Although for 2014 we have a new National Curriculum, we still need to have a clear rationale for what we choose to teach. If the history curriculum is not well planned then four relatively wasted years (the longest key stage) will be hard to recover. For you as subject leader, the main challenge is to ensure that pupils are taught in such a way that the important skills and conceptual understandings are progressively developed within a set of motivating contexts. You will need to go beyond allocating units of work to specific year groups, not least because you need to ensure that pupils are developing a coherent chronological framework. Although much of the advice relates specifically to history, you will see that there are helpful sections on literacy, numeracy, ICT, and citizenship as well as thinking skills and creativity.
What are your curriculum priorities?
Above all you will want to create a curriculum that serves the needs of the pupils and staff at your school. You should not be trying to second-guess what an ideal curriculum should be like, but rather to create your own, using others’ ideas certainly. This curriculum needs a clear rationale. So the second part of this section deals with that directly.
You will also need to influence medium-term as well as long-term planning in order to help pupils see history as enquiry – a set of questions to be answered using evidence. Pupils also need to see history as a matter of interpretation. If one teacher in,say Y4, departs from the main messages that you are trying to get over in history sessions, then it will be much more difficult for teachers in Y5 and 6 to recover the ground. This happens more often than you would like to think. Many experienced teachers have often taught history in the same way as they experienced it. Young teachers, fresh from college, now receive far less training in primary history than at any time in the past 20 years. This places a major responsibility on your shoulders to get the curriculum right in the first place and to devise ways of making sure that all year teams adhere closely to what you have planned. I find that the use of key questions really helps here if you phrase them in such a way as to make it obvious that a form of conceptual understanding or historical process is being developed.
Devising key questions is crucially important. Try to ask the same types of question throughout the key stage. For example “What were factory conditions really like in Victorian times?” immediately suggests that there is a difference of opinion that needs resolution. One way to do this would be through role play in which mill children and factory owners gave different versions of what it was like inside the cotton mills. Pupils quickly see the reasons for the differences as vested interest contrasts with exaggeration (he would say that wouldn’t he !).
If we can pose a series of key questions in the same style in each topic, which give a balance of the conceptual understandings, then what emerges is a much more coherent experience for the pupils. They have reference points from past history-led topics. Remember when you looked at different interpretations of Boudicca with Mrs James, well in this topic we are looking at another episode which has been interpreted very differently and we’re going to work out why we have so many different versions.
History is full of opportunities to enhance pupils' grasp of numeracy. We don't have to contrive examples. We do, however, need to appreciate what different historical contexts can offer and build them into our schemes of work. Rather than deal in generalities, I will...
KS2 History Planning and PlansAll topics now have full medium-term plans rated as outstanding by OFSTED. You will find them as downloadable high-quality files in the resources section below. You'll need to scroll to the bottom. Each plan has 6 key questions which address the most important...
As a rule, this site does not recommend the publication of short-term planning, preferring instead to focus on very detailed medium-term plans and allowing teachers space to create their own short term lesson plans.It is not just me that thinks we have all become...