‘The more you know about the past, the better prepared you are for the future.’ Theodore Roosevelt
At Courtwood we want our children to have a passion for the past, shown through an enthusiastic love of learning, with a sense of curiosity to investigate history. History is taught as a Learning Journey across a number of weeks, and children have the opportunity to be curious, ask questions, engage with sources and draw their own conclusions and judgements based on their understanding and subsequent interpretation. By the time they leave Courtwood for secondary school, our children have a strong knowledge and understanding of people and cultures, events and eras, from a range of historical periods and are able to make connections and comparisons between them. Children learn about key historical figures within their units of work and their importance or impact upon society at the time. Our knowledge organisers support the teaching sequences in classrooms. Learning in history is discrete, but children are encouraged to transfer their knowledge into their wider work, for example using their understanding of The Blitz in World War 2, to inform their writing in English.
We follow the National Curriculum Programme of Study for history at KS1 and KS2. The history curriculum is organised so that children study an aspect of British history (chronologically) in the autumn term of each year group, from Year 3 upwards, to ensure they can make connections and comparisons with historical periods that have already been studied. This also supports their understanding of chronology. In either the spring or summer term, each junior class then learns about an ancient civilisation or historical period (also chronologically), developing knowledge of concurrent civilisations and eras from around the world.
In the infants, children learn about changes in living memory and significant events in the Croydon locality, as well as events beyond living memory such as The Great Fire of London. They also study significant individuals who have contributed to national and international achievements, such as Sir Christopher Wren and Sir George Gilbert Scott. Each period studied begins with an overarching enquiry question that the children will seek to answer during the sequence of learning, that builds their understanding of how historians work to construct the past.
We use the historical second-order concepts (taught throughout the history curriculum) of cause; consequence; change and continuity; similarity and difference; historical significance; sources and evidence; and historical interpretations, to incrementally build children’s knowledge and develop children’s understanding of these concepts across time. Further to this we have identified some of the key concepts in history that we believe will further enhance children’s understanding and enjoyment of history. These are: invasion; law and order; settlements; conflict; progress and change; historical figures and religion and beliefs. Where these concepts arise in a teaching unit, children are encouraged to retrieve knowledge they have previously learned, to gradually build their understanding and be able to apply in different contexts, reason and make connections, strengthening their long-term memory.
We use Ready-to-Progress assessments at the end of each unit of work, to ascertain whether children have learned and remembered the content of the intended curriculum well enough to be deemed ‘ready to progress’ to the next stage in their history learning. These assessments support pupils to feel confident they have made progress in their learning and show them how they have built on previous knowledge; allow teachers to respond to any gaps at both an instructional and a curricular level; and allow curriculum leaders to know how well the curriculum is being taught, learned and remembered and implement intervention as necessary.
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