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History at St Robert Bellarmine
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.
At St Robert Bellarmine, we believe that high-quality history lessons inspire children to want to know more about the past and to think as and be historians. We plan our history curriculum in line with the aims of the National Curriculum and believe that a high-quality history education will inspire in our pupils a curiosity and fascination about Britain’s past and that of the wider world. Teaching in this school is aimed at giving all pupils a broad, in-depth knowledge while also allowing them the opportunity to develop, master and deepen key historical skills.
History fires children's curiosity about the past, the world in which they are now living in and how it has been shaped by the people and events before them. At St Robert Bellarmine, we have planned our history curriculum to ensure it is fully inclusive to every child. By linking learning to a range of topics, children have opportunities to investigate and interpret the past, understand chronology, build an overview of Britain’s past as well as that of the wider world, and to be able to communicate historically. Children will develop a chronological framework for their knowledge of significant events and people; what previous societies were like; and how their beliefs and values influenced their lives. They will see the diversity of the human experience and come to understand more about themselves as individuals and as part of a wider society.
The curriculum is designed to develop knowledge and skills that are progressive, as well as transferable, throughout their time here and also to their further education and beyond. In ensuring high standards of teaching and learning in history, we implement a curriculum that is progressive throughout the whole school. We work hard to ensure that learning is built upon each year, to give our children the opportunity to continually progress in history. We intend to provide all children, regardless of ethnic origin, gender, class aptitude or disability, with a broad and balanced history curriculum.
History at St Robert Bellarmine is taught in blocks throughout the year, so that children can achieve a depth of understanding in their learning. Teachers have identified the key knowledge and skills of each topic and consideration has been given to ensure progression across topics throughout each year group and across every child’s journey from EYFS to Year 6. We teach through the use of threshold concepts to ensure links can be made as children study different areas of the National Curriculum.
At the beginning of each topic, children have opportunities to engage in prelearning activities to allow them to begin to develop their own curiosity surrounding a particular topic. They also have opportunities to discuss what they already know. This informs the programme of study and also ensures that lessons are relevant and take account of children’s different starting points. Our children are provided with the knowledge they need at the beginning of a new topic and have opportunities to continually refer back to this throughout the year. In line with findings from cognitive load theory (Baddeley & Hitch, 1974; Baddeley, 1986; Rosenshine, 2012; Sweller, 1988) lessons are chunked into small sessions of explicit teaching followed by regular opportunities for all children to think, apply and practise key historical skills and knowledge. We use a range of strategies and techniques to ensure our children are pushed to reach their full potential such as knowledge organisers, low stakes quizzes, prelearning home tasks to encourage discussion surrounding a topic at home and the use of open-ended questions to give children the opportunity to deepen their understanding. Using knowledge organisers supports our children in their understanding of each area of learning. It also gives them the opportunity to refer back to their previous linked learning. Over the course of the years, these knowledge organisers ensure that all pupils become ‘culturally literate’ (Hirsch, 1987) and have the opportunity to engage in ‘powerful knowledge’ (Young, 2013). The knowledge organiser acts as a planning, teaching and assessment tool. It provides complete clarity to leaders, teachers, pupils and parents about what is expected to be learnt and remembered by the end of the lesson and the unit and in the long term. We utilise low stakes quizzes at different stages in each of our topics. Low-stakes quizzes are efficient, effective and motivating for pupils, whilst providing teachers with vital information about what pupils have misunderstood, and/or what they are struggling to remember. The benefit of retrieval practice is one of the most robust findings in cognitive psychology (Roediger & Karpicke, 2006; Storm, Bjork & Storm, 2010) and we are keen to use this proven research to support our children in the long-term retention of new knowledge.
At St Robert Bellarmine History learning is loved by teachers and pupils across school. Teachers have high expectations as well as children and they strive to reach their full potential with confidence. The impact and measure of this is to ensure that children at St Robert Bellarmine are equipped with historical skills and knowledge that will enable them to be better equipped and ready for the wider world. We aim to develop children with essential characteristics to help them become historians; excellent knowledge and understanding of people, events and contexts from a range of historical periods, including significant events in Britain’s past. Children have the ability to think critically about history and communicate ideas confidently to a range of audiences, the ability to support, evaluate and challenge their own and others’ views using historical evidence from a range of sources. They have a respect for historical evidence and the ability to make critical use of it to support their learning.
Assessment is crucial in improving learning. Formative assessment is used regularly to inform teachers of ongoing progress and allows adjustments to be made that reflect the learning needs of all children in our school. Feedback is continually given to children which leads to better outcomes in history. In line with our school assessment policy, summative assessment in the form of teacher assessment is carried out at the end of each topic to inform the overall progress made by each child on a yearly basis.
We want the children to have thoroughly enjoyed learning about history, therefore encouraging them to undertake new life experiences now and in the future and be able to understand the part they play in it. All children in the school will be able to communicate confidently about their history learning, skills and knowledge.