St Mary's Catholic Primary School

Live, Love, Believe


History Learning at St Mary's Primary School


Why do we study History?

Understanding the past and how it links to the present helps our understanding of our long human story. All societies are living histories – the product of all that has been inherited from the past, shaping our present  and contributing to our future. We live in societies with languages, cultures, traditions and religions that have evolved over millennia. We use technologies that have developed from the earliest flint tools to computerised virtual assistant technology – each stage contributing a chapter to the narrative of our human experience. We aim to enable pupils to understand that there are multiple interpretations of the past – the past is not simply ‘dead and gone’ but is continually being re-interpreted.


The National curriculum states the purpose of historical study as:

Helping pupils to 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 complexities 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 Mary's, children build up their History knowledge, skills and chronological understanding right from EYFS all the way through to Year 6.


At the heart of our History curriculum lies a deep routed understanding of how the past has impacted our present and how it will continue to affect our futures. There is also a strong thread through each year group to the Isle of Wight, linking significant people and their connection to our Island and how it has been a significant place in time across civilizations and empires. 


Our History sequence in KS1 builds upon the children's knowledge of themsleves and their own past from EYFS. We build the historical knowledge up in KS1 by linking what they know about themselves and their recent past to that of others they know through studying toys from the past. We then move on to learning about significant Historical events, one from our locality and one that had a significant impact on the world. We feel this allows the children to move from just focusing on their own experiences to that of others in the world. This is also linked to the Geography study, where we move from looking at our locality in EYFS to the United Kingdom. 


As children move into Year 2, they study internationally significant people; this is placed alongside Geography knowledge of other countries, so children are able to further understand how important people made a difference to another country. Children's understanding of monarchy and castles is also placed in Year 2 so that the geographical content of the UK helps them to put into context where Kings and Queens made a difference to in the UK and their links to the Isle of Wight.


As children move into KS2, the History curriculum is structured so that they study times and civilizations in chronological order. By doing this it allows the children to build a better understanding of how civilisations how risen and fallen and what has led to present day. They can put technological, social, political and environmental factors into context and understand how the civilisations which they have previously studied impact upon what they are currently studying. 


Our Historical concepts that allow children to build on prior knowledge can be categorised into:


Substantive Concepts – Historical facts that show cultural, economic, military, political, religious and social History and that are taught though specific linked abstract concepts of empire, civilisation, parliament, peasantry


Disciplinary Concepts – develop pupils’ rational and critical thinking:

  • chronological understanding
  • cause and consequence
  • significance of event, people and places
  • similarity and difference


Each study is developed to respond to an enquiry question centred around (at least) one of these disciplinary  concepts and that is linked to Catholic Social Teaching. 


Each area of History studied builds on prior learning and we show the children a 'roadmap' through History. We have designed our History curriculum to enable children to follow these roadmaps to become deep Historical thinkers and learners. Please see below for our roadmaps through History!