Curriculum Leaders

Mr J Johnson


‘A people without knowledge of their past history, origin and culture is like a tree without roots.’  Marcus Garvey 

‘Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it.’  George Santayana 

History is nothing but gossip about the past, with the hope that it might be true.”  Gore Vidal 

What becomes history? Why does it become history? Why are we learning about this? The intention of the history curriculum within Hadrian Learning Trust is to make our pupils and students curious about the past; to engage with its complexities and to understand that the past is not black and white, right, or wrong – it is about understanding human nature and the many different perspectives, viewpoints, and actions of those in the past. We want to enable our students to think critically about the past; to understand the role and power of individuals in changing the course of history, to understand their motivations and to appreciate that there is always another side to the story. Our intention is to enable our pupils and students to develop the key skills of a historian – analysing and evaluating differing interpretations of the past, understanding the causes and consequences of events and what makes an event or an individual significant in history. We want our pupils and students to become confident in developing their own opinions and using a wide range of evidence and subject specific language to support their arguments.  

Our history curriculum takes our pupils and students on a journey from ancient civilizations to the modern day; allowing them to develop a knowledge and understanding of the country in which they live and its changing role within the world. We are passionate about our pupils and students being able to use their study of the past to connect to the present day to allow them to think critically about what is going on around them and how they can use their understanding of the past to help to shape the future. 

The history department is committed to increasing the cultural capital of our pupils and students through opening the doors to the past to let them experience first-hand the lives of various societies; from diverse groups of people. We are passionate about our curriculum giving voices to different people and groups within society so that pupils and students understand how diverse and multicultural our past is and the importance that this diversity has played in shaping our country. 

We hope that the pupils and students who study history across Hadrian Learning Trust, whether they continue to study it at KS4 or KS5, can gain a rich understanding of the past, become engaged with the society in which they live and use the curiosity they have, to help shape our future. We want our pupils and students to be able to apply their disciplinary thinking from history to all walks of life; to help them probe and question the validity of arguments, to challenge the dominant sources of information in our society and above all to be independent thinkers. 


A fundamental approach to learning in history is based on the skill of questioning. We believe strongly in pupils developing an enquiring mind. To appreciate aspects of the past, present and future, pupils should be self-reflecting and curious. People may think that history is solely focused on studying the past. However, our history curriculum is designed to give pupils the chance to consider how the present day is forging tomorrow’s history. Through the application of a range of teaching and learning activities pupils will secure an extensive knowledge of the periods of history being studied. 

Over Key Stage 2 and Key Stage 3 pupils will develop their substantive knowledge of history, focussing on individuals, events, periods, and whole civilizations. Pupils will develop their disciplinary thinking to engage in historical debate and ask challenging questions of the past. Pupils will focus on chronology and the story of the past, whilst also assessing change and continuity to help understand why the world is the way it is. They will understand the causes of key events in history whilst also identifying the consequences that followed. Pupils will challenge themselves to assess historical significance by looking at the impact of individuals but also the importance of key events throughout history. Underpinning all thinking will be the use of historical evidence. Pupils will develop their ability to infer key information from sources, analyse the provenance of sources and even question the usefulness of the sources themselves. 

In history, great emphasis is placed on developing and expanding pupils’ disciplinary literacy and how this can be applied across the curriculum. Pupils are expected to take pride in their own learning, producing high quality work; which demonstrates their engagement within the classroom. Ultimately, we endeavour to prepare all our budding historians to learn how to apply their knowledge and skills in a variety of ways. 


In year 5 history, pupils will start of their HMS History journey by studying Ancient Egypt in order to provide pupils with the opportunity to explore an ancient civilisation. This unit focuses on ‘Use of evidence’ and pupils are provided with the opportunity to Use evidence (range of sources) to create own historical narrative of the topic being studied. In the second term, pupils will study The Mayan Civilization.  In this unit pupils learn about the Mayan Civilization circa 200 AD- 1600 AD. They will discover who the Mayans were, the part of the world they occupied and the impact their civilization has had on the world. Pupils will develop their inference skills by continually working with both primary and secondary evidence to also reach conclusions and form their own opinion. Pupils will develop understanding of subject specific language and literacy and begin to use them to demonstrate their own understanding of learning. This wider world topic will provide comparative opportunities with Britain at the time when the Vikings and Anglo Saxons unit is studied in year 6. We finish year 5 Explore with a study of ‘Crime and Punishment’. This unit provides a great foundation for future school studies in religious studies, PSHE, and Key Stage 3 History. We capitalise, by way of a school visit, the fantastic local facility of Hexham Gaol to help pupils discover more about crime in the Tyne Valley. Pupils will gain different historical perspectives using sources that are exhibited. A key focus of year 5 is chronology and the sequencing of a broad range of units allows pupils to see that history is complex and diverse. 

We start year 6 by exploring the historical event of World War 2. This unit provides excellent opportunities to strengthen pupils’ historical skills. A particular focus in placed on the effective use of diverse sources. We provide pupils with the chance to experience sources from the Northumberland Archives. We want pupils to refine their ability to talk like a historian and understand the cultural and economic benefits of studying history. During the Second term pupils in year 6 study the Anglo-Saxons and Vikings in Britain. This unit is taught simultaneously alongside the Scandinavia topic in geography. This therefore combines the geographical study of a European region and its respective civilisation to help pupils make cross-curricula links. During term 2 pupils are given the opportunity to develop their understanding of their local history by studying ‘The Border Reivers’. Pupils are able to apply the knowledge and disciplinary literacy gained in the Crime and Punishment unit in year 5, through the study of local history. Pupils are able to dive into their local roots and understand the significance of the history that is around them.  


History is broadly speaking taught in chronological order to help pupils appreciate the different historical periods. In year 7, our pupils build upon their studies of life in Britain during Anglo Saxon and Viking times commencing with the change established by The Norman Conquest. The Middle Ages are a focus for historical study in year 7, with pupils assessing the changing power of Kings in the Middle Ages, by focussing on the evolving roles of the Church, State and Society. Pupils end year 7 with a study of the Reformation, before concluding year7 with a unit looking at The English Civil War. In year 8 we begin our historical studies with a thematic study of persecution through the topic of the Slave Trade. We believe it is essential to teach our pupils the importance of British history, in the context of colonialism, as well as the growth of what was the British Empire. This study will lay foundations for historical studies at high school when pupils explore British Empire and Windrush generation. We also allow pupils to study the effect and impacts of The Industrial Revolution and how The Slave Trade influenced the British economies of the past. As pupils approach the end of year 8, we provide them with the opportunity to synthesise acquired knowledge. Our final unit – The French Revolution – has a complex historical context. Prior to this unit of study, pupils explore The Industrial Revolution. As pupils progress on to history at high school, they will study other revolutions including The Russian Revolution, the intention being that pupils will be able to apply their historical skills to explore underlying themes and perspectives. 


To gauge whether our curriculum is delivering the goods for our pupils, we use on-going formative assessment, in the form of teacher feedback and pupil responses. Throughout the year, teachers provide detailed feedback to pupils, ensuring that the actions taken by the teacher is developing the pupil as an historian. Pupils will be assessed using both formative and summative assessment at appropriate points in the year; we do not however expect these to be inherently high stakes in nature. A pupil’s performance in these assessments will reflect what knowledge they have retained and are able to recall, along with the application of the disciplinary thinking they have developed. The data collected from the various assessments helps to inform next steps for potential intervention and or revisiting of certain aspects of the curriculum. Teachers will review a pupil’s performance to help identify areas of specific improvement. The combination of formative and summative assessment helps inform a child’s ‘working at grade’ which will be reported to parents/carers. 

Our approach to assessment provides a framework to check a pupil’s performance at key points to help provide meaningful data. Performance is however different from learning. We strongly believe that assessment is used to suggest what pupils have learned (or what they are able to remember). All assessments will be taken from a wide content range. Incremental quizzes throughout units of learning embed the philosophy of ‘testing to teach’ and not ‘teach to the test.’ Quizzes will also allow teachers to identify and demystify potential misconceptions. 


For a budding historian reading and literacy is key. The curriculum across Key Stage 2 and Key Stage 3 has been designed and shaped in a way in which puts reading and literacy at the forefront of learning. Pupils are provided with the opportunity to develop their subject specific vocabulary through the curriculum. Pupils build their own vocabulary banks across their time at the Middle School and are expected to use their increasing vocabulary within their writing. Each lesson has three carefully selected ‘buzzwords’ that pupils are then able to define and revisit across their learning in history. 

History as a subject is rich in written sources and over time pupils can develop their ability to infer, interpret and understand written history. Pupil’s complete VIPERS tasks once a unit in which they are required to break down a source focussing on: 

The VIPERS tasks are an essential part of historical learning but also aid in developing pupils reading and literacy. The Hexham Middle School Library is also stocked full of historical reading, from Non-fiction texts to historical fiction, we have carefully selected a range of appropriate reading for all pupils to help further their interest in and understanding of the past. 

Personal Development

History is a subject that is rich in cultural capital opportunities, and we aim to provide all pupils with a variety of enrichment activities that allow for this. It is important that pupils experience history not just in the classroom but out in the world as well. With a variety of local visits across the year groups pupils are able to understand the role of history in the world around them. It is also important that pupils are able to engage in discussion with individuals who have stories to tell, and we therefore aim to get regular visitors into to school to discuss ‘their history’.  

History as a subject is a gateway to many careers. We believe it is important that pupils are aware of the career opportunities that the subject provides, and we therefore teach not only how to be an historian but also what an historian can be. Visitors to the school with backgrounds in history discuss the importance of the subject and the skills that are developed within it. 

Curriculum Sequence

Useful Links/Resources

To aid learning outside the classroom, the library at HMS possesses an array of history-based reading which can be used for home learning and home learning-based projects. Pupils, through their school 360 home page can also access ‘Q-files’ and ‘DK find out’, online pupil friendly encyclopaedias full of information to help further their learning of humanities and other subjects.  


All learners with additional needs access a broad and rich classroom experience with a well-planned curriculum both within and beyond the classroom. Pupils with additional needs are enabled to achieve well by:

      • High quality planning, teaching and learning across the curriculum.
      • Adaptations made in teaching and learning to ensure all pupils succeed and learn well. 
      • Staff responding to learners’ needs and adapting teaching as a result. 
      • Teaching staff planning and delivering a wide range of high-quality interventions and support sessions. 
      • High-quality ‘Pupil Profiles’ which ensure staff know each child as an individual, including how to support their learning. 
      • Where appropriate, an ‘Individual Education Plan’ with bespoke and individualised targets is implemented, and regularly reviewed. 
      • For learners with an ‘Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP)’, a wide range of individualised targets and support strategies are implemented in a multi-agency approach. 
      • Coordinating our ambitious support in school alongside a multi-agency approach to ensure that all pupils achieve their full potential. 

As part of our implementation model – the ’10 Elements of Great Teaching’ – our teaching and support staff will enable pupils with additional needs to thrive by: 

      • Planning well-sequenced lessons which build progressively in small steps. 
      • Implementing the school’s lesson design principles so that teachers gradually handover the learning through guided and independent practice. 
      • Maintaining a calm, focused, inclusive and positive environment for learning in all classrooms. 
      • Implementing a wide range of strategies to empower pupils to remember more over time and to check that this is the case. 
      • Using metacognitive strategies to encourage self-regulation and to plan, monitor and evaluate learning. 
      • Delivering expectations and instructions clearly in small steps. 
      • Teaching subject-specific vocabulary (tier 3), alongside tier 2 vocabulary, and ensuring that it is used and retained. 
      • Using a wide range of teaching resources and materials to support all learners including visual and audio resources. 
      • Using high-quality modelling in lessons through the ‘I do, we do, you do’ approach. 
      • Using a wide range of scaffolds to support learning including writing frames, planning structures, word processing. 
      • Providing high-quality worked examples which narrate the learning, steps and processes so that pupils develop their independence of learning. 
      • Using organisers such as ‘Knowledge Organisers’, diagrams, planning structures and writing frames to support pupils’ learning. 
      • Allowing pupils to record their ideas in a range of ways including, where necessary, by using online resources and visual/audio support. 
      • Providing word lists/vocabulary banks to support pupils’ access to learning. 
      • Using sentence stems to promote positive talk and discussion. 
      • Using flexible groupings in the classroom so that pupils can learn alongside and from each other. 
      • Implementing dyslexia-friendly approach to reading and writing tasks. 
      • Modelling thinking out loud strategies across the curriculum. 
      • Using a wide range of technologies including online resources, voice recording and visualisers to model worked examples.