At Westhouses Primary School, we view History not only as simple facts and dates but encourage pupils to become detectives who explore the past in an exciting way. History is taught mainly through a topic based approach and gives pupils a chance to explore a wide range of sources from which the past may come alive.
History allows our children to compare and contrast, to examine how and why things have changed, to learn about historical characters and expand their research skills. We teach children to be open minded and enquiring thinkers who understand cause and effect. We want them to understand how people have lived in the past and compare this to modern life. We encourage first hand experiences through handling real artefacts and wherever possible arranging field work visits to relevant sites of historical interest in the region or bringing in specialists for in-school workshops.
In Geography pupils develop their knowledge of people and places to understand the physical, social and economic forces which shape those places and the lifestyles of the people who live there. We study local areas/issues and extend these studies into the wider world. The children learn to use maps to locate cities, countries, mountain ranges, rivers, seas and oceans. They use atlases, photos and the internet to explore the environment and economics of those countries which they study. They then use the skills they have developed in English, Maths and Computing to report and record their findings.
How do we teach History and Geography at Westhouses?
Each half term (in some cases, term), classes embark on a new theme or ‘challenge’, taken from the 2014 National Curriculum programme of study, the Cornerstones curriculum or from areas of interest from our pupils. For example, in the Autumn Term, a class may have a geographical focus, exploring how volcanoes make the Earth angry, whilst in the Spring term they may have a historical focus, studying the Roman invasion of Britain.
Humanities work may involve analysing sources from the past, data handling to explore trends or even writing a story to retell a major battle! We believe learning does not end in a humanities lesson – we must use our pupils' interests across the curriculum and so we embed the skills from other curriculum areas to tap into pupil strengths and interests, whilst developing mathematical and writing skills.
We aim for each unit to link to other areas of the curriculum. By creating this 'cross curricular approach', we aim to immerse the children in the area to develop a deeper understanding of the unit. For example, whilst studying War and Conflict, children may explore the concept of Make Do and Mend in their Design and Technology work; examine dances, music and artists from 1940 and creating a report persuading local residents to refurbish our Air Raid Shelter in English. We also aim to use a variety of Fiction and Non-Fiction texts to develop a wider understanding of a concept, where appropriate.
How does our curriculum progress and build on prior learning?
In Reception, children will explore the different 'topics' through focused work and continuous provision around the classroom, with specific links to the Early Learning Goals. As pupils move into Key Stage 1, children continue to learn through topics, which link learning together in half termly blocks. As children progress into Lower Key Stage 2, they begin to focus on discrete areas of History and Geography, linking their learning to prior experiences. Our oldest children in Upper Key Stage 2 then begin to learn through thematic topics, such as Crime and Punishment and exploring Rights and Responsibilities in America: this allows the children to review prior learning and make deeper connections across time periods and concepts in Geography.
Pupils are assessed periodically throughout units of learning, in accordance with our Teaching and Learning Policy. Each lesson, Teachers will use ongoing assessment to identify where children require additional support or challenge. Within lessons, activities will be adapted accordingly. Within planning, teachers shall ensure that lessons are progressive and build upon prior learning, recapping key concepts as appropriate. Planning will identify key success criteria, gathered from our Progression Documents, and will identify what children should be doing to work towards, be expected or work at a greater depth. Units are structured in such a way to allow children to revisit, make links and build upon prior learning - this will also support children who require additional support to achieve the end of unit goals. Opportunities will be planed for children to demonstrate their understanding in different ways, such as through art work, mathematics and extended pieces of writing.
For more information about the areas studied in each class, please see the Long Term Plans on the curriculum page.