As a humanities-based subject, history falls under a family of subjects on the curriculum with a vision to ‘Explore the past, consider the present and discover the future’. By the very nature of the subject’s name, we intend our pupils to ‘travel through the learning’ with an inquiring mind. On this journey we want our pupils to have many opportunities to discuss what they are learning with others; this develops their oracy and ultimately the ability to talk like budding historian.
As a historian, we expect our Key Stage 3 pupils to gain knowledge and experience: being able to investigate and interpret the past; building an overview of world history; understanding the concept and implications of chronology; and being able to communicate historically. Pupils will have the opportunity to build upon learning that took place in their Explore studies in Key Stage 2. More detailed information is set out in our Age Related Expectations (AREs) and key performance indicators document. Our curriculum has been developed and aligned with other middle schools in the Hexham Partnership. Our intention is to adequately prepare pupils for the study of history at Key Stage 4.
The content of our curriculum is taught in discrete units of learning (see Sequence of Learning below), which meets an entitlement as outlined in the national curriculum for history.
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, we need pupils to be self-reflecting and curious. People may think that history is solely focused on studying the past. We intend our implementation of the history curriculum to give pupils the chance to consider how the present day is forging tomorrow’s history. Through the application of targeted questioning in lessons, to check for an in-depth understanding, by both teacher and pupil, gains in securing knowledge can be maximised.
In a history classroom, focused talk will be evident in abundance. A strong framework for oracy and disciplinary literacy is vital to enable our pupils to think and talk like historians.
We place great emphasis on expanding a pupil’s subject-specific word hoard, applying this literacy in a range of different contexts across the school. Pupils are expected to take pride in their own learning, producing quality artefacts; this will be demonstrated by their engagement with classroom activities as well as their written outcomes. Ultimately, we endeavour to prepare all of our budding historians to learn how to apply their knowledge in a variety of ways.
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 culminating in aspects of the Renaissance and Age of Discovery. In year 8 we begin our historical studies with a thematic study of persecution (across historical periods, including the Holocaust). Links with the unit can be found with the unit on 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 will 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.
Key summative assessment will first take place at the end of Spring Half term 1 which is half way through the academic year. Teachers will help prepare pupils for this summative assessment by providing quality first teaching principles in every lesson. Summative assessments will comprise multiple choice questions and short answer responses (which is typical of questions encountered in GCSE examination papers). Declarative, domain-specific knowledge and procedural concepts will also be assessed. In history pupils will be exposed to various sources of information to help them to apply their understanding of different key concepts including: cause and consequence, continuity and change, significance, historical enquiry and perspectives. The interim assessment will be used alongside a teacher’s formative assessment and mini-topic quizzes to support a pupil’s working at grade (WAG). A pupil’s progress will be reported at the end of the spring half term. Another summative assessment will take place before the end of summer term 2. This assessment will be similar in nature, with some previous content revisited and new historical concepts explored. Pupils will receive feedback on specific aspects of the summative assessment to help inform pupil response and action. At the end of each year, pupils will know what their areas of strength and development are.
Pupils and staff will refer to Age Related Expectations (AREs) to help provide formative assessment and targeted feedback. To help support a pupil’s metacognition in geography, we share AREs and key performance indicators.
It is important to recognise that the process of learning is tacit – it is invisible! 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’. Mini-tests will help to demystify misconceptions.