History Rationale


Our history curriculum aims to develop a curiosity that makes each child inquisitive about the past, helping them develop a growing knowledge of Britain’s past and the wider world. Through working as historians, we aim for our pupils to develop a keen interest in the past, beginning to appreciate how the past has a bearing on the present. We support our children in developing the ability to think critically when examining evidence and to develop their own opinions, which they can then back up with their prior historical knowledge and developing historical skills.

The structure of our curriculum aims to equip pupils with the relative knowledge and skills outlined in the National Curriculum via an integrative and holistic approach. The lessons are taught through creative and stimulating sessions which provide opportunities to bridge back and activate prior learning from previous lessons and previous years to ensure their knowledge is secure, deepened and retained.   

Our curriculum is designed to:

  • Encourage our pupils to work as historians, through exposure to a variety of sources – including visits and fieldwork - developing their ability to ask perceptive questions, critically interpret and question the past
  • To understand the chronology of events in Britain and the wider world. As children move through school, they begin to recognise that different things were happening in different places in the world at the same time. Every unit of work includes a focus on chronology, to help children understand where the period of history they are studying fits within their knowledge to date of the past/ chronology, always linking to prior learning.
  • To use an enquiry-based approach through which children are taught key history knowledge in a variety of ways. First hand sources, or where not possible replicas or pictures are used in all units of work to support the children in being historians, developing the skills to find out about the past.
  • To enable children to learn and explicitly use key historical vocabulary which is planned and developed explicitly with regular opportunities to be revised and reactivated.


During Early Years children develop an understanding of the time before they were alive, based on living history. They use events in their own lives and their family members. Through role play, children explore objects from the present and the past, understanding that some things have changed over time. Children use their immediate surroundings to focus on changes at within their home, school, shops and transport. The aim of Early Years is to develop inquisitive learners who are encouraged to ask questions, show curiosity about objects, events and people, and begin to consider why some things have changed. This lays the foundations of their History journey as they progress through school.

Early historical vocabulary is discretely taught and explained and then regularly referred to in direct teaching and continuous provision, displayed in the classroom to remind adults to keep reinforcing key language with the children.

Key Stage 1:

In Key Stage 1 children build on their observations of changes in home, shops and transport to begin to look at a change(s) within living memory and how these impact on changes in their lives. Through a focused study of local shops and homes, linking to their local area study in geography, the children look at changes over time from the 1950s to the present day. This study includes local fieldwork and first-hand accounts from family members. Children will develop their use of aerial photos and maps of the locality to compare changes over time.  Children will begin to plot shops and houses in the village on to a simple timeline using vocabulary to show the passing of time.

To build on this work, and their developing sense of chronology, children will begin to understand that their locality has changed over time using maps from further in the past. They will focus on the growth of transport links of the railways, canals, roads and air; beginning to ask questions about why transport links within their locality have changed over time.

A more in-depth study of a study of transport, including a focus on the impact of the railways and local waterways will include the opportunity to study significant individuals such as Isambard Kingdom Brunel and George Stephenson and the significance of their achievements on the development of engineering and the railways, in particular the Liverpool – Manchester Railway and the steam engine the Rocket. This will be supported by a visit to The Anderton Boat lift on the Macclesfield Canal and the Museum of Science and Industry.

The children will continue to build on this study by focusing further on the life of Thomas Telford and his impact on the lives of people of Macclesfield, through the development of the canals.  These lives of these 3 significant engineers and inventors from the past and the impact and legacy of their inventions will also be used to compare to the modern-day entrepreneurs and engineers of Elon Musk (founder of Space X and Tesla), Jeff Bezos (CEO of Amazon) and Richard Branson (Virgin). As children develop an increasing sense of chronology they move to time periods beyond living history.

They study two significant national events, understanding when these happened relative to today and to each other and their impact on people at the time. They learn about the Great Fire of London and the events leading up to this – The Plague of 1665 (Black Death), beginning to explore cause and effect through understanding aspects of life at the time and how these differ from their lives today. In addition, the use of artefacts/ pictures of artefacts, children begin to understand how first hand written and pictorial sources can be used to help us develop our knowledge of the past. For example, by looking at the diary of Samuel Pepys. The children then study Guy Fawkes and the Gunpowder Plot, finding out about the lives of another significant individual at the time. They begin to consider why people may have acted in certain ways and the impact of their actions on society then and now.

Linking to their geography where children are developing an understanding of the world, by looking at the development of transport nationally, the children begin to consider significant international figures and their achievements through flight – The Wright Brothers, Amelia Earhart, and the first international flight Alcock and Brown, the reasons for their journeys and the impact of their travels on our lives today.

Lower Key Stage 2:

During the 2 years across lower KS2, children continue to develop an increasing sense of chronology, moving a long way into the past to look at a focus on key changes in Britain from the Stone Age to Iron Age. As they begin Key Stage 2, children are also beginning to understand that different things are happening in different parts of the world at the same time to further develop their historical understanding. Children move on to develop an understanding of archaeology and its place in helping us find out more about the past. They begin to develop their understanding of how the past can be interpreted in different ways and use their own and others evidence to answer historically valid questions.

When looking at the Stone Age, artefacts are used to help children understand daily life for people at the time. This links to geography where children look at the types of settlements in early Britain and why people chose to settle there, comparing this with land use patterns of today. Children learn about at shelters, housing and buildings and how they changed between the periods linking back their work from shops and houses from EYFS and KS1. This is supported by a residential visit to an archaeological dig and Iron Age round house and study of the lasting impact on Stonehenge and its religious legacy.

The curriculum then moves to study the distant past at a global level. Reflecting the global links also made in the geography curriculum. The children begin by identifying the key ancient civilizations – Ancient Sumer; The Indus Valley; Ancient Egypt and The Shang Dynasty of Ancient China and consider different things in different parts of the world at the same time. 

They then move on to an in-depth study of Ancient Egypt and look at the achievements of the Ancient Egyptians. The children make valid observations, including that all ancient civilisations were built next to rivers, in particular the use they made of the River Nile and the land. Linking to the Geography curriculum, children develop an understanding of the importance of the River Nile for the daily life, further developing their skills from KS1, where they would have noted local industries were built next to rivers and how settlements developed. Children understand why and how pyramids were constructed, looking at the beliefs of the Egyptians and the impact of religion in building, making links to their earlier work on Stonehenge. The children will also study Howard Carter and his significance to the discovery of ancient Egyptian civilization which builds upon their knowledge of significant people from KS1.  

During the second year of the cycle, children take a more focused look at the chronology of history from the Greeks to the Romans, placing key eras and events in order on a timeline. The children will further develop their questioning skills with a focus on change, cause, similarity and difference and significance. During the study of Ancient Greece the children will look at Greek life, achievements and their influence on the Western world with a focus on laws and justice, architecture/buildings and travel. A key focus will be the trade links within this time and how it differed from Roman times. 

Finally, the children study the Romans and their impact on Britain with a particular focus on the impact of their technology, culture and beliefs and their legacy in the north west of English. This building on earlier work on culture and religion from previous years.

When studying the Romans, the children will narrow their focus to looking at Roman impact on Britain, comparing to the influence the Greeks had on Britain and how the Romans changed this. They will look at Roman invasion, travel, roads, settlements and architecture and compare this with the influences from the Greeks. The concept of invasion is considered closely, helping children to understand why people would want to invade others and the impact on society. They look at the invasion of Britain and study British resistance, in particular the role of Boudicca.

All work refers back to children’s prior knowledge from other time periods studied to make links and understand change over time. For example, in looking at homes children will refer back to prior knowledge about homes in Stone Age and Iron Age. Work on development of roads will refer back to the KS1 curriculum on the development of canals, railways and flight – always placing new learning in context of what children know already.

Upper Key Stage 2:

Through Upper Ley Stage 2, children will use and apply their understanding of chronology, developing and further creating their own time lines with their growing knowledge and critically appraising others based on their knowledge of chronology. Throughout the first part of the cycle, they will focus on ancient civilisations expansion and dissolution of empires. Building on from the Romans in Lower KS2, the children will study Britain’s settlement by Anglo Saxons and the Scots. The children will further develop their questioning skills about change and cause over time. Looking at the stark difference of settlements between Roman era and Anglo-Saxon times. Their prior knowledge of invasion and why it occurred will develop further from Lower KS2 as they look at invasion from Roman Britain to Viking times and the reasons why. The children will continue to develop their understanding of significant people from KS1 and study Alfred the Great and his impact.  They will further develop their chronological knowledge by studying the Anglo Saxon and Viking struggle for the Kingdom of England to the time of Edward the confessor.

In the subsequent terms, Upper KS2 will study the Mayan Civilisation and contrast with Britain at the time of 900AD, allowing the children to make contrasts and analyse trends and pose their own historically valid questions using their developed knowledge. The children will look at what the Maya people achieved and how it influenced the western world by looking at settlement, architecture and trade links. This develops further on from their study of the Greeks and Romans in Lower KS2 and supports the geography curriculum which looks at trade links and settlements in South America. They will do this by critically analysing evidence and use their own judgements to decide on which society was more advanced in 900 A.D. Britain or the Maya. 


During the second part of the cycle, as chronology moves closer to the present day, the children will study Wars through time from 1066 to present day including a local history study They will use their prior knowledge to gain historical perspective by placing their growing knowledge in to different contexts. The children will make connections and create their own structured accounts to analyse. 

The children will study the United Kingdom’s chronological past from 1066 to present day.  The children will use this information to create their own scaled timeline applying their mathematical knowledge. They will begin to understand civil wars and why the English civil war happened, linking to their prior knowledge of invasions from previous years. Following on from this, the children will look at the role the UK took in WW1 and WW2, examining why they started, how they affected people and the impact it had on the UK. This study of WW2 will link to the local history study of how WW2 impacted on the local community. The local history study will look at the important part Peover played in DD preparations, use of the area for training by General George Patton’s United States 3rd Army, Prisoner of War camps and how the local area played a significant part in this.