Designing a History Curriculum Pt 4 – Teacher Guides and substantive knowledge

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

Over the past few months, I’ve shared our starting points in creating our History curriculum, the timeline we created to anchor substantive historical knowledge and the development of our History Skills Hexagons to clearly highlight disciplinary knowledge. Today I’m looking at the information/resources we provide to all those involved in the teaching of history across the school.

Why not just buy a scheme?

There are some great schemes out there and I have taught in schools using a number of them. They all have their pros and cons. However, for me, the local history links and the backgrounds of our children mean that we needed something more tailored. In our initial staff discussions, teachers also identified that many schemes do not provide the diversity that we want to show in our History Curriculum.

There was also a very open discussion about the level of prescription that colleagues wanted. I think there is a balance to be struck between providing support for teachers (especially in primary where we have to have such a wide subject/knowledge base) and taking away all classroom autonomy and individual flair.

Thankfully, I have the support of a great leadership and staff team who understand the importance of investing time and resources into developing the curriculum. If I didn’t have this I would buy one!

Single Page Summaries

I don’t believe it is only children who suffer from cognitive overload! If you’ve ever sat in a start-of-year INSET as an ECT or on the first day at a new school, the wealth of material being shared can be overwhelming! Getting your head around the curriculum with such diversity between schools and subjects is tough. Our teachers were clear that they wanted direction on what they should be covering but in a short, quick-to-digest format. We agreed on a single-page overview per unit/enquiry/topic- a knowledge organiser for teachers if you will.

This gathering of ideas from others stage was so crucial. The time investment was certainly worth it!

Collaborative Working

This was certainly something that required some collaborative work. I asked for an initial hour of staff meeting time and printed out the “blank” single-page summaries on A3 paper. Yet again, my colleagues are the best, we had a productive hour writing in questions, resources, knowledge and vocabulary to give us a solid starting point.

I then wrote these up and sent them out again to get feedback before neatening and publishing ready for the school year.

Getting the flow – Our Threads

One of the questions I’ve seen OFSTED inspectors ask most is about the ordering and narrative of a school’s history curriculum. We thought carefully about our sequence as discussed in part 2 but it was also important to us to consider the wider narratives that are in history and how we can open up and explore these with children (equipping them as they continue in secondary education and hopefully further).

I wanted these “threads” to help children see links, make comparisons and gain a deeper understanding of history whilst also giving future knowledge something to hang on to. This meant not being too specific, but giving broad areas of learning and showing how they are reflected in various settings.

Again, the Civilisation computer games provided inspiration – Sid Meier’s categories within the games – combined with careful study of the national curriculum document helped us end with 6 threads: Movement of people; Conflict; Arts & Culture; Dwellings/Lifestyle; Technological development and Religion. We then looked at how these threads appear in enquiries as well as the overarching narratives. It’s something I’m really excited about and look forward to seeing if it has the impact I hope it will as we teach it. You can get the download below.

The resources

So, you’ve made it through the ramblings and now you can see what we’ve created. We’ve called this our BETA. Over the 2022/23 academic year we’ve committed to annotating these sheets with comments/improvements and actions.

© 2022 by Andrew Guilder ( licensed under Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International. To view a copy of this license, visit Based on content from Department for Education (2013) The national curriculum in England: key stages 1 and 2 framework document. Available at:

One Comment

  1. Lisa
    August 29, 2022

    Thank you so much for your pure genius!

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