At Smarden, we believe that History should be a complex problem solving process involving many-faceted elements, rather than an information disseminating process. History is about seeing relationships, making associations, categorisation, distinguishing relevant information, and relating existing new information to existing information, spotting how different parts of a topic relate to one another. In line with our pedagogical model, we believe that teaching should adopt an enquiry based approach with open ended questions posed to encourage higher order thinking. Thus, we aim for pupils to be explaining the past, using evidence available, rather than just describing it.
The first key dimension of history at Smarden is that of creating a framework of knowledge and understanding into which pupils can place new information. This applies particularly to chronological understanding. We believe that cementing this chronological understanding by the end of Key Stage two will set pupils up for Secondary education.
Thus, the history curriculum at Smarden has been designed to ensure that children study the full range of topics as specified in the National Curriculum. Children need to gain the knowledge by an in-depth study of each of these particular areas of historical enquiry.
The second key dimension of history at Smarden is to promote higher order historical skills, for example skills such as understanding of source materials and the complexity of historical perspective. Pupils need to make their own meaning. They need to work things out for themselves and think about how they did it. Pupils need to know that the story of the past is told differently. They need to grasp that history is created from the evidence that remains. Sometimes this evidence is fragmentary or contradictory so we have to weigh it and test it for reliability. Historians have to find ways of making sense of this incomplete picture. They also have to make judgements about the accuracy of evidence from the past. If children are to make sense of their own world where social media regularly tells different stories about the same events, using different evidence and for different audiences, they need practise at handling these contradictions. They need to know which questions to ask. If they are taught history well they will be given the necessary training to be open-minded and respectful of evidence in later life.
The curriculum sets out to be coherent and make sense. The sequence of topics has been designed to allow progression of both knowledge and skills, for example, studying the history of our immediate locality (our school and our village in Reception and KS1) before exploring the wider world. Topics such as the Stone Age to Iron age are taught before the Romans, to enable teachers to build a sense of narrative . The Maya is taught at the end of year 6 in preparation for KS3, it draws upon all prior learning and offers pupils an opportunity to explore perspectives with a stark contrast to their own history and to become increasingly aware of the complexity of human life.