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At Featherbank Primary School we aim to deliver a history curriculum that is accessible to all and that will maximise the outcomes for every child so that they know more, remember more and understand more. Our teaching of history will help pupils gain a secure knowlegde and understanding of Britain's past and that of the wider world. The curriculum is structured in a way that allows for children to make links between current and previous learning. 

We want children to be curious to know more about the past and to have skills required to explore their own interests. We want our history lessons to focus on working as historians and developing historical skills and for there to be many opportunities for the curriculum to be enriched through historical visits, visitors and events held in school.

We aim to enable children to ask perceptive questions, think critically, weigh evience, sift arguments, and develop perspective & judgement. It is important for children to develop a sense of identity through learning about the past and we want them to know how history has shaped their own lives, which is why the local area is utilised to achieve the curriculum outcomes. 

Teachers across the school use the long term plans for history to make comparisons between historical periods previously taught, developing children's chronological knowledge & understanding from the Stone Age to present day. They use a variety of teaching and learning styles in their history lessons to guide learners to see trends and processes in a broader, holistic perspective, resulting in knowledge that the children know and remember well. This is done through exploring the following substantive concepts over their entire primary history journey:-

  • Civilisation describes the process by which a society or place reaches an advanced stage of social and cultural development and organization
  • Empire is the word used to describe a group of territories under the rule of one state or person
  • Government is the system by which a country or state is ruled
  • Migration is moving from one place to settle in another
  • Trade is buying, selling or exchange of goods
  • Religion is the system of belief in, and worship of, a supernatural power or gods
  • Public Health is the health of the population as a whole, especially as a subject of government intervention & support; the branch of medicine dealing with public health, including hygiene, epidemiology & disease prevention
  • Crime & Punishment is an unlawful act and the penalty for wrongdoing
  • Warfare fighting between nations

We present the substantive knowledge and teach children to make connections, draw contrasts & analyse trends through the disciplinary concepts:

  • Continuity & change Create a sense of period & time; the sequence of when things happened. What changed & what continued? What might we see as ‘progress?’
  • Cause and Consequence How can we explain why things happened in history? How did people make a difference to what happened? What followed as a result of these?
  • Similarity and difference Identifying what is the same and what is different across periods and societies studied.
  • Historical significance How do we choose what is most important in history as we cannot use everything? (Is it remarkable? Remembered? Resonant? Resulting in change? Revealing?)

These disciplinary concepts are underpinned by the skills that children need to become effective historians:

  • Chronological Understanding Sequencing, events, stories, pictures and periods over time to show how different times relate to each other and contribute to a coherent understanding of the past.
  • Handling evidence Understanding the methods of enquiry for finding out about the past. How are these methods used to make historical claims? What are the problems when using historical sources?
  •   Historical interpretations How and why does the way that history is represented differ? Do we all understand the past in the same way? How do we show what the past was like?


 History starts with the children having a sense of themselves and the important people in their lives. Children are introduced to the concept of chronology by building up a timeline of the year. They then begin to explore the concept of past and present by using the history of their locality to begin to understand that there was a past and that we can talk about ‘then and now’ by using clues to see how things have changed over time. Through traditional tales and nursery rhymes, the children will continue to understand how we learn about the past and that although it was different from the present, it is still recognisable in many respects. Children will use the disciplinary concepts of: similarity & difference; continuity & change; and historical significance to begin their journey as historians.    


 At the beginning of Year 1 the children further develop their understanding of chronology by using a historical timeline (11000BC – to present) to map their key topics. They will start by learning about the characteristics of what life was like when their parents & grandparents were small, and to consider how and why things have changed over time. They will then use the disciplinary concepts introduced in EYFS to begin to explore the substantive concepts of government & public health, through the next 2 topics. Remember Me? – the children learn what it means to be a significant person, taking a closer look at some prominent local people and their achievements. They then further develop their understanding by studying two famous people from the north of England who are no longer with us, but whose actions made a difference to people’s lives and changed how we live today. In the final topic the children take chronology to the next level by exploring a time period beyond their living memory, focusing on the similarities and differences of holidaying in Victorian times, compared to now. In Year 2 the children continue to develop their understanding of chronology by looking at two different historical events beyond living memory (The Great Fire of London & the Gunpowder Plot). They are introduced to the disciplinary concept of cause & consequence for the first time to deepen their understanding of the substantive concepts of government, religion and crime & punishment. Whilst both of these significant events happened in London, our capital city, Guy Fawkes was a Yorkshire man, so this is an important link to the history of our locality. In their second topic, the history of flight (including space travel), the disciplinary concepts of continuity & change and historical significance are revisited again to introduce the substantive concept of civilisation as they learn how our lives have changed due to the contributions of significant individuals, both nationally & globally. In the final topic, by focusing on the key achievements of Florence Nightingale & Mary Seacole, the children will take their first steps into Black History, exploring themes of discrimination & prejudice.


In Year 3 the children will develop their understanding of chronology by learning that a timeline is split into AD and BC, and will look for the first time at a period of history that took place before the birth of Christ: Ancient Egypt. Children will build on their understanding of civilisation & religion through an in depth study, focusing on specific characteristics of Ancient Egypt and comparing them with life in Britain at this time. They then learn about Britain’s prehistory: Stone Age through to the Iron Age. By identifying different features of Britain’s prehistory, the children will learn about Britain’s first settlers and the consequence of discoveries & inventions that were turning points for the progress of the human race: fire, the wheel, pottery, tools etc. Through this topic, children are introduced to the substantive concepts of migration & warfare. The children then jump forward in time to learn about a more modern, significant turning point in British history: the development of railway, and its impact on our lives today. Trade and empire as substantive concepts are first seen here. In Year 4 the children explore Black History further and look at the accomplishments of key figures in the American civil rights movement (Martin Luther King, Rosa Parks, Bayard Rustin, John Lewis). They then continue their chronological journey by looking at how Britain changed from the Iron Age to the end of the Roman occupation, building further on their knowledge of empire, warfare, trade & public health. Finally, they look at another ancient civilisation and study the characteristics of Ancient Greek life, focusing on the significance of their achievements and the continued influence on the western world today. In Year 5 the children use the disciplinary concept of continuity and change to learn about Anglo-Saxon settlements & their struggles with the Vikings during the Dark Ages. They then look at the consequences of the Golden Age of Islam and finish the year by considering whether the Victorian age was golden or dark, exploring the industrial revolution in a local context. Through all 3 topics the children will be further developing a secure grasp of all the substantive concepts, with the exception of empire. In Year 6 the children look at modern history and use WW2 and the impact it had on Britain to further develop the concept of historical significance. They end their historical journey by completing two thematic studies extending their knowledge of British history beyond 1066: historical portraits and imagery – where the children reinforce their understanding of interpretation and know why it is important not to take everything they see at face value; and crime & punishment through the ages – where the children look at the ‘justness’ of justice over the years, focusing in detail on Nelson Mandela and his ‘crimes.’ Through these 2 thematic units the children draw together their previous learning of all substantive & disciplinary concepts, as they complete their primary historical journey.

By the time the children at Featherbank leave our school they should have developed:

  • A secure knowledge and understanding of people, events and contexts from the historical periods covered.
  • The ability to think critically about history and communicate confidently in styles appropriate to a range of audiences.
  • The ability to consistently support, evaluate and challenge their own and others’ views using detailed, appropriate and accurate historical evidence derived from a range of sources.

Assessment in history is an ongoing process. Teachers will make informal judgements about pupils progress & attainment as they observe them throughout lessons & mark their work. Outcomes in  writing books evidence a broad and balanced history curriculum and demonstrate the children’s acquisition of identified key knowledge and skills. Emphasis is placed on analytical thinking and questioning which helps pupils gain a coherent knowledge and understanding of Britain’s past and that of the wider world and are curious to know more about the past.Regular school trips provide further relevant and contextual learning. Pop quizzes at the end of each unit will help teachers to identify what children know and remember well..