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History at Rivelin

"A people without a knowledge of their past history, origin and culture is like a tree without roots"

Marcus Garvey

History at Rivelin teaches our children not just knowledge about Britain and the wider world in the past but it promotes critical thinking and the ability to weigh up evidence and develop perspective and judgement.

Our high-quality history curriculum helps our children gain a coherent knowledge and understanding of Britain’s past and that of the wider world. It inspires pupils’ curiosity to know more about the past. Teaching should equip pupils to ask perceptive questions, think critically, weigh evidence, sift arguments, and develop perspective and judgement. History helps pupils to understand the complexity of people’s lives, the process of change, the diversity of societies and relationships between different groups, as well as their own identity and the challenges of their time.

Rivelin historians will have the opportunity to learn about methods of historical enquiry and how evidence can be used in formulating arguments and interpretations of the past.

History teaching at Rivelin is based on the following 'Historical Skills'. The aim of these skills is to equip the children with the tools they need to become excellent historians. These will be taught to the children in every lesson so they become embedded. 

  1. Chronological understanding
    2. Cultural, ethnic and religious diversity
    3. Change and continuity
    4. Cause and consequence
    5. Significant individuals 
    6. Interpretation
    7. Similarities and difference 

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At Rivelin We teach history through carefully planned Units of Work, 3 in each academic year. We always try to include a quality key text so that the children learn from a rich variety of literature. 

Oracy skills are a key part of our History curriculum and woven throughout all our History lessons.


The impact of quality history teaching alongside exciting topics will help children gain a wealth of knowledge about the past and help them to understand their place in the world. The curriculum will challenge our children to make sense of similarities and differences across time. Children's learning will be measured through quizzes, creative activities, their spoken responses to questions and their recorded work in their Discovery books.


In EYFS my history learning will be focused around myself and important people around me.  I will:

  • Learn about chronology on a timeline through looking at grandparents, parents and brothers and sisters. I will learn about the passage of time, which will be enhanced by learning about the school day and important terms like before, after, next and then.


  • My learning about the seasons will build on the idea of change and continuity, as well as the concept of chronology. I will experience the changing seasons and their importance first hand with seasonal walks through the Rivelin Valley (one walk per season).


  • The idea of significant individuals will be taught through thinking and discussing important people to me, such as parents and grandparents.


  • I will begin to understand important terms such as past, present, yesterday, tomorrow, change and continuity.










Communication is at the heart of our EYFS curriculum. From Nursery, children are taught key historical vocabulary which is then built upon as they progress through KS1 and KS2. Simple words such as time, day, today, yesterday, tomorrow, future - are thoroughly embedded into children’s vocabulary, by saying these words frequently, in context, through stories and poems, and explaining what they mean.


 Through our cross curricular curiosity based approach the children learn many historical skills and concepts. Planting potatoes and daffodil bulbs helps the children to appreciate difficult concepts such as the passing of time. Keeping an incubator to observe eggs hatching into chicks, and nurturing caterpillars to butterflies, helps the children to appreciate growth, change and life cycles. Our Understanding of the World curriculum in EYFS is rich with first hand experiences which support the development of important concepts which feed into later learning. We observe the passing of time and the changing of the seasons. We explore growth and decay through our growing, gardening and allotment opportunities.


                                                           KEY STAGE 1

In Year 1 I will:

Build on my understanding of chronology when learning about how I have changed over time through using a timeline. My learning from EYFS about the passage of time with the seasons will be reactivated with regular seasonal walks. We will look at a range of different sources and evidence to understand how homes have changed over time, but also how some things have stayed the same. We will look at how homes have changed hugely from the past, and learn that many buildings in the area are Victorian (including Rivelin Primary School). This will help anchor my understanding of the past. I will also learn how household tasks such as washing clothes, which is a relatively easy task today, was an extremely time consuming and difficult job in the past. This will reinforce the idea of how things change over time. 

My understanding of change and continuity will be reinforced when we learn about toys and how they have been transformed from toys our parents and grandparents played with in the past. Our learning about the bravery and determination of Florence Nightingale and Mary Seacole will teach me about significant individuals from the past, as well as thinking about the different experiences of both.

Towards the end of Year 1, I will begin to learn about the city London and ideas such as a monarch through purposeful story time. This will provide me with a good foundation for my History learning in Year 2.

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In Year 2 I will:

Learn about London as a city and as a place. My learning about the Great Fire Of London will teach me that London was very different in 1666 to today but in some ways it is similar (a monarch on the throne for example). This will reinforce the ideas of change and continuity. We will learn that the Great Fire had many causes (dry summer, wooden houses, cramped streets) and many consequences (wider streets, houses after were made from stone not wood) which changed London forever. We will look at how we remember the past through significant individuals such as Samuel Pepys and unpick how we know about the Great Fire through looking at a range of sources and evidence.

I will learn about the Victorian era and how this period transformed Britain forever, from the birth of the railways to people moving to big cities for work. This will help my understanding of cause and consequence. I will also begin to place this period in chronological order compared to the Great Fire and today on a timeline.

My learning about Scott Of The Antarctic and his doomed voyage to the South Pole will build on my knowledge of a significant individual from our past as well as help me understand a range of sources and evidence.

Towards the end of Year 2, I will enjoy stories and non-fiction books which focus on Ancient Egypt and the Stone Age. This will be an important foundation for Year 3 learning. 


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    Key Stage 2                       

To build on the strong foundations in Key Stage 1, in Key Stage 2 we cover a broad range of time periods to allow the children to develop a well rounded view of history. Throughout each of these topics, the children will learn to apply historical skills as well as asking historical questions to enhance their knowledge. 


In Year 3 I will:

Learn about the 3 main eras of the Stone Age: the Paleolithic period (where humans resided mainly in caves; the Mesolithic (or Middle Stone Age), and Neolithic (or New Stone Age), where humans began to use tools. This period marked a huge shift for humanity, taking humans from predominately hunter-gatherers to moving towards farming and food production. As a result, this will really help my understanding of change and continuity. I will learn that the Stone Age period lasted for many thousands of years and how this is a unique period of time in its longevity. This will help my understanding of chronology. I will try and solve the mystery of Stonehenge as well as how the developments in this period eventually led to the Iron Age and how this made Britain an attractive prospect for future invaders and settlers (such as the Romans, Anglo Saxons and the Vikings).

I will learn about Ancient Egypt and how we should remember it. I will be able to place this period on a timeline with other historical periods I have learnt about so far on my history journey. I will look at a range of primary and secondary sources to unpick this area of learning.

Through my learning about the Titanic, I will learn about not only the disaster and its causes, but also what this tells us about the attitudes of society and the treatment of different groups in society at this time.

Towards the end of Year 3, I will be exposed to a range of stories and texts such as Horrible Histories, which lay the foundations for key ideas like Catholics, Protestants and some of the key monarchs like Henry VIII and Elizabeth I. This will be an important starting point for my learning in Year 4.

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Manor Lodge Trip

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In Year 4 I will:

Build on my understanding of the ideas of monarchy, power, Catholic and Protestant through my learning about Tudor Britain. I will learn that Henry VIII changed Britain forever when he broke with the Catholic Church, his reasons for doing this, and how this led Britain to becoming a mainly Protestant country. I will be able to place the Tudor period on a timeline. I will learn that following Henry’s death, Mary and Edward were on the throne and what Britain was like in this period.  My leaning about Elizabeth I will focus on how she brought stability to Britain and how, in defeating the might Spanish Armada and her encouragement of pioneering explorers like Francis Drake, paved the way to Britain becoming a mighty power in the world and the early days of Britain as an empire. This learning will really enhance the concepts of change and continuity, cause and consequence and significant individuals.

Building on the crucial idea of empire, I will learn about two very important empires in Year 4, the Romans and the Ancient Greeks. I will learn what the Roman Empire was, why the Romans would want to invade rainy, cold Britain (resources, power) and how their invasion transformed Britain for good. This will reinforce the idea of continuity and change. I will also learn about the reasons why the mighty Roman Empire came to an end. My work in Literacy and the book ‘Assassin’ will reinforce and help embed key learning about the Romans.

My study of Ancient Greece will help me understand important ideas like democracy, citizenship and invasion. I will learn why Athens became the most powerful of the Greek states and unpick what life was like for Ancient Greeks through a range of primary sources (pottery) and secondary sources. I will learn about the lasting legacy of the Ancient Greeks through ideas of democracy, the Olympic Games and even on our language.

Towards the end of Y5 I should be exposed to stories and texts that will lay foundations for Anglo-Saxons and the Vikings (Horrible Histories for example).

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In Year 5 I will:

I will learn about the exciting topics of the Anglo-Saxons and the Vikings. I will learn that the Anglo-Saxons were German speaking people who settled in England between the 5th Century and the 11th Century and that this period ended with the Norman Invasion of 1066. I will look at the causes and the consequences of why the Anglo-Saxons settled in Britain - both push and the pull factors. I will learn that the Anglo-Saxons brought their own pagan gods and religion to Britain, but, over time they slowly converted to Christianity. I will solve the mystery of Sutton Hoo and what this tells us about Anglo-Saxon life. Finally, I will learn about the significant individual Alfred the Great and how he successfully defended Wessex from the Vikings and the eventual cooperation with the Vikings. The many changes that happened during this period will help me understand the concept of continuity and change.

I will then turn my focus towards the Vikings and how we should remember them beyond just settlers and invaders. I will learn why Viking people wanted to settle in Britain and what life was like for ordinary people in Viking Britain. I will use sources and evidence to help me do this. I will link my learning to the Anglo-Saxons and Alfred the Great when I look at how close the Vikings came to conquering Britain completely and what stopped this (Alfred’s actions).

I will learn where both these closely-related periods lie on a chronological timeline.

By the end of Year 5, I will turn my learning towards slavery. I will learn what slavery is, what caused the slave trade to start, what allowed it to continue for hundreds of years, and the consequences for the USA and Britain. I will learn about what life was like for a slave in the USA. I will learn about how slaves resisted through the Underground Railroad. Finally, I will learn about the ending of slavery through: the abolitionist movement led by the significant individuals such as William Wilberforce and the role Abraham Lincoln played in formally ending slavery in the USA. By the end of the unit, I will reflect upon what slavery says about the societies of the past and its treatment of different groups and how that corresponds to the present day.

In Year 5, I will be read stories that touch upon the Mayans and WW2, laying good foundations for my history learning in Y6.

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In Year 6 I will:

I will learn about causes and consequences through WW2 and looking at the big question: Why did the Nazis lose the Second World War? I will learn about what caused the Nazis to invade Poland in 1939 and the consequences of that decision. I will look at why Britain was able to stand firm against the Nazi threat in 1940. We will study what it was life was like for children who were evacuated and why that was necessary, before looking at life on the Home Front generally and how we know so much about that period of life in Britain. This unit will help me learn about the significant individuals Winston Churchill and Adolf Hitler. We will also look at how the Nazis treated different groups during this period.

During the exciting topic the Mayans, I will develop my knowledge of empires further, when we study why the mighty Mayan empire of Mesoamerica (present day Mexico) collapsed so suddenly. We will learn why the Mayans are an important area to study (looking at the idea that even mighty empires can suddenly fall) before looking at why the Mayans were able to grow so powerful in the first place. I will use sources and evidence to understand what life was like for Mayan people day to day. Finally, we will look at why the Mayan empire collapsed following the arrival of Spanish colonisers in the 16th century.


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RivelinPrimary school

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