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Purpose of Study


A high-quality history education will help pupils gain a coherent knowledge and understanding of Britain’s past and that of the wider world. It should inspire pupils’ curiosity to know more about the past. Teaching should equip pupils to ask perceptive questions, think critically, weigh evidence, sift arguments, and develop perspective and judgement. History helps pupils to understand the complexity of people’s lives, the process of change, the diversity of societies and relationships between different groups, as well as their own identity and the challenges of their time.





The national curriculum for history aims to ensure that all pupils:

  • know and understand the history of these islands as a coherent, chronological narrative, from the earliest times to the present day: how people’s lives have shaped this nation and how Britain has influenced and been influenced by the wider world
  • know and understand significant aspects of the history of the wider world: the nature of ancient civilisations; the expansion and dissolution of empires; characteristic features of past non-European societies; achievements and follies of mankind
  • gain and deploy a historically grounded understanding of abstract terms such as ‘empire’, ‘civilisation’, ‘parliament’ and ‘peasantry’
  • understand historical concepts such as continuity and change, cause and consequence, similarity, difference and significance, and use them to make connections, draw contrasts, analyse trends, frame historically-valid questions and create their own structured accounts, including written narratives and analyses
  • understand the methods of historical enquiry, including how evidence is used rigorously to make historical claims, and discern how and why contrasting arguments and interpretations of the past have been constructed
  • gain historical perspective by placing their growing knowledge into different contexts, understanding the connections between local, regional, national and international history; between cultural, economic, military, political, religious and social history; and between short- and long-term timescales.



History at Middleton


Throughout each year group, children will focus on four ‘threshold concepts’. These are the big ideas that underpin the subject.


The four threshold concepts in history are:


Investigate and interpret the past –

This concept involves recognising that our understanding of the past comes from an interpretation of the available evidence.


• Build an overview of world history –

This concept involves an appreciation of the characteristic features of the past and that these features are similar and different across time periods, and an understanding that life is different for different sections of society.


• Understand chronology –

This concept involves an understanding of how to chart the passing of time and how some aspects of history happened at similar times in different places.


Communicate historically –

This concept involves using historical vocabulary and techniques to convey information about the past.





In Key Stage 1, children cover the four threshold concepts through the study of a range of key historical events and figures.





In Key Stage 2, children will cover the following topics:






Rather than covering one topic at a time, children will focus on key knowledge categories. Interleaving helps students to discriminate between topics and aids long-term retention. Retrieval of previously learned content is frequent and regular, which increases both storage and retrieval strength.


Below are the 10 key knowledge categories that children will study in each year group:


Settlements - Throughout history people have organised themselves into settlements.

Aspects of knowledge that may be included in this category are:


• homes (including the types of materials used and construction techniques)

• sanitation

• heating

• public facilities (e.g. libraries, bath houses)

• monuments and memorials

• gathering places (e.g. citadels, amphitheatres, town squares)

• the nature of a settlement (e.g. villages, towns, cities)

• defences

• important features (e.g. proximity to a river or sea port).



Beliefs - Beliefs often form the basis for day-to-day routines and practices. By organising knowledgeinto belief systems, students can begin to understand why people acted as they did. Aspects of knowledge that may be included in this category are:


• pagan practices

• organised religions

• key events (e.g. sacrifice)

• ideologies

• symbols.



Cultures and Pastimes - Evidence of culture and pastimes exists from some of the earliest civilisations. Aspects of knowledge that may be included in this category are:


• artworks

• artists and artisans

• jewellery

• architecture and architects

• games

• sports

• plays and theatre

• music and instruments

• great thinkers and big ideas (e.g. the Enlightenment)



Location - It is a common misconception that events or periods in history were widespread or even global. For example, we sometimes think that the Romans ruled the whole world until the Anglo-Saxons came along to oust them, followed by the Vikings. Knowing that history involves both time and place is important in forming meaningful knowledge. Aspects of knowledge that may be included in this category are:


• modern geographical locations (e.g. Iran)

• historical geographical locations (e.g. Mesopotamia)

• multiple locations, including the associated terminology (e.g. empire, commonwealth, union)

• movement and its associated terminology (e.g. migration, immigration, invasion, exploration, conquest).



Main Events - History is often thought of in terms of events and when they took place. Aspects of knowledge that may be included in this category are:


• key ‘stories’ and events

• dates and durations

• key figures

• the changes (or continuity) brought about by events (including achievements and legacies)

• significant events that happened elsewhere at the same or a similar time

(e.g. the Iron Age in Western Europe was at a similar time to the birth of Christ).



Food and Farming - How people throughout history have found food to sustain themselves is an important part of historical knowledge. Aspects of knowledge that may be included in this category are:


• main food groups (e.g. grains, fish)

• popular foods and dishes

• methods of collection (e.g. hunter-gatherers, farming)

• important technological breakthroughs (e.g. plough – for cultivating land, shaduf – for irrigation)

• use of animals

• trade in foods and spices.



Travel and Exploration - How people have travelled, and how far they have travelled, has developed dramatically throughout history. Aspects of knowledge that may be included in this category are:


• types of transport and how they were powered (e.g. foot and animals)

• technological advancements and their pioneers

• breakthrough events (e.g. the Moon landings)

• reasons for travel (e.g. to explore, conquer, trade, survive)

• trade routes

• holidays and how they have changed because of transport.



Conflicts - Conflict has affected human behaviour throughout history.

Aspects of knowledge that may be included in this category are:


• historic events

• reasons for conflict (e.g. invasions)

• weapons

• defences

• resistance

• tactics

• types of conflict (e.g. battles, wars)

• resolutions to conflicts.



Society - Society is the way that groups organise themselves.

Aspects of knowledge that may be included in this category are:

• life for different sections of society (e.g. rich and poor, men and women,

adults and children, urban and rural)

• education

• crime and punishment

• health and medicine

• clothing

• social organisation (e.g. nation states, systems of government).



Artefacts - Evidence, both first hand (primary) and interpretations (secondary) helps historians to understand what happened in the past. Artefacts, a form of first-hand evidence, are the everyday objects left behind that act as clues as to what life in the past may have been like. Aspects of knowledge that may be included in this category are:


• tools

• ornaments

• household items

• coins

• diaries

• historical accounts

• newspaper reports.