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St. Mary's C.E. Primary School

With God’s strength, we reach for the stars

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The aims of history at St Mary’s Primary School are consistent with our school philosophy:

  • To instil in the children a curiosity and understanding of events, places and people in a variety of times and environments. 
  • To develop an interest in the past and an appreciation of human achievements and aspirations. 
  • To understand the values of different societies both past and present. 
  • To develop a knowledge of chronology within which the children can organise their understanding of the past. 
  • To develop an understanding and appreciation of our local history in order to deepen the children’s connection with their immediate community.
  • To understand how the past was different from the present and that people of other times and places may have had different values and attitudes from ours.
  • To understand the nature of evidence by emphasising the process of enquiry and by developing a range of skills required to interpret primary and secondary source materials.
  • To distinguish between historical facts and the interpretation of those facts.


At St Mary’s Primary School, the children follow a concentric curriculum, designed to motivate, engage and inspire the children through a series of learning journeys which we have titled, ‘mini missions’.  History-focussed mini missions take place across Key Stage 1 and 2 during Spring 1 and Summer 1. During the final three weeks of the Summer term, the children all undertake a local history study specific to their year group. 


As well as making its own distinctive contribution to the school curriculum, history contributes to the wider aims of primary education. Teachers will ensure that links between subjects are maximized during each mini mission.  Our long-term and medium-term plans map out the skills and themes covered for each year group. These plans define what we will teach and ensure an appropriate balance and distribution of work across each year.


Early Years 

During the foundation stage, the children are given the opportunity to find out about past and present events in their own lives, and those of their families and other people they know. In the foundation stage, history makes a significant contribution to developing a child’s ‘knowledge and understanding of the world’ through activities such as looking at pictures of famous people in history or discovering the meaning of new and old in relation to their own lives.  Our reception class will also participate in our local history unit which will take place during the summer term.


Key Stage 1 

The National Curriculum Programme of Study at Key Stage 1 focuses on developing children’s awareness of the past, using common words and phrases relating to the passing of time. They should know where the people and events they study fit within a chronological framework and identify similarities and differences between ways of life in different periods. Children should use a wide vocabulary of everyday historical terms. They should ask and answer questions, choosing and using parts of stories and other sources to show that they know and understand key features of events. They should understand some of the ways in which we find out about the past and identify different ways in which it is represented.  In planning to ensure the progression described above through teaching about the people, events and changes outlined below, teachers are often introducing pupils to historical periods that they will study more fully at Key Stage 2.

Pupils should be taught about: 

  • Changes within living memory.
  • Events beyond living memory that are significant nationally or globally.
  • The lives of significant individuals in the past who have contributed to national and international achievements.
  • Significant historical events, people and places in their own locality. 


The teaching of local history is of paramount importance at St Mary’s as we believe there is much in our city’s past to be proud of.  By developing an early understanding and appreciation of local achievements we hope to promote a sense of pride in and connectedness to our local area.  Key Stage 1 undertake two local enquiries - Why is Stoke-On-Trent famous and What were canals used for in the past?  Both enquiries involve the children going out into the local area on trips to sites of historical importance and museums.  We believe that learning should be undertaken outside of the classroom, using the excellent local resources on offer whenever possible.


Key Stage 2 

The National Curriculum Programme of Study at Key Stage 2 should continue to allow children to develop a chronologically secure knowledge and understanding of British, local and world history, establishing clear narratives within and across the periods they study. They should note connections, contrasts and trends over time and develop the appropriate use of historical terms. They should regularly address and sometimes devise historically valid questions about change, cause, similarity and difference, and significance. Children should construct informed responses that involve thoughtful selection and organisation of relevant historical information. They should understand how our knowledge of the past is constructed from a range of sources.  In planning to ensure progression, teachers should combine overview and depth studies to help pupils understand both the long arc of development and the complexity of specific aspects of the content. 

Pupils should be taught about: 

  • Changes in Britain from the Stone Age to the Iron Age. 
  • The Roman Empire and its impact on Britain.
  • Britain’s settlement by Anglo-Saxons and Scots. 
  •  The Viking and Anglo-Saxon struggle for the Kingdom of England to the time of Edward the Confessor. 
  • A local history study. 
  • A study of an aspect or theme in British history that extends pupils’ chronological knowledge beyond 1066.
  • The achievements of the earliest civilizations - an overview of where and when the first civilizations appeared and a depth study of one of the following: Ancient Sumer; The Indus Valley; Ancient Egypt; The Shang Dynasty of Ancient China.


As with Key Stage 1, an understanding and appreciation of local history is vitally important.  During their time in Key Stage 2, the children undertake the following enquiries:


  • What was it like to live in Stoke-On-Trent during Tudor times?
  • What was it like to work in a coal mine?
  • How did Middleport Pottery change the way that pottery was produced?
  • Who was Josiah Wedgwood?

All of these enquiries involve trips to some of the excellent museums we have in Stoke-On-Trent. First- hand experiences and hands-on workshops are used to enhance the children’s understanding of their local heritage at every opportunity.


Progression and Continuity

The activities in history build upon the prior learning of the children. Whilst we give children of all abilities the opportunity to develop their skills, knowledge and understanding, we ensure continuity and progression so that there is an increasing challenge for the children as they move up through the school.  Teachers should refer to the Progression in History document. 


Teaching and Learning 

The school uses a variety of teaching and learning styles in history lessons. Our principal aim is to develop the children’s knowledge, skills and understanding in history and we use a variety of teaching and learning styles to do this. We believe in whole-class teaching methods and combine these with enquiry-based research activities. We believe children learn best when: 

  • They have access to, and are able to handle artefacts. 
  • They go on visits to museums and places of historical interest
  • They have access to secondary sources such as books and photographs. 
  • Visitors talk about personal experiences of the past.
  • They listen to and interact with stories from the past.
  • They undertake fieldwork by interviewing family and older friends about changes in their own and other people’s lives.
  • They use drama and dance to act out historical events.
  • They are shown, or use independently, resources from the internet, and videos.
  • They are able to use non-fiction books for research.
  • They are provided with opportunities to work independently or collaboratively, to ask as well as answer historical questions. 



We recognise the fact that we have children of differing ability in all our classes, and so we provide suitable learning opportunities for all children by matching the challenge of the task to the ability of the child. We achieve this through a range of strategies which are differentiated by task, expected outcome and/or support from peers or adults. This is monitored by a book trawl at the end of each teaching unit and via lesson ‘drop ins’ during teaching. 



Assessment and Recording 

At St Mary’s Primary School, assessment is an integral part of the teaching process. Assessment is used to inform planning and to facilitate differentiation. The assessment of children's work is on-going to ensure that understanding is being achieved and that progress is being made. Feedback is given to the children as soon as possible, and marking work will be guided by the school's marking policy. 

At the end of each mini-mission, each class teacher submits an assessment grid which contains the intended outcomes for that unit of study.  Each child is then assessed as working towards the intended outcomes, having achieved the intended outcomes or exceeding the intended outcomes.  Each teacher’s assessment is based on a combination of questioning during lessons, observations of independent and group work, evidence produced in mini- mission books and a post-unit assessment. 



There is a range of age appropriate resources to support the teaching and learning of history, including the local area, across the school. We have a wide range of text books and interactive boards to access the internet as a class. Children’s books are kept in the History section of the school library bus and every half term, the librarian loans books out to each year group. An excellent range of historical information texts are available from the library bus and can be taken out by both children and teachers.


Visits are planned to enhance learning and give opportunities for hand-on experiences. People with an interest, or expertise, in a particular topic or area of history should be invited into school to work with the children. These might be parents, grandparents, other family members, neighbours or representatives of the local community.


In September 2019, a large-scale timeline was added as a playground marking to the Key Stage 2 playground.  The children are now able to begin their history mini-missions by visiting the timeline and exploring where the topic being studied fits in relation to other periods in time. 


Roles and Responsibilities

The work of the subject leader is to monitor and support colleagues in the teaching of history, being informed about current developments and competitions in the subject, and providing a strategic lead and direction for the subject in the school. After each mini mission all staff meet to discuss the learning that has taken place across the school.  This both aids progression and promotes the subject amongst staff.