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At St Dunstan’s, we aim to inspire pupils to be curious and creative thinkers who develop a complex knowledge of local and national history and the history of the wider world. We want children to develop the confidence to think critically, ask questions, and be able to explain and analyse historical evidence.

We aim to build awareness of significant events and individuals in global, British and local history and recognise how things have changed. History will support children to appreciate the complexity of people’s lives, the diversity of societies and the relationships between different groups. Studying History allows children to appreciate the many reasons why people may behave the way they do, supporting children to develop empathy for others while providing an opportunity to learn from humankind's past mistakes. Our History curriculum aims to support pupils in building their understanding of chronology in each phase, making connections over periods of time and developing a chronologically-secure knowledge of History.

We hope to develop children’s understanding of how historians study the past and construct accounts and the skills to carry out their own historical enquiries. To prepare children for their future learning in History, children are introduced to key substantive concepts, including power, invasion, settlement and migration, empire, civilisation, religion, trade, achievements of humankind, society and culture.

To meet the aims of the National Curriculum for History and in response to the Ofsted Research Review into History, we have identified the following key strands:



Our History curriculum emphasises the importance of historical knowledge being shaped by disciplinary approaches, as shown in the diagram above. These strands are interwoven through all our History units to create engaging and enriching learning experiences which allow the children to investigate history as historians do. Each six-lesson unit will focus on chronology to allow children to explore the place in the time of the period they are studying and make comparisons in other parts of the world. Pupils will develop their awareness of the past in Key Stage 1 and know where people and events fit chronologically. This will support children in building a ‘mental timeline’ they can refer to throughout their learning in Key Stage 2 and identifying connections, contrasts and trends over time.

Units are organised around an enquiry-based question, and children are encouraged to follow the enquiry cycle (Question, Investigate, Interpret, Evaluate and conclude, Communicate) when answering historical questions.


Our History curriculum develops the following key disciplinary concepts:

  • Change and continuity.
  • Cause and consequence.
  • Similarities and differences.
  • Historical significance.
  • Historical interpretations.
  • Sources of evidence

These concepts will be encountered in different contexts while studying local, British and world history. Accordingly, children will have varied opportunities to learn how historians use these skills to analyse the past and make judgements. They will confidently develop and use their own historical skill set. As children progress through school, they will create their own historical enquiries to study using sources and the skills they have developed. Substantive concepts, such as power, trade, invasion and settlement, are introduced in Key Stage 1, clearly identified in Lower key stage 2 and revisited in Upper key stage 2, allowing knowledge of these key concepts to grow. These concepts are returned to in different contexts, meaning that pupils begin to develop an understanding of these abstract themes, which are crucial to their future learning in History.

The History curriculum at St Dunstan’s follows a well-sequenced spiral curriculum model where previous skills and knowledge are returned to and built upon. For example, children progress by developing their knowledge and understanding of substantive and disciplinary concepts by experiencing them in a range of historical contexts and periods.

History in Action videos explain the careers and work of those in history and heritage-related fields. Historians, archivists, archaeologists, museum curators, teachers and heritage experts discuss their love of history, how they became interested in the subject, how they got into their jobs and what their jobs involve.

Lessons are designed to be varied, engaging and hands-on, allowing children to experience the different aspects of a historical enquiry. In each lesson, children will participate in activities involving disciplinary and substantive concepts, developing their knowledge and understanding of Britain’s role in the past and that of the wider world. Children will develop their knowledge of concepts, chronology, and in-depth knowledge of the studied context.

Differentiated guidance is available for every lesson to ensure that all pupils can access lessons, and opportunities to stretch pupils’ learning are available when required. Knowledge organisers for each unit support pupils in building a foundation of factual knowledge by encouraging recall of key facts, concepts and vocabulary. Each unit of lessons focuses on the key subject knowledge needed to deliver the curriculum, making links with prior learning and identifying possible misconceptions.

At St Dunstan’s, our foundation subjects follow a 2-year cycle and lessons are taught in ‘blocks’ – we believe our blocking of foundation subjects allows children to fully immerse themselves in the subject, deepening and embedding learning and understanding of the subject.


The impact of History at St Dunstan’s is regularly monitored through formative and summative assessment opportunities. Each lesson includes guidance to support teachers in assessing pupils against the learning objectives. Furthermore, each unit has a skill catcher and knowledge assessment quiz, which can be used at the end of the unit to provide a summative assessment.

At the end of Key Stage 2, pupils should leave school equipped with various skills to succeed in their secondary education. They will be enquiring about learners who ask questions and can suggest where to find the evidence to answer them. They will be critical and analytical thinkers who can make informed and balanced judgements based on their knowledge of the past.

The expected impact of our History curriculum is that children will:

  • Know and understand the history of Britain, how people’s lives have shaped this nation and how Britain has influenced and been influenced by the wider world.
  • Develop an understanding of the history of the wider world, including ancient civilisations, empires, non-European societies and the achievements of humankind.
  • Develop a historically-grounded understanding of substantive concepts - power, invasion, settlement and migration, civilisation, religion, trade, and achievements of humankind and society.
  • Form historical arguments based on cause and effect, consequence, continuity and change, and similarity and differences.
  • Have an appreciation for significant individuals, inventions and events that have impacted our world both in history and from the present day.
  • Understand how historians learn about the past and construct accounts.
  • Ask historically-valid questions through an enquiry approach to learning to create structured accounts.
  • Explain how and why interpretations of the past have been constructed using evidence.
  • Make connections between historical concepts and timescales.
  • Meet the end-of-key stage expectations outlined in the National Curriculum for History.