“The more you know about the past, the better prepared you are for the future.”

Theodore Roosevelt

At English Martyrs Primary School, we believe in a high-quality history curriculum that is accessible to all children and that will maximise the outcomes for every child so that they know more, remember more and therefore understand more. Our teaching of history will help pupils gain a secure knowledge and understanding about the lives of significant people and events in Britain’s past and of the wider world. The history curriculum has been designed and structured chronologically to allow the children to make links between current and previous learning. At English Martyrs Primary School, we have a particular focus on our locality which enables our children to develop a sense of identity. Our children investigate and interpret the past as well as think like and become historians. It is important for children to develop a sense of identity through learning about the past and we want them to know how history has shaped their own lives. This is why the local area is fully utilised to achieve the curriculum outcomes. 

We want our children to be curious about the past and to have the skills required to explore their own interests. History lessons at English Martyrs focus on working as historians and developing historical skills and there are many opportunities for the curriculum to be enriched through historical visits.

Our history planning for learning carefully maps out the progression of knowledge and understanding and is connected by reference to golden threads or substantive concepts. Substantive concepts thread through each year group, and are covered in a wide breadth of topics across the school, which allows the children to revisit and build on previous learning. Our children are able to explore content in increasing depth and complexity as they move through school. This approach allows us to make connections across the curriculum, whilst also developing the children’s understanding of what makes history distinct and unique. 

English Martyrs Substantive Concepts 

Settlements – How and why human settlements have grown and changed over time.

Trade – How people have grown, extracted and made food, drink, raw materials, goods and artefacts at different periods in the past and how these have been traded locally, regionally and globally.

Power – How and why people, tribes, countries and civilisations have competed with, sought domination and settled peacefully with others, including the impact on how life has changed for people as a result.
Society – How and why different people, tribes, countries and civilisations have chosen to organise their society, including systems of government and  laws, social hierarchies, religion and culture.


Key knowledge and skills that children acquire and develop throughout each topic have been mapped out to ensure progression between year groups throughout the school. For topics which are revisited, for example rainforests, which is taught in year 4 and year 6, clear progression can be seen so that children are building on their previous knowledge. Each new topic is introduced with reference to the chronology of previous topics, including those from previous years. The STEM sentence, ‘meanwhile elsewhere … ’ is revisited throughout school to challenge the children’s understanding of what is happening elsewhere in the world. 

Teachers use a variety of teaching and learning styles in their history lessons to develop pupils’ knowledge, skills and understanding. At English Martyrs we recognise the varying needs of all our learners, and so differentiate activities where necessary and as appropriate, and ensure an appropriate level of challenge is carefully planned for during each history lesson. Outcomes of work are regularly monitored to ensure that they reflect a sound understanding of the key identified knowledge.

The Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) follows the ‘Development Matters in the EYFS’ guidance which aims for all children in reception to have an ‘Understanding of the World: People and Communities, the world and technology’ by the end of the academic year. We have used this guidance to inform our knowledge and skills progression maps for the Early Years. The children are given opportunities to explore the past through their environment, family history and stories. Children are encouraged to talk about past and present events in their own lives and the lives of family members as well as ask and answer questions, thinking about why things happen and giving an explanation. 


The history curriculum at English Martyrs helps pupils to make sense of the present as well as the past. Our children are equipped with historical skills and knowledge which enable them to make progress throughout the history curriculum. Our children have the ability to think critically about history and communicate ideas confidently. They evaluate and challenge their own and others’ views using a range of sources to support their learning. 

Assessment in history is an ongoing process. Teachers will make informal judgements about pupils’ progress and attainment as they observe them throughout lessons and mark their work. Feedback is continually given to children to encourage better outcomes. 

Outcomes in history books evidence a broad and balanced history curriculum and demonstrate the childrens’ acquisition of identified key knowledge. 

Our aim is to nurture our children on their journey through primary school so that they can grow into caring, responsible, democratic and tolerant members of our communities who can, and will make, a positive difference to society across Britain and the world.


Updated: 22/12/2023 118 KB
Updated: 22/12/2023 107 KB