Subject Curriculum Vision

At Birley Primary Academy, we want History to fire children’s curiosity about the past in Britain and the wider world and help them to understand the diversity of human experience. History is important as it provides children with the opportunities to empathise with others, argue a point of view and reach their own conclusions – essential skills that are prized in adult life. Therefore, we aim for a high-quality history curriculum that has been carefully designed and sequenced to equip our children with a secure, coherent knowledge of British, local and world history.


Aims of The National Curriculum

The National Curriculum for History aims 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

The Teaching of the Curriculum

At Birley Primary Academy, we strive to ensure that our children develop a secure knowledge that they can build upon; therefore, our History curriculum is organised into a progression model that outlines the skills, knowledge and vocabulary to be taught in a sequentially coherent way. Chronological understanding, historical understanding, historical enquiry,  interpretations of history, the notion of significance and organising and communicating historical knowledge are all mapped out to ensure children build upon secure prior knowledge. These can be viewed on the academy’s skills progression document below.

History is delivered through subject-specific teaching, organised into the academy’s blocked curriculum under a theme that have been purposefully developed to help children appreciate their own identity and challenges faced in  time. We take an enquiry-based approach to teaching History whereby each topic is framed upon key questions that guides the teaching.

Meaningful cross curricular links are made with other subjects to strengthen connections and understanding for pupils while exploring historical contexts, particularly within our English Curriculum. Where possible, Reading and Writing lessons are linked to the topics and enrichment activities are planned in order to help immerse the children in the topic helping to make the learning more memorable. 

There are selected substantive concepts (outlined in the Historical Concept) that reoccur in topics across the key stages, which enable children to gain a good understanding of chronology and make links between different periods of history. These links are outlined in each topic overview to ensure teachers understand the children’s prior learning and use timelines to help support their chronological understanding.

At the start of each topic, children will review previously learning and will have the opportunity to share what they already know about their current topics. At the end of the topic, children complete a post-assessment quiz which assesses their retention and focusses upon factual and chronological knowledge. Throughout each topic, children are provided with a knowledge organiser detailing some key information, dates and vocabulary. This is not used as part of an assessment, but to support children with their acquisition of knowledge and is used as a reference document.

History in the Early Years

In the Early Years Foundation Stage children begin to learn that as they grow up they are increasingly able to do more things for themselves independently. This emerging knowledge and understanding is used to explore crucial early historical skills. Activities in the EYFS address a number of key historical concepts of chronological awareness. These are presented through a cross-curricular approach that aims to develop children’s learning across a range of the key learning areas. The children are introduced early on in their learning to methods which will help them to develop an understanding of chronology, which is essential for communication and language as well as numerical literacy. These include:

  • Beginning to use historical based language – language associated with the passage of time
  • A sense of uniqueness and of belonging to a community
  • Developing a sense of historical enquiry;
  • Comparison and contrast, similarity and differences, variety;
  • Historical narrative and sequence and a sense of chronology and duration;
  • An introduction to handling artefacts and the use of evidence.


Educational visits are an integral part of the curriculum at Birley Primary Academy. They help bring history ‘alive’ and give real substance and relevance to classroom learning. Visits to places such as a Hardwick Hall and access to their resources and expertise has provided valuable insight to understanding history at the local level and making links of our past. Year 4 undertake a visit to Murton Park to support pupils’ learning about the Vikings and their impact on Britain.

History theme days are also part of the curriculum to give pupils a fun and immersive experience with the historical periods they are studying. They take place during identified topics so that pupils are familiar with the historical context. Our theme days include learning about The Great Fire of London in Year 2 and a day based upon World War II for Year 6. Further to these days, whole school themes, such as Black History Month and Remembrance, all require pupils to focus on specific aspects of History.


By the end of their primary education at Birley Primary Academy, our learners will have gained a rich body of historical knowledge and a wide range of historical enquiry skills, which they can apply to a range of contexts. We also aspire for children to leave Birley Primary Academy being able to understand, debate and discuss elements of British and World History which have shaped the world we live in. 

How do we monitor the impact of our History curriculum?

At Birley Primary Academy, we monitor and measure the impact of our curriculum through learning walks, book scrutiny, pupil voice and formative and summative assessment The impact of the curriculum will be judged by how well the pupils can remember, understand and apply the core knowledge they have learned. Key historical skills, concepts and knowledge are mapped through statements describing the expectations for pupils in each year group. Teachers use the school assessment framework to regularly assess pupils’ learning against specific criteria by using a range of assessment tools to monitor pupil progress, for example: recall quizzes, assessment for learning, structured discussion-based activities, independent work completed, end-of-topic assessments and pupil voice. All summative assessment grades are inputted termly on the academy’s tracking system, DC Pro. Teachers meet to review and moderate individual examples of work against exemplification materials on an academy and locality level to validate judgements.

Readiness for Next Stage of Education

At Birley Primary Academy, we understand the importance of History and our role in inspiring pupils to continue to study this subject. By studying history children gain a range of transferable skills, from informed citizenship and critical thinking, to research and general awareness. What’s more, the knowledge acquired through the study of history is relevant in a wide range of disciplines and can lead to diverse employment opportunities in the future.

Promotion of British Values and SMSC

Through our History curriculum, we ensure that our children are well-equipped for life in modern Britain. British Values are present throughout our History curriculum and are developed in numerous ways, such as:

  • Considering the value of the rule of law where all people are equal before the law
  • Mutual respect is taught and given when children are expressing their opinions and beliefs through different historical time periods. Children are taught and encouraged to show respect to each other’s beliefs, feelings and opinions by giving each child a forum to share these on with the expectation that these must be listened to

Further to this, our History curriculum is also driven by SMSC development and this can be exemplified in the following ways;

  • Spiritual – The study of History involves a sense of curiosity and the mystery of how and why events in the past happened and raises questions as to what could have happened if events had had different results.
  • Moral – Pupils are asked to consider and comment on moral questions and dilemmas. Events and beliefs in the past will often be at odds with what we would consider acceptable today; therefore, pupils will be encouraged to show compassion for people facing dilemmas and to empathise with decisions which people in the past made and the reasoning behind these decisions.
  • Social – Pupils will explore the similarities and contrasts between past and present societies and be made aware of how, in the main, we are very fortunate to live in ‘the modern world’.
  • Cultural – Pupils will study, and be encouraged to gain an understanding of and empathise with, people from different cultural backgrounds. They will examine how other cultures have had a major impact on the development of ’British’ culture. Pupils develop a better understanding of our multicultural society through studying links between local, British, European and world history.


History Overview

History Skills Progression