Biggin Hill Primary School is a rural South-East London school with World War 2 History at its heart. Our History curriculum strives to ignite children’s curiosity about the past in Britain and the wider world. Our enriching, stimulating, inquiry based curriculum enables the children to find out about how and why the world, our country, culture and local community have developed over time. Children at Biggin Hill Primary School understand how the past influences the present. Our children come from a non-diverse community and their experiences reflect this. General attitudes among our children are shaped upon an assumption that this is the norm throughout the UK and typical of the rest of the country. The history curriculum at our school aims to address these issues by ensuring equality and diversity are weaved throughout to give children the powerful cultural capital they need to understand the world and society in which they are growing up, celebrating this diversity throughout past and present. We understand that what our children learn through history can influence their decisions about personal choices, attitudes and values. The Biggin Hill locality forms a strong base with World War 2, being one of Britain’s oldest aerodromes. RAF Biggin Hill is still internationally recognised for its role as Sir Winston Churchill’s ‘strongest link’ in the Battle of Britain. Our school has strong links with the Biggin Hill War Memorial Museum and our children celebrate their historical locality at school through our curriculum, assemblies and awareness days. We endeavour for our children to feel enthusiastic to go home and want to research more about their topic, hence why our discovery homework is very much inquiry based. We equip our children with key life skills such as creative thinking, independence and empathy when researching and learning about past events.
Through careful curriculum planning, teachers will focus on the specific knowledge that will be critical for progression. Teachers will identify and review key knowledge and skills from previous years and address any misconceptions at the start of each unit. Key links to previous learning will continue to be made through use of concept maps. Locating and situating knowledge in relation to other significant historical events/eras studied, using timelines to gain a sense of chronology, remains to be a key priority within topics studied. Teachers are aware of which specific units of work were covered during periods of home learning/key worker provision and isolation and plan accordingly. There is a particular focus on developing children’s historical skills, concepts and vocabulary as these have been identified as areas which were more challenging to deliver remotely. KS2 children in particular will work on their knowledge of how historians study the past and construct historical arguments.
Our whole history curriculum at Biggin Hill Primary School is shaped by our school's aim for all children to be happy, find a love for learning, and for them to reach their full potential through a creative and engaging curriculum. We cover all the skills and knowledge of the National Curriculum in a question-based approach to learning, supported by a clear skills and knowledge progression. We ensure that skills and knowledge are built on and referred to as the children move through the school. They are sequenced appropriately so that children reach their full potential. Our children here at Biggin Hill Primary School develop progressive historical skills of: chronological understanding; historical terms (vocabulary); range and depth of historical knowledge; interpretations of history; and historical inquiry. Children research; interpret evidence, including primary and secondary sources; and debate opposing viewpoints. We are consistent with the recommendations made by the DfE for Covid Recovery (July 2021).
In EYFS, history is taught as part of the “Understanding the World” strand of learning, with a mixture of continuous provision activities and adult-led learning. This structure continues into Year 1 before moving on to a more formal approach from Year 2 onwards.
Each unit of work begins with a pre-learning challenge. This allows pupils to reflect on their previous learning and generate questions they would like to find out the answers to over the course of the unit. It also allows teachers an opportunity to address any misconceptions and follow the children’s particular interests. Pupils will always situate their knowledge in relation to other historical periods studied, placing these on a timeline and linking their knowledge with the use of concept maps. For example, when children in Year 6 learn about the Anglo-Saxon and Viking struggle for the kingdom of England, they refer back to previous learning about invasion, and this term becomes an overarching theme. Each topic will have a main, overarching learning question with sub questions to follow throughout the topic. The aim is that by the end of the topic, the children will be able to answer the main learning question in detail.
The curriculum content is taught in a child-centered way and lessons are differentiated appropriately to provide access and challenge for all children. Children undertake a variety of different types of activities for each unit of work, paying close attention to the historical concepts, which are built on throughout the years: continuity and change; cause and consequence; similarity and difference; and significance. An example of the historical progression throughout the school is when children learn about the causes and consequences of the Great Fire of London in Year 2 and then progress their understanding of cause and consequence in Year 4 when learning about the Roman invasion of Britain on a larger scale.
In each unit of work, the children will always produce at least one piece of extended writing. This supports the children's historical learning and embeds key skills from across the curriculum.
To encourage cross-curricular learning, children complete activities for each history unit which links with foundation subjects. For example, when Year 6 children learn about the Vikings, they produce their own Viking longboat figureheads as an art activity.
Each unit’s learning is enriched by a “buzz day”. These are special days when the children have the opportunity to explore a topic in greater depth and undertake exciting activities linked to their historical learning. For example, during the Year 5 unit on the Egyptians, children partake in and enjoy a dress-up Egyptian day with the company, ‘Portals to the Past’ - a fun, absorbing and interactive activity workshop.
At the end of each unit of work, teachers assess the pupils’ progress and children complete a “Time to Shine”. This is an opportunity for children to reflect on and celebrate their learning throughout the topic. There is time built into the year to allow teachers to review any content pupils were unsure of in the summer term before moving up to their next class or secondary school. The children also complete an end of unit assessment/quiz and use a Frayer model to explore key historical vocabulary.
Classroom history lessons are supplemented by a variety of enrichment activities. These include:
- Special events and themed learning for Remembrance Day
- History assemblies
- History masterclasses for a number of Year 5 children at Charles Darwin School, taught by secondary history teachers
- School trips and in-school workshops
- Discovery homework
During the year, the children cover several big topics and therefore subsidiary questions related to the Early Years outcomes under ‘Understanding the World’. EYFS look at:
- Their personal history
- How they have changed (‘Ourselves’ topic)
- How ways of life have changed (‘People who help us’ topic)
- How the world has changed (‘Dinosaurs’ topic)
Key stage 1
Pupils should develop an awareness of the past, using common words and phrases relating to the passing of time. They should know where the people and events they study fit within a chronological framework and identify similarities and differences between ways of life in different periods. They should use a wide vocabulary of everyday historical terms. They should ask and answer questions, choosing and using parts of stories and other sources to show that they know and understand key features of events. They should understand some of the ways in which we find out about the past and identify different ways in which it is represented.
Pupils should be taught about:
- changes within living memory - where appropriate, these should be used to reveal aspects of change in national life
- events beyond living memory that are significant nationally or globally [for example, the Great Fire of London, the first aeroplane flight or events commemorated through festivals or anniversaries]
- the lives of significant individuals in the past who have contributed to national and international achievements, some should be used to compare aspects of life in different periods [for example, Elizabeth I and Queen Victoria, Christopher Columbus and Neil Armstrong, William Caxton and Tim Berners-Lee, Pieter Bruegel the Elder and LS Lowry, Rosa Parks and Emily Davison, Mary Seacole and/or Florence Nightingale and Edith Cavell]
- significant historical events, people and places in their own locality
Key stage 2
Pupils should continue to develop a chronologically secure knowledge and understanding of British, local and world history, establishing clear narratives within and across the periods they study. They should note connections, contrasts and trends over time and develop the appropriate use of historical terms. They should regularly address and sometimes devise historically valid questions about change, cause, similarity and difference, and significance. They should construct informed responses that involve thoughtful selection and organisation of relevant historical information. They should understand how our knowledge of the past is constructed from a range of sources. In planning to ensure the progression described above through teaching the British, local and world history outlined below, teachers should combine overview and depth studies to help pupils understand both the long arc of development and the complexity of specific aspects of the content.
Pupils should be taught about:
- changes in Britain from the Stone Age to the Iron Age
- the Roman Empire and its impact on Britain's settlement by Anglo-Saxons and Scots
- the Viking and Anglo-Saxon struggle for the Kingdom of England to the time of Edward the Confessor
- a local history study
- a study of an aspect or theme in British history that extends pupils' chronological knowledge beyond 1066
- the achievements of the earliest civilizations - an overview of where and when the first civilizations appeared and a depth study of one of the following: Ancient Sumer, The Indus Valley, Ancient Egypt, The Shang Dynasty of Ancient China
- Ancient Greece - a study of Greek life and achievements and their influence on the western world
- a non-European society that provides contrasts with British history - one study chosen from: early Islamic civilization, including a study of Baghdad c. AD 900; Mayan civilization c. AD 900; Benin (West Africa) c. AD 900-1300