What is History?

'History, the study of the past, is all around us; we are continually making history through our thoughts, words and actions. History is personal and global; it is everyday life and momentous occasions. History is about people.

Through our study of the past, we can understand how our own world works. We can also understand how and why things happen to us. For example, had you ever wondered why the polar ice caps are melting? The answer partially lies in history. The Industrial Revolution caused the birth of industrial towns and factories, belching out smoke and pollution. It also caused the mechanisation of society, adding to the pollution. Could this partially explain the pollution problems that we face today? History is not just about the past!'

The Historical Association


At Newbrough CE Primary School, our history curriculum has been designed using both the National Curriculum and our overarching curriculum principles. We feel it is essential that our pupils gain an understanding of the rich and diverse history of our local area  and the significance that individuals from our region played nationally and internationally. At the same time, it is important that our pupils learn about other cultures and civilisations and their impact on us -and vice versa.


Golden threads

We have identified some golden threads which run through our history curriculum to shape our teaching. These are:

Social change; trade and industry; monarchs and monarchy; communication and propaganda; civilisation; and empire and invasion


Historical Concepts

We also recognise that, in history, children learn both 'substantive knowledge' about a historical unit ( the facts) and also develop disciplinary skills as a historian over time. 

The historical concepts which we have identified in order to develop those skills as a historian are: cause and consequence; continuity and change; similarity and difference; historical significance; sources and evidence; and historical interpretations.

For each unit, we have identified both key knowledge that the children will be taught and also mapped out the historical concepts which will be highlighted. 

Developing chronological knowledge

Chronology is reinforced explicitly through the use of a 'Time box'. As each new unit is introduced, the children are given a set of images from previous units taught  to place on a timeline alongside new images from the current topic.


'Hinterland learning'

Children's concepts about a particular time period are built up over time and reinforced by learning in other subjects, reading and stories in a way that has been described as building up a hinterland of knowledge. To facilitate this, we use texts in literacy, for example, which support the children's learning in history. An example would be that children are building up a picture of  Victorian Britain through learning about mining in our villages (history and geography) , through reading Oliver Twist and other extracts from Dickens (literacy) together with 'Wolves of Willoughby Chase' (literacy) and studying industrial landscapes in the work of Lowry (art);  then learning about the significance of George Stephenson and Lord Armstrong and their inventions to the industrialisation of the North East; finally bringing all of this knowledge to considering images painted of Victorian mills and the messages they were trying to convey in a unit on propaganda (Beyond Face Value). 

Similarly, in geography, the children learn about the significance of Whin Sill- a volcanic rock- in our local area when learning about volcanoes and this is then linked into learning about the Roman Empire and the construction of Hadrian's Wall along the significant ridge of the Whin SIll and revisited again when considering the life of St Cuthbert on Lindisfarne (easterly outcrop of the Whin SIll).


What we want the children to learn 

Early Years
Children in Class 1 (Nursery and Reception) learn important early historical concepts and vocabulary through discussions about their family, about changes in their own lives and through stories and discussions about historical artefacts (eg old toys or domestic equipment) or people in the past. Opportunities for historical learning are carefully planned ( eg by choice of books and objects in the classroom) and also arise naturally out of the children's play and questions.
KS1 and 2
 See below
History is taught in half termly blocks. alternating with geographical units. As our children are taught in mixed age classes, there is a 2 year rolling programme of history units taught. Each unit of work is linked to prior learning and sequenced to build knowledge of historical concepts over time.
The impact of our history teaching is evidenced by talking to the children and by looking at books and other work.