Ten steps to local history success at KS1 and 2
Step 1: decide the topics you wish to follow as stated in the National Curriculum.
Remember that you don’t need to study just one long local study. Many schools do 2 or 3 shoter ones. What matters most is the type of experience and learning opportunities that local history offers. The best involve lots of fieldwork and oral history
Step 2: do your research on possible local history case studies – approach your local library, museum or Historic England Local Heritage Education Manager
Often local historians can help. I am the archivist for our village and know many knowledgeable friends who would be only two pleased to share their knowledge and stories with a new generation.
Step 3: decide what you want your pupils to know, do and understand at the end of the project that they didn’t know, couldn’t do and didn’t understand at the start
So in other words think skills as well as content. Can pupils compare information from a map a census return and somebody’s memory of the landscape to see where the sources agree and disagree?
Step 4: decide your overarching enquiry question and the step-by-step sub-questions
Keep these questions open-ended as much of the history of your locality will not be as definitively written and the text you find in other history books.
Step 5: decide the final piece of work which will bring the project together
It will be really important that you make this as enticing and novel as possible. What about a giant display? What about an audio-visual tour?
Step 6: select the resources the pupils will need
This is crucial as very few local history resources are written for young children. Much will need adapting but there are useful series of books such as Hometown world which offer a colourful and lively history of 50 British towns designed for KS2 readers
Step 7: decide what will be the hook – the way into the project
Often this will be in the form of a story, a newspaper clipping, an object or even a mystery building.
Step 8: decide how the pupils will research the question – how will the fieldwork be organised?
This is the time to enlist parental help. Many parents have a deep-seated interest in their locality and would love the time to explore it whilst helping other children too.
Step 9: decide how the pupils will organise and analyse the evidence gathered
Invest time in creating what are called graphic organisers so that pupils can easily tabulate and retrieve their findings
Step 10: decide how you will assess the project
Try to do this in a different way to the other history topics. In particular look at
- How well pupils are able to ask their own questions
- How well they retrieve information
- How well they deal with contradictory or missing evidence
- How well they communicate their understanding to others e.g. parents/museum curators
For some excellent examples of local history plans see Outstanding lessons; KS2 local history