Designing a History Curriculum Pt 1 – Starting points

My thoughts, ramblings and useful tidbits I’ve found in designing our History Curriculum

Over the next few months whilst developing our school’s history curriculum I hope to share some of the processes we went through in developing it. It might interest you, it might save you some time, whatever it does, I hope it will inspire you.

Not throwing the baby out with the bathwater

The existing History Curriculum had some great points – it had a clear narrative, there were some taught blocks that worked well, vocabulary had been thought about and given a clear progression and class teachers had built a strong knowledge of the content they teach. The problem was some of the units hadn’t worked so well; they were too broad and tried to fit too much in, and some of the sequences didn’t flow (so children weren’t linking key concepts across units). There was also a lack of disciplinary knowledge that we were keen to address.

The importance of working with individuals

Colleagues are the best! Going alone in creating a curriculum isn’t going to help! Conversations about what currently works and what doesn’t had to be the starting point. I also wanted to ask my colleagues, “Well, what would help you to teach History better?”.

These conversations inspired a trio of key thoughts: a progression in the substantive knowledge (to be represented on a timeline that grew and developed through the school); a progression of disciplinary knowledge (reflected on as part of each lesson and developing over time); and a clear single side guide for each unit that would give a teacher (especially a teacher new to the topic) key enquiry questions, vocabulary and resources.

The importance of working with all staff

Looking at the existing units we had I made a simple table of them and gave them a simple dual-coded graphical key. I mapped these units to the National Curriculum before labelling green units that have been working and red where staff had shared concerns. This was then shared at a staff meeting and for fifteen or so minutes we discussed potential options, changes and ideas as a whole school team. In that staff meeting issues of diversity (something I will post about soon), local history and the threads that link through History topics were brought up (again, topics I will come back to later)

This left me with a clear set of topics to cover, mapped to the national curriculum and to which I could now create the timeline to support the progression in substantive knowledge. I’ll share more on the timeline as well as mapping the knowledge in the next post 😊

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