With the OFSTED Framework for 2019 very much in mind the clever people at OneBigHistoryDepartment have come up with a list of questions to ask yourself about your KS3 history curriculum


  • What do you want your students in your school to know by the end of KS3? Why is this important?
  • What are the topics that are fundamental for your students to know? Why are they so important?
  • What are the topics that you will leave out of your curriculum? Why are they not important enough to include?
  • What disciplinary knowledge (second order concepts) should students develop in each year? Why is this important?
  • What substantive knowledge (first order concepts) should students develop in each year? Which concepts will they need to understand to make the most of GCSE and A-level?
  • Are you being as ambitious as you can be for your students? Is there sufficient challenge in the curriculum you are setting?
  • Does your curriculum reflect the diversity of your student body? Are there too many ‘great men’ making up your curriculum?
  • Do all your team share a clear vision for the history curriculum? Are they all able to articulate this if asked? Do the students know this vision?
  • How does your curriculum build towards GCSE and A-Level? (it should build towards this but not be constrained by it)
  • Is there the correct balance of local, national and international history in your curriculum?


  • How many lessons do you have per year? How will you split this between the topics you have chosen? Should all topics have equal attention?
  • Are smaller or longer units more beneficial?
  • How are you framing your topics? Are you using the right enquiry questions?
  • Are your topics / enquiry questions grounded in and reflecting the recent scholarship of historians?
  • Will you structure units chronologically or will you look at a more thematic approach?
  • How are you building on KS2 knowledge in Year 7? How are you building on Year 7 knowledge in Year 8?
  • Have you built in concepts that can be returned to time and time again? e.g. empire, authority
  • Does the sequence of units or the sequence of lessons make sense? Will students have sufficient background knowledge from previous units or lessons to undertake the next?
  • How are you avoiding a ‘one thing after another’ syndrome? Are you using any ‘scale switching’ (e.g. from breadth to depth) to stitch particular enquiries together?
  • How can you build a sense of different time periods?
  • Are there questions that underpin the entire curriculum (e.g. What are people’s beliefs?) that could be returned to time and time again?
  • Should you build in pauses in the curriculum for reflection and to return to the chronology?
  • Should you build in time for staff to explore areas of the agreed curriculum that particularly interest them or a particular students?
  • Is the core knowledge you expect to see covered in lessons explicit to staff, students and parents?
  • Is there a list of key academic vocabulary that should be used in lessons?
  • How will you use homework to ensure students meet your curriculum intention?


  • How will you know your students have met your curriculum intention?
  • Is you assessment designed for your curriculum rather than being constrained by GCSE assessment models designed for 16 year olds?
  • How much assessment is enough for the students to get sufficient feedback to improve their work but not increase your staff workload?
  • Does your assessment system test if students are building knowledge across a term, a year or the key stage?
  • How are you explicitly testing students substantive and disciplinary knowledge?
  • Are you utilising cognitive science techniques of regular recall and interleaving when you build students memory?