History at Hillside

Hillside children enjoying a school trip


History is lead with fascination by Mr Soboljew 

Subject Support Coach: Mr Frost 

Link Governor: tbc

At Hillside, we recognise history as being a medium through which pupils can understand, enjoy and appreciate the world in which we live. We believe that the teaching of fun, engaging lessons that bring history to life is seminal in developing children to enjoy learning and thus become life-long learners. This fundamental belief means that we pride ourselves on delivering a high-quality education which helps pupils gain a coherent knowledge and understanding of Britain’s past and that of the wider world. 

We appreciate the value of enquiry based learning and therefore have designed our curriculum so that history lessons foster opportunities for children to be inspired and ask questions why. Pupils are supported in developing their disciplinary knowledge by constructing informed responses to their own questions that involve thoughtful selection and organisation of relevant historical information. This involves taking children through significant periods in history from the Stone Age to World War II. The alignment of the history curriculum with the English curriculum ensures that children are immersed fully in their topics. Often, a pupil's author of the term, or a book on which a series of English lessons are focussed, provide the foundations on which children develop their understanding of a historical topic. Also, our shared reading cycle often utilises historical texts which supports children in developing key substantive knowledge regarding a particular topic. Through utilisation of a variety of teaching and learning styles, pupils are motivated to enquire, weigh evidence, sift arguments and think critically as they focus on recent eras of history, significant individuals and ancient civilisations from all around the world. 

The Subject Leader

I am Mr Soboljew, history subject leader here at Hillside Primary school. My role is crucial in developing history teaching, learning and resources across the school so as best to support teachers, motivate pupils, monitor progress and achieve consistently high standards. 

A priority of mine is to ensure that history is not taught as a stand-alone subject, but rather is a cornerstone that a large portion of the curriculum is centred around. To immerse children fully in history, I want it to feature in as many relevant curriculum areas as possible so that lessons complement each other and children’s learning is holistic. As a school, we used history as a starting point from which we have sought to make links between our subjects.

I have identified four key skills areas which I believe children require to become effective historians. These are chronological understanding, vocabulary, historical knowledge and questioning. These key skills are made up of a number of expectations, which progress in difficulty through the year groups (see progression map below for more information). 

Great emphasis is taken upon chronological knowledge, which when secure enables children to give context to what pupils learn and create meaningful narratives. To support the children in forming a coherent mental timeline, timelines have been established in each classroom. These not only refer to learning taking place within the year group but illustrate previous eras studied and eras which will be studied in future year groups. Furthermore, these timelines link to the children's locality through including significant dates regarding Stoke-on-Trent.  

To stay on top of my subject, I ensure that I attend relevant CPD opportunities and disseminate learning from these in staff meetings. Within school we have a collaborative approach to subject leadership and good practise is often shared amongst staff. In order to gain an understanding of how history is taught across the school, I ensure that my subject is monitored termly, gaining evidence from books and pupil voice. This informs the strengths and areas for development in my subject, which I share with staff individually. I regularly attend termly meetings with history subject leaders from other schools in order to share ideas and gather an insight into other initiatives. Furthermore, as part of our close association with Excel Academy, I have attended meetings to support progression of our pupils into Key Stage Three and beyond.  

I wholeheartedly believe that with a coherent understanding about the past, children can enter the world more informed to make decisions which will impact the future. That is why I set the expectation that by the time children leave Hillside, they should be confident with the application of disciplinary knowledge. They should be able to sift through arguments, weigh evidence and draw conclusions for themselves. They should be able to independently choose their own relevant sources of information, use sophisticated language, talk confidently about different eras and ask perceptive questions. 


The objectives for History in KS1 and KS2 are clearly set out for each year group in the National Curriculum: 

Key Stage 1

Pupils should be taught about: 

  • Changes within living memory. Where appropriate, these should be used to reveal aspects of change in national life 
  • Events beyond living memory that are significant nationally or globally for example: Great Fire of London, the first aeroplane flight or events commemorated through festivals or anniversaries 
  • The lives of significant individuals in the past who have contributed to national and international achievements. Some should be used to compare aspects of life in different periods [for example, Elizabeth 1 and Queen Victoria, Christopher Columbus and Neil Armstrong, William Caxton and Tim Berners-Lee, Pieter Bruegel the Elder and LS Lowry, Rosa Parks and Emily Davison, May Seacole and/or Florence Nightingale and Edith Cavell] 
  • Significant historical events, people and places in their own locality. 

Key Stage 2 

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 civilisations – an overview of where and when the first civilisations appeared and a depth study of one of the following: Ancient Sumer; The indus Valley, Ancient Egypt; The Shang Dynasty of Ancient China. 
  • Ancient Greece – a study of Greek; life and achievements and their influence on the western world. 
  • A non-European society that provides contrasts with British history – one chosen from: early Islamic civilisation, including a study of Baghdad c. AD 900; Mayan civilisation c. AD 900; Benin (West Africa) c. AD 900-1300 

Early Years Foundation Stage 

Within Early Years, history is an integral part of the topic work covered during the year. Historical skills taught in EYFS set in motion key disciplinary knowledge the children will develop in Key Stage One. The most relevant area of Early Years learning is related to the area of ‘Understanding the World’. Through this learning, children in EYFS talk about the lives of people around them and identify similarities and differences between things in the past and present. As a key stimulus for building their historical understanding, the children consider the past drawing on settings, characters and events encountered in books read in class.  

Using both the EYFS Framework and statutory objectives, we have created a long term plan and progression map which integrates all of these into our broad and balanced curriculum.  

Curriculum design   

Implementing these statutory frameworks our history curriculum is organised on the basis of chronology. As mentioned previously, ensuring that pupils have a secure coherent narrative supports knowledge becoming more memorable. Across Key Stage two, topics regarding British history are taught in chronological order across year groups as well as world history. Within Key Stage One, topics regarding History are structured to support transition from EYFS. Within Year One, their first topic is ‘Toys and Houses’ where the children focus on changes within living memory. Later in the year, the children are supported in developing their chronological narrative further through studying events beyond living memory.  


Through a comprehensive study of history we integrally cover core British values. History aids and supports spiritual development of children by developing their sense of curiosity. Our enquiry based view of history encourages children to question events from the past and what may have happened if events had different outcomes. Also, children are regularly given primary sources to develop a greater perspective of people who lived during the period and the decisions they made.  

On a regular basis within history, children develop their moral consciences by engaging in a range of activities which encourage them to consider both moral questions and dilemmas. Often beliefs in the past will be different than those held today, with children exploring the notions of compassion and empathy for those who have made the decisions. For example, one activity which is regularly applied within history lessons are conscience alleys. Conscience alleys see children form a line both for and against a certain decision, with children in the line giving their valued opinion on either side. Their opinion is based on their understanding/empathy of the era. 

Also, throughout our history curriculum, children’s social development is supported. This is implemented through contrasting different periods of the past to our ‘modern day world’. On a regular basis, for example through warm-ups, children explore similarities and differences between different ages. Furthermore, history also offers lots of opportunities for children to consolidate their own social development through teamwork tasks and collaborative projects. We encourage all of our children to engage in discussion to forward their own ideas and build on those of others. Our curriculum also encourages and supports children in identifying their own locality in history and how the past has impacted the region today. 

Finally, history at Hillside promotes cultural development by giving children the opportunity to learn and study about people from different cultures throughout our units on world history. These units include: the Mayans, the Egyptians and the Greeks Through our comprehensive study of British history, children are also supported to consider how other cultures have had an impact on the current British culture. 

The contribution of History to teaching in other curriculum areas 


At our school, we have aligned our curriculum so that most history topics in each year group are taught alongside an English unit relevant to that era: The Victorians topic in history is taught alongside Charles Dickens’ ‘Christmas Carol’ and Berlie Doherty’s ‘Street Child’; understanding of the Romans is supplemented through ‘Alfie’s Adventures in Ancient Rome’ by Andrew Powell-Thomas; children are immersed in their learning of the Greeks through an English unit focused on Maz Evan’s  novel ‘Who Let the Gods Out?’; and the topic of the stone-age is embedded through study of the ‘Stone-age Boy’ text. This not only ensures that historical knowledge is developed in English lessons, but also that children are more able to empathise with people of that era, and immerse themselves in the

 type of archaic language and writing styles that were used during that time.  

Also, another key area of the English curriculum where History is pivotal is our shared reading cycle. On a fortnightly basis the children focus on a different text, many of these are often linked closely to the children’s history learning. Through these daily sessions, the children are supported in developing key substantive knowledge about a unit. This enables afternoon history lessons to integrate and develop the children’s disciplinary knowledge using that substantive knowledge consolidated during shared reading.       


The teaching of history contributes to children’s mathematical understanding in a variety of ways. Children learn to use and order numbers when developing a sense of chronology through activities such as creating timelines and sequencing events in their own lives.  In key stage one, children may order events from oldest to most recent, or collect data about parents’ favourite toys. Children also learn to interpret information presented in graphical or diagrammatic forms. In upper Key Stage Two, the children regularly integrate statistical knowledge to interpret meanings behind censuses.   

Personal, Social, Health and Economic Education (PSHE) 

Staff at Hillside are very passionate that children understand that having a comprehensive understanding of the past can influence positive change for the future. Therefore we ensure that history contributes significantly to the teaching of Personal, Social, Health and Economic Education. Children develop self-confidence by having opportunities to explain their views on a number of social questions such as how society should respond to poverty and homelessness or whether they think modern toys are better than old toys. Children are given the opportunity to respond ethically to questions such as were the Vikings really raiders or did they become settlers? 

In addition, they discover how to be active citizens in a democratic society by learning how laws are made and changed. They learn that society is made up of people from different cultures and start to develop respect and tolerance for others.  


Computing enhances our teaching of History wherever appropriate in all key stages. The children use computing in a variety of ways such as word processing, researching information safely online using secondary sources and presenting information via PowerPoint. Also, on many occasions, the children's historical knowledge has formed the basis of computing units. For example, in Year Five the children design and create games using Purple Mash. As a stimulus for their game, the children ensure that it is inspired by their learning on the Ancient Greeks.   


Geography goes hand-in-hand with many of the topics taught within history. It is fundamental that, when learning about civilisations across the wider world, children have some understanding of the locality of these civilisations and the types of settlements that different civilisations made. It’s common-place, here at Hillside, to walk into a history lesson and find children exploring atlases, looking at globes or using ‘digimaps’ to compare old road maps with modern-day maps and find grid-references of old establishments. When learning about people such as Christopher Columbus, it is valuable to know the locality of his travels in comparison to that of Europe. 


Every term, each class has an artist or designer of the term. These are chosen with relevance to the unit during that time; therefore are regularly people of the past who have influenced and inspired different generations. Children look at the work produced by such artists and designers and try to recreate some of the styles that they demonstrate in their work, using the colours and patterns relevant to that time. 



We place great importance on educational visits and visitors to enhance the History curriculum. These visits allow our children to think for themselves, make connections to what they’ve learnt in class and construct their understanding from a range of primary and secondary sources of evidence. These trips, alongside various other strategies discussed above allow teachers to facilitate learning so that pupils can note connections, contrasts and trends over time and are more holistically developed to enter the world as wider informed individuals. Such visits include: 

  • Nursery visit to Amerton Farm and Amerton Railway where they ride a steam train. 
  • Reception go on a local walk and discuss old and modern buildings. 
  • Year 1 visit Brampton toy museum to look at how toys have changed through history; in addition, they go to Ford Green Hall to look at the type of houses around during the Great Fire of London. 
  • Year 2 go to Gladstone Pottery Museum where they explore the history of pottery industry in Stoke-on-Trent and influential artist Clarice Cliff.  
  • Year 3 visit Birmingham Museum and explore their Ancient Egypt collection. 
  • Year 4 are immersed in the history of chocolate at Cadbury world.   
  • Year 5 visit Warwick Castle to explore the origins of the Anglo Saxon site.  
  • Year 6 are immersed in their topic of the Victorians by visiting Blists Hill Victorian town. 

As well educational visits, at Hillside we periodically offer a local history club. This provides the opportunity for pupils to explore their local heritage from the pottery

 industry to the six towns. During this club, the children focus on their locality through applying their disciplinary knowledge of primary sources.  

Furthermore, enrichment is evident at Hillside through a series of themed days across our Hillside calendar. For example, in January we have Martin Luther King day and in November is Remembrance. During these days, the children have an assembly and complete thought-provoking activities within the classroom. During Remembrance, we often work closely with Milton’s St Philip and St James Church to display commemorative work within the community.     

Pupil voice

Please find below a selection of quotes taken from our pupil voice.   

Year Two Child – ‘In history lessons we often work together as a team on a challenge’. 

Year Four Child – ‘I really enjoyed our topic on the Romans especially the lesson where we acted as advisors to Emperor Claudius.’ 

Year Six Child – ‘Our learning on the Victorians is fantastic, the trip to Blists Hill really took us back to life during the Victorian times.’  

Assessment for learning  

Class teachers will use both regular formative and summative assessment in order to ensure that they are confident of knowing exactly what the children understand. Within every lesson, formative assessment will take place in a range of forms from varied flashback questions to well-planned opportunities to elicit knowledge and skills. The children will also self-assess their understanding of the concept through choosing an appropriate level of challenge to work off and closing the lesson with a comment regarding their understanding and progress. Once a unit has been completed, the class teacher will complete their summative assessment which is shared with the subject lead via an Excel spread sheet. Through this summative assessment, for each topic it is clearly visible how many pupils are emerging, expected or exceeding.

Growth mindset/careers 

Across all of our curriculum at Hillside, children are encouraged to challenge themselves and apply their growth mindset. We support children in getting out of the ‘comfort zone’ and into the ‘stretch zone’, where most effective learning can take place. If a child is not successful on a task on the first attempt, they are supported in implementing their growth mindset to try again. Within history, this is regularly the case where sources may be tricky to extract true meaning. Our embedded growth mindset culture across school ensures that children are supportive with each other when overcoming challenges. 

Within our history lessons, opportunities to discuss careers are found in abundance. At first instance, children at all times are encouraged to implement their disciplinary knowledge to think like an historian. This introduces the children to the roles which historians have in revealing the past and how they are able to successfully do this using a range of primary sources and comparative skills. Also, as the children explore the world through all different eras in their history lessons a variety of different careers are often highlighted which significant individuals may have.