History Curriculum Rationale 2021/2022 

Article 29 of the UNCRC: a child or young person's education should help their mind, body, and talents be the best they can 

At Bridgelea we know that learning is a change to long-term memory.  Our aims are to ensure that our children experience a wide breadth of study and have, by the end of each key stage, long-term memory of knowledge and skills. 

At Bridgelea we want our children to love and understand history to a deeper level. We want them to have no limits to what their ambitions are and grow up wanting to be archivists, museum curators, archaeologists, or research analysts. The history curriculum has been carefully designed so that our children develop their historical capital. We want our children to remember their history lessons in our school, cherish these memories, and embrace the opportunities they are presented with!  

Curriculum Intent 

At Bridgelea we want our children to know more, do more, and remember more. Thinking is the process that precipitates such a change, a process involving our working memory. Many of the children at Bridgelea present with working memory deficits, as part of their SEMH, and it is crucial that we understand how this impacts children’s learning and how our curriculum and its implementation can limit the impact of these difficulties. Many of our children also have attention and concentration difficulties which can be a further barrier to effective learning.  

In History,we know that our children need additional opportunities to repeat the content as many times as necessary to deepen their understanding of historical concepts by the end of each milepost. 

Cognitive science tells us that working memory is limited and that cognitive load is too high if children are rushed through content. This limits the acquisition of long-term memory. Cognitive science also tells us that in order for children to become creative thinkers, or have a greater depth of understanding, they must first master the basics, which takes time.  

Foundations can’t be rushed, but in securing them, children will establish an excellent basis for progressing beyond basics toward greater depth. At Bridgelea children join at different points in their primary years, having experienced different curriculums in their previous schools. Ensuring that these foundations are secure can be a challenge.  

When designing the school’s curriculum, we know that repetition of skills is also important beyond fundamental foundations so that pupils: 

  • retain knowledge
  • gain a gradual, growing understanding of key concepts over time, rather than in a fixed block of time
  • re-visit the same knowledge, deepening understanding each time, through carefully planned activities that advance their understanding.

History key concepts, which we expect the children to develop, have been reviewed. These threshold concepts underpin all work in history and form a focal point for display areas and provide a common subject-specific vocabulary for staff and pupils. This is linked to National Curriculum: 

  • Chronological Understanding – time and events 
  • Contextual Knowledge and Conceptual Understanding – understanding people’s lives, changes that have happened, and how they compare to our lives. 
  • Historical Enquiry and Investigation – research events, ask questions, look at views and arguments and develop your own ideas. 


Key Stage 1 focuses on: 


  • Changes within Living Memory 
  • Local Area 
  • Significant Individuals 


Key Stage 2 they focus on: 

  • British History 
  • World History 
  • Local History 


Staff are expected to teach 45 Minutes of history each week, every alternative half term (approximately 6 hours per topic). Threshold concepts tie together the subject topics into meaningful schema. The same concepts are explored in a wide breadth of topics. Through this ‘forwards-and-backwards engineering’ of the curriculum, students return to the same concepts over and over, and gradually build understanding of them. 

Investigate and interpret the past 

  • This concept involves understanding that our understanding of the past comes from an interpretation of the available evidence. 


Build an overview of world history 

  • This concept involves an appreciation of the characteristic features of the past and an understanding that life is different for different sections of society. 


Understand chronology 

  • This concept involves an understanding of how to chart the passing of time and how some aspects of history studied were happening at similar times in different places. 

Communicate historically 

  • This concept involves using historical vocabulary and techniques to convey information about the past 


At Bridgelea we recap and review at the beginning of each session so children are revisiting prior learning. 

To support our children to use and apply their understanding of history, we make connections between history and other subject areas, creating a connected learning experience.This cultural capital gives our students the vital background knowledge required to be informed and thoughtful members of our community who understand and believe in British values and children’s rights. 

Curriculum Implementation 

Our curriculum design is based on evidence from cognitive science; three main principles underpin it: 

  • Learning is most effective with spaced repetition. 
  • Interleaving helps students to discriminate between topics and aids long-term retention. 
  • Retrieval of previously learned content is frequent and regular, which increases both storage and retrieval strength.  

At Bridgelea we believe in the fundamental foundations of our history curriculum, and understand that it is important not to rush through content and to ensure that children have a strong basic understanding of each key concept. This is even more important given our children's SEND needs. Within each milepost children will meet each concept multiple times to secure fundamental foundations. As their understanding deepens, they apply these foundations in order to reach the expected standard for that Key Stage. Teachers are developing the use of PoP (Proof of Progress) tasks to help them assess a secure understanding of the fundamental foundations of History. 

History and Metacognition 

As a school we are currently working towards a ‘Thinking School’ accreditation. We are working hard to embed a whole school approach, resulting in a common language and framework, which enables children to talk explicitly about thinking and to understand there are different kinds of thinking. In History, we use the’ Thinking Frames’ to help children to organise their thinking. Teachers are trained to use the Thinking Frames to support children to create increasingly sophisticated mental models to scaffold fundamental foundations. Thinking Frames are also used to support children to apply their understanding of History as their learning becomes deeper. 

Files to Download

Student Login