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History

“A people without the knowledge of their past history, origin and culture is like a tree without roots.” – Marcus Garvey

“Study the past if you would define the future.” – Confucius

At Furness we recognise the importance of learning History as a way of making sense of the world but also constructing and understanding own identity.  By learning history, we come to understand how the world has come to be the way it is, and that far from being static and unchanging, our planet, its countries and civilisations are constantly evolving entities.  Only once we realise how the achievements of civilisations and individuals, the catalysts of wars and the roots of inequality have shaped modern life can we begin to shape the future and change our world for the better, avoiding the mistakes of the past.

We have endeavoured to make our history curriculum as relevant to our pupils as possible by drawing upon the rich history of the local area (which dates back to Anglo-Saxon times), including that of our Victorian school, from its formative years to World War II, when it was hit by an incendiary bomb during an air raid.  Furthermore, we promote diversity and multiple narratives by incorporating elements of ‘black history’ throughout our curriculum, without isolating it to one month of the year when we celebrate Black History Month.

All year groups have access to a wide range of replica artefacts, models, materials and other objects in their history ‘topic boxes’, which bring the learning to life and greatly enhance the children’s understanding of the features of the time period they are studying.  We also use History to promote a love of reading – each topic has several sets of carefully chosen reference books which pupils use for research and to enrich their learning.

History Map

Intent

Our school’s intent is to offer a high-quality history education that will help pupils gain a coherent knowledge and understanding of Britain’s past and that of the wider world. It should inspire pupils’ curiosity to know more about the past. Teaching should equip pupils to ask perceptive questions, think critically, weigh evidence, sift arguments, and develop perspective and judgement.  History helps pupils to understand the complexity of people’s lives, the process of change, the diversity of societies and relationships between different groups, as well as their own identity and the challenges of their time.

At Furness we aim 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

Implementation

The History curriculum at Furness is tailored to meet the requirements of the National Curriculum whilst ensuring a clear progression of knowledge and skills, but also to meet the needs of the pupils and acknowledge the diverse range of backgrounds that make up the school community.

EYFS-KS2
  • PlanBee units of work – Following teacher feedback on the humanities, in 2021 the decision was made to purchase planning and resources to support the majority of humanities topics in the school.  The units of work are aligned with NNC objectives, clearly address the teaching of key skills as well as knowledge and link well to our 6Es pedagogy.  Lessons also contain a variety of differentiated resources to provide greater challenge for more able pupils and support for those that need it.  Providing these resources has helped strengthen teaching and learning, and ensured all pupils across KS1-2 receive a more consistent provision of education in the humanities, however teachers still have the autonomy and flexibility to adapt the plans and content of lessons as they see fit.
  • Cross Curricular Reading – Children are given opportunities to do their own reading/research within each History topic, allowing them to see the value of reading to learn and discover.  Children use a variety of reading material to support knowledge acquisition in each topic, including high-quality class reference books, printed resources, websites and written primary source material.  Sets of reference books for each topic have been purchased for use as guided reading material, group research tasks or independent reading.
  • Cross Curricular Writing – Opportunities for writing are embedded throughout each history topic; each lesson should have a written outcome, even if this is a brief summary of the learning or an opportunity to ask historical questions.  Towards the middle or end of a topic, at least one opportunity to write at length is provided for.  This provides a platform for children to showcase their knowledge of the topic whilst incorporating and consolidating skills being developed in English lessons.  Examples include newspaper reports about The Blitz in Year 6, or writing a diary entry in role as Samuel Pepys in Year 2.  In some cases, year groups choose to incorporate their humanities topic directly into their English planning to further develop non-fiction writing skills.  For example, children in Year 5 study the features of newspaper report writing before writing their own report about the Viking raid of Lindisfarne as part of a one-week block in English.
  • Links with Mathematics – these are established where possible within each topic to help children see the application of maths in different contexts.  All KS2 classes look at the Roman number system, but in Y4 this learning is explicitly linked to the Romans topic and further opportunities to practice using and applying Roman numerals are provided.  Similarly, in Year 5 children explore Mayan vigesimal (base 20) number system, develops their understanding of place value and their conceptual knowledge of how a number system functions.  Another key area that mathematics is developed through History teaching and learning is the use of timelines, which form an integral part of the learning in all History units.  By sequencing and interpreting timelines, children learn to calculate time periods by finding the difference between given dates.  It also helps to develop their conceptual understanding of longer time durations, such as decades, centuries or even millennia.
  • Use of primary source material – Teachers plan to include primary sources for pupils to engage with as much as possible within each given topic.  By doing so, children begin to appreciate the way in which our knowledge of the past is constructed from our understanding and interpretation of the primary sources available.  This approach also helps to develop children’s enquiry and reasoning skills, as the expectation is that they are given time to explore and make sense of a source themselves, discussing possible interpretations and drawing on prior knowledge / experience, before being told what it is by the teacher.  Most topics have a resource box of replica artefacts and objects to explore.
  • Use of core texts in English linked to History topics – Year groups each have at least one core text per year that feeds into their history topic.  This provides another opportunity for cross-curricular links, whilst allowing children to apply the learning in history to writing in English and vice versa.  For example, Year 3 study the core text Stone Age Boy to link with their learning on Britain from the Stone Age – Iron Age.

History linked core texts in KS1 & 2:

  • Black History Month – The school participates annually in Black History Month during October; we use this as an opportunity to explore different historical achievements and contributions of people of African and Caribbean decent, and to celebrate diversity within school.  Our focus for BHM changes each year, with each year group being assigned an individual or aspect to focus on in class. 
Black History Month(1)

BHM topics are often incorporated into English teaching to form a short unit of work and establish meaningful cross-curricular links.  The children’s learning is then celebrated through a special assembly, with other visitors and workshops organised to compliment the work being done in school.  Because of the makeup of the school community, we believe that the contribution of people of African and Caribbean descent is something that should be acknowledged and celebrated all year round - not isolated to one month – so teachers often incorporate elements of black history into other curriculum areas, for example, during the Spring Term, Year 2 study Mary Seacole alongside Florence Nightingale. 

  • Remembrance Day – The school commemorates the sacrifices made by members of the armed forces past and present through participation in Remembrance activities, which include buying/selling poppies for the Royal British Legion, raising money for charities by taking part in Red, White and Blue day, arranging for visitors to come and speak with the children about Remembrance and the role of the armed forces, and through work done in class (which is celebrated in Remembrance displays around the school). 
Remembrance

Remembrance Day and they period leading up to it provide a useful platform for developing and consolidating children’s knowledge of significant events (such as the major World Wars) that have shaped Britain and the wider world, whilst also establishing links with PSHE / British Values.

  • Other whole school events, e.g. Windrush Week, are organised (though they may not recur annually) to promote awareness of and celebrate other important aspects of British and World History that are not incorporated into existing History topics.  Celebrating events such as Windrush Week provide further opportunities for learning about History in other contexts while establishing cross-curricular links with English and the arts. 
  • Educational Visits – These form an integral part of the learning experience for children whilst building upon their ‘cultural capital’ by exposing them to sights, locations and activities they may otherwise not have the opportunity to be involved with.  We are fortunate enough to be able to easily take advantage of the wealth of resources that the capital has to offer, in particular the British Museum, where pupils can often see the real artefacts and other primary sources they may have seen photos or reproductions of in class. 
  • IntoUniversity – Classes in KS2 that are involved with the IntoUniversity program often link the learning activities in these sessions to their Humanities topic, which helps to enrich the learning already taking place in class and provide a different perspective.  In Year 6, children visit the HMS Belfast as part of their work with IntoUniversity, which greatly compliments their learning about WW2. 
  • Assessment – We aim to make assessment in the humanities as meaningful as possible whilst still being manageable for the class teacher.  For each topic, class teachers produce a cover sheet that details the key skills and knowledge that will be covered throughout the unit (these objectives are taken from a shared document which covers ‘Progression in History’).  The key objectives are used to underpin all learning taking place within that topic, and teachers are able to use them to judge whether individual children are working within, below or above the expected standard for their age.
Progression statements

Impact

The impact of our History curriculum is that the majority of children in our school, are able to…

  • Talk confidently about how they learn about history (skills), as well as what they know (knowledge)
  • Use a wide range of historical and subject-specific vocabulary
  • Frame historically valid questions and select / use relevant source material to answer questions about the past
  • Show an interest an enthusiasm for finding out about the past and how it has influenced the world we live in today
  • Make links between the periods studied, drawing comparisons and identifying connections
  • By the end of KS2, most children are able to articulate a chronological and coherent narrative of key events, individuals and civilisations that have shaped Britain and the wider world.

Recommended Websites for Pupils:

DK Find Out! – https://www.dkfindout.com/

National Geographic Kids – https://kids.nationalgeographic.com/

Kids Britannica - https://kids.britannica.com/

BBC Bitesize – https://www.bbc.co.uk/bitesize/subjects/zcw76sg

National Trust – https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/lists/history-for-kids

History for Kids – https://www.historyforkids.net/

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