In Key Stage 1, the focus of history is very much on locally significant events or events within own memories, as well as key events of great significance such as Bonfire Night. In addition, children will find out about important historical people and events, such as Florence Nightingale and The Great Fire of London.
In Key Stage 2, there are nine main areas of study that are required, some of which have optional strands. The first four are units relating to British history and are intended to begin the development of a clear chronological understanding. In many schools these will be taught in chronological order. For example: Britain in the Stone, Bronze and Iron Ages moving on to Roman Britain; Anglo-Saxons and Scots in Britain to the Anglo-Saxons and Vikings. Schools often incorporate a local history as well as a study of a period after 1066 of the school’s choice. History outside of Britain includes: Ancient Greece and a choice from Ancient Egypt, Ancient Sumer, or the Shang Dynasty of Ancient China. A choice from 10th-century early Islamic civilisation, Mayan civilisation or Benin in West Africa is encouraged.
The national curriculum for history aims to ensure that all pupils:
- know and understand the history of these islands as a coherent, chronological narrative, from the earliest times to the present day: how people’s lives have shaped this nation and how Britain has influenced and been influenced by the wider world
- know and understand significant aspects of the history of the wider world: the nature of ancient civilisations; the expansion and dissolution of empires; characteristic features of past non-European societies; achievements and follies of mankind
- gain and deploy a historically grounded understanding of abstract terms such as ‘empire’, ‘civilisation’, ‘parliament’ and ‘peasantry’
- understand historical concepts such as continuity and change, cause and consequence, similarity, difference and significance, and use them to make connections, draw contrasts, analyse trends, frame historically valid questions and create their own structured accounts, including written narratives and analyses
- understand the methods of historical enquiry, including how evidence is used rigorously to make historical claims, and discern how and why contrasting arguments and interpretations of the past have been constructed
- gain historical perspective by placing their growing knowledge into different contexts: understanding the connections between local, regional, national and international history; between cultural, economic, military, political, religious and social history; and between short- and long-term timescales