Aims and purposes of history

History teaching offers opportunities to:

  • develop student's sense of identity through learning about the development of Britain, Europe and the world;

  • introduce students to what is involved in understanding and interpreting the past.

  • learn about the past in Britain and the wider world;

  • consider how the past influences the present;

  • find out about what past societies were like, how these societies organised themselves, and what beliefs and cultures influenced people's actions;

  • develop a chronological framework;

  • see the diversity of human experience and understand more about themselves as individuals and members of society;

  • reflect on personal choices, attitudes and values;

  • use evidence, weigh it up and reach own conclusions;

  • research, sift through evidence and argue a point of view.

Content of history

History is about people and important events and developments from recent and more distant times in the locality, in Britain and in other parts of the world.

In History students learn about key aspects of British, European and world history. They show their understanding by making connections between events and changes in the different periods and areas studied, and by comparing the structure of societies and economic, cultural and political developments. They evaluate and use sources of information, using their historical knowledge to analyse the past and explain how it can be represented and interpreted in different ways.


  • learn about familiar and famous people and about events from the recent and more distant past in Britain and elsewhere, making links across different periods of history;

  • look for similarities and differences between life today and in the past and use common words associated with the passing of time;

  • discuss and write about what happened or changed, why people acted as they did, and what the results were;

  • carry out historical enquiries using a variety of sources of information and look at how and why the past is interpreted in different ways;

  • use their understanding of chronology and historical terms when talking or writing about the past.

Language and communication


  • develop language skills through talking about their work and presenting their own ideas using sustained and systematic writing of different kinds;

  • use historical language and draw maps and diagrams to communicate historical information;

  • read historical fiction and non-fiction and extract information from sources such as reference books and the Internet.

Values and attitudes


  • learn about the experiences of people in the past, and why they acted as they did;

  • develop respect for and tolerance of other people and cultures;

  • learn how people in the past have changed the society in which they lived;

  • develop respect for evidence and the ability to be critical of the evidence;

  • develop an understanding of right and wrong and the ability to handle moral dilemmas in a responsible way.

Building on children's earlier experiences

These experiences are likely to have included:

  • talking about their families and past and present events in their own lives;

  • showing sensitivity to the needs and feelings of others;

  • showing respect for people of other cultures and beliefs;

  • listening and responding to stories, songs, nursery rhymes and poems;

  • taking part in role plays;

  • exploring objects and looking closely at similarities, differences, patterns and change;

  • comparing, sorting, matching, ordering and sequencing everyday objects;

  • talking about their observations and asking questions to gain information about why things happen and how things work.

Features of progression

Progress in history can be characterised by:

  • asking and answering more complex questions;

  • making links and connections between different areas of learning;

  • recognising patterns and categorising;

  • understanding more abstract concepts;

  • providing more reasoned explanations;

  • understanding what is more and less important;

  • appreciating the relevance of learning;

  • using a greater depth and range of historical knowledge to back up judgements;

  • becoming independent in learning.

  • deepening understanding of general and specific historical concepts;

an increasing ability to apply skills and conceptual understanding across a variety of historical contexts;

  • an increasing ability to communicate knowledge and understanding using language appropriately and accurately.