they children gain as they explore their understanding of the world around them through daily continuous provision, completing weekly challenges and other focused provision prepares them for accessing future content. History has a high profile; in KS1 and KS2, History is delivered in units of work across the year which allow children to begin to build knowledge of important concepts and ideas from a young age and continue to build on these foundations throughout their education. The children have the opportunity to study a broad range of historical content, which often goes beyond the limitations of the national curriculum but always takes into account the range and depth of their existing knowledge and how secure it is in their minds. A range of high quality resources such as artefacts and photographs are available to support the curriculum and many units of work allow immersion through engaging field trips.


Children who demonstrate a love of History have the opportunity to develop this in a number of ways:

  • History club focused on the wider History curriculum

  • History club focused on expanding substantive knowledge

  • Educational visits



Children who excel in History have the opportunity to pursue their talents in a number of ways:

  • Links with the History department at Essa Academy

  • Culture department forms part of the pupil leadership team

  • Opportunity to run a student-led club

  • Opportunity to have their work featured at our weekly ‘Proud’



All of our school community (staff, senior leaders, governors and children are involved in measuring the impact of our History curriculum in different ways. This is planned for through the School Development Plan, and using our annual monitoring cycle and termly development plan to map out monitoring and review over the year.


Impact is measured by:

-       Collecting data from formative assessments (whole-class quizzes, assessment cups, exit tickets)

-       Collecting data from summative assessments (SOAP to ROAP)

-       Pupil voice to determine what children have remembered over time 

-       Staff voice to determine effectiveness of provided planning and the impact of professional development

-       Parent voice in our annual survey

-       Reviewing learning in humanities books

-       Reviewing progress made against steps to success each lesson and across a sequence of lessons

-       Governor visits to evaluate different areas of History

An impact statement is written each term by subject leaders to assess effectiveness of current provision, progress against objectives on action plans and inform and identify next steps.

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