Subject Leader: Miss Miller

Curriculum Champions: Rosie, William, Oliver & Rosie

What is it like to study History at Witham St Hughs Academy?

Learning history at Witham St Hughs Academy gives pupils a chance to ask questions and gain an understanding about the world before they were a part of it. Lessons are carefully planned and delivered to ensure learning experiences are stimulating and spark interest, allowing children to want to learn about the past and its impact on how they live today. Children are exposed to a wide breadth of significant and influential events from local, national and international history, which is deepened and built upon as they progress through the school. In order to engage our young learners, lessons are designed to help pupils step back in time and imagine what life was like in a given period. Pupils have opportunities to explore and discuss artefacts, access online resources and take part in experience day workshops provided by external agencies – all focused on bringing the past back to life! They will also develop a wide range of historical skills such as understanding the causes and consequences of historical events and how to make thoughtful suggestions about how things can be changed for a better future!

How is History planned?

History lessons at Witham St Hughs Academy are designed to answer a ‘big’ question, a question that we are aiming to be able to answer by the end of a unit. Lessons are planned thoughtfully to ensure children learn key facts and concepts – alongside developing skills such as chronological understanding, an ability to compare and contrast, evaluation of historical evidence and an understanding of impact. Lessons are structured to help children initially understand history through making links to their own experiences and events from within their living memory. Each year, the topics we learn about step further back in time, giving children a rich exposure to a range of significant events and to give children the ability to compare life in different periods. For example, Year 2 pupils learn about the moon landing and what life was like during this time, and Year 4 pupils learn about Ancient Greece. Our curriculum is rooted in both the National Curriculum requirements for history, as well as information published by the Historical Association, with a particular focus on what constitutes excellent practice in primary history. We are also very lucky to have a history specialist, Stuart Tiffany, who helps teachers devise engaging and exciting lessons that inspire a curiosity about the past.

How is History taught at Witham St Hughs Academy?

A key part of our history learning, is ensuring that children grasp a good understanding of chronology, and where events fit into the wider picture of the past. In classrooms, there are timelines which are referred to regularly in both history and wider curriculum lessons, when mentioning an event or individual from the past. When being introduced to a new ‘big’ question for a unit, children can view our whole school timeline to understand what point in history they are learning about, helping them to make vital comparisons and conclusions. As much as possible, we try to bring historical learning to life by using real artefacts in lessons and having ‘experience’ days for our topics, where we often have specialist visitors come into school and deliver workshops with a range of resources. Historical concepts, such as cause and consequence, and change and continuity, are introduced to our pupils through flashcards in each lesson. This allows our learners to become better exposed to historical vocabulary and subsequently be able to explain their understanding through the concepts outlined in the national curriculum.  

Whilst ‘Writing like a Historian’ will form a part of history learning, teachers recognise that historical understanding should not be assessed through literacy ability and literacy should not be a barrier to achievement in history. Witham St Hughs Academy has high aspirations for all learners within history, and skilled teacher adaptation allows all learners to access the curriculum and stretch and challenge the most able.  A vital part of our lessons is the recap aspect at the start, where teachers check if previously taught concepts have been remembered. This helps pupils to learn new information whilst retaining prior knowledge, helping facts to move to their long-term memory.

Where can I see History around school?

History can be seen from the moment you enter the school building with our whole school timeline, taking up the whole distance of our school corridor! All classrooms are located down our central corridor and children are able to access the school timeline, every day. Inside our classrooms, there are learning journeys for our units of learning and topic specific timelines which teachers add to and refer to in lessons throughout the academic year. Classroom displays are effectively designed to showcase knowledge in classrooms. They include key historical concept flashcards, examples of pupils’ hard-work in lessons, topic related fiction and non-fiction texts, and topic specific vocabulary to support learning.