History has the word ‘story’ in it for a reason - it is a continuous narrative of the past of humanity. However, history is also more than just a series of known facts. It is knowledge about events and periods, significance and change, and how they place within the overall narrative of humanity. Finally, history is about how we know about the past; the ability to interrogate sources and take meaning from what has happened by using chronology to solve mysteries of the time before our own.
“History is more than just the past itself but rather the process of finding out about the past” (S.Tiffany, 2023)
At Heathfield we use historical enquiry as the basis of our history curriculum. This means that each lesson in a sequence of lessons has a direct focus in the form of an enquiry question which, by the end of the sequence of lessons, children will be able to answer. This approach ensures that both substantive and disciplinary knowledge is taught as well as delivering a narrative of a historical period or event or lives of significant individual(s) which furthers children’s understanding of history.
At the beginning of each unit, time is spent giving children an understanding of the period/event from the past which will be studied – teachers create the context, they ‘build the world’. This provides an effective back drop to enhance understanding and to reduce historical misconceptions such as anachronism when children are learning about a topic. During this time we consider several elements of historical learning:
CHRONOLOGY History is a narrative subject driven by rich and varied stories which requires an understanding of the ‘when’ of events taking place. Our history curriculum is designed to build pupils understanding of sequencing, scale, interval, duration and concurrence in relation to chronology. This is important so that pupils are able to organise events and make connections across their historical learning and help to avoid pupils seeing events as standing alone in time. Chronology is explicitly taught at Heathfield with direct instruction used to introduce these concepts.
GEOGRAPHICAL LINKS Physical geography and human development are interwoven. Our curriculum is designed to acknowledge the historical significance of geographical elements such as rivers, mountains or distance. Where it will aide pupils understanding this is deliberately linked to our geography curriculum.
SOURCES These are our evidence of past historical events. Our curriculum regularly gives pupils opportunities to interrogate, question or experience carefully chosen sources which help further the historical narrative and build towards answering this historical enquiry. We include a wide range of both physical and digital sources and build pupils source work skills over time so that they are able to extract meaning from and critically explore sources to help build their understanding.
ANSWERING THE ENQUIRY Once pupils have acquired the deliberately planned substantive and disciplinary knowledge within the history unit, time is spent answering the historical enquiry question. This gives opportunity for pupils to showcase their learning over the course of the unit. Over the course of the year pupils share their answers to the enquiry question with other pupils, parents and governors at our history ‘Showcase’ events.