Designing a History Curriculum Pt 5 – Planning, Teaching and Subject Leading

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; the development of our History Skills Hexagons to clearly highlight disciplinary knowledge; and how we created teacher guides packed with information/resources for each enquiry. Today, I wanted to look a little bit more at what our curriculum looks like in action. It’s the procedural stuff really, and whilst we might not have it right (who truly does) I thought I’d share what we’re up to.


At our first INSET of the year, we have a Curriculum Workshop where we present our curriculum, our expectations and the practicalities of each subject. It’s a crash course on how we do what we do! It also gives some time and space for ECTs to dig into the curriculum and ask questions whilst subject leaders can ensure consistency (in the right way).

When it comes to planning we know that everyone is different. Some people find comfort in detailed planning, others love grids or a template created by someone online. I have recently been using the notes sections in PowerPoint to write key reminders/vocabulary that I’m using in lessons. It’s great because they appear on my screen and are saved in the same place as the slides for future years. I’ll show staff how I do this but not require it!

Our “Non-negotiables”

Top colleague, Hollie, coined the phrase “Non-negotiables” when we talked about the things that we expect to see in each enquiry and in lessons. This gives consistency but also allows space for creativity and flair – something that is important to us. We also felt that if we were asking teachers to do specific and consistent things we needed to ensure they were resourced to do this.

Using the Teacher Guides we ask teachers to:

  • ensure that the enquiry question has been met through the key questions and imparted the key information;
  • look carefully at how they are explicitly teaching, modelling, and independently giving children the opportunity to use the disciplinary skills (identified on the History Hex);
  • at the start of an enquiry, add the unit to the children’s personal timelines stuck at the front of their history books;
  • at the end of the enquiry, give feedback is given to the subject leader on annotated enquiry Teacher Guide sheet (including any new resources found, vocabulary queries/additions, things that need amending/removing/ improving etc.)

In each lesson, we asked teachers to:

  • present lessons as enquiries that help explore the overarching unit enquiry;
  • stick in a lesson sticker with the enquiry question and the History Hex skills icons (we provided a template to help with this);
  • begin with retrieval practice from prior learning, emphasising and repeating crucial components (this should include content from previous years using the threads to support e.g. if looking at Roman houses in a lesson might want to look back to Stone Age, Victorian and Egyptian dwellings (to aid with later comparisons);
  • ensure any links to literacy and numeracy are always firmly completed in the service of history;
  • end every lesson by reflecting on the enquiry question posed at the start of the lesson, highlighting the key substantive content and identifying the skills that have been used (marking these on the lesson label). We provide a PowerPoint template to help with this (download below).

Leading the subject

For me being a subject leader is not about continually preparing for deep dives! It is about being responsible for ensuring that the history element of our broad and balanced curriculum is delivered effectively so that children make good progress in their understanding of history and develop the disciplinary skills they need to prepare them for the next phase of their education.

How do I achieve this? First, we’re running the curriculum: at INSET I’ll be sharing the curriculum again and going through the non-negotiables. At the end of each teaching enquiry, I will be gathering in Teacher Guides and using these along with the Pupil Book Study methodology to talk with children and their books about what they’ve been up to. I hope that this will help to refine and resource the subject. Finally, we’re creating a bank of retrieval/fluency slides for knowledge (both substantive and formative). There should end up being 3 to 4 for each unit which teachers choose activities from to start each lesson or as a “five-minute filler”.

The four bolded words – runnings / resource / refine / retrieval – form my action plan.

The resources

© 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:

Be First to Comment

Leave a comment (questions, notes of thanks and inspiring words are all welcome)

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.