Enquiries

A key cornerstone of history is historical enquiry. Quality history provision has historical enquiry at its heart. Through historical enquiry children can be shown how to ask questions, select and evaluate evidence and to make judgments about the past. It can also be a vital way of showing them that there is often more than one side to a story and that history is multi-perspective. Historical enquiry is all about asking questions or hypothesising  about the past that we hope the evidence will help us to answer, but getting the enquiry question right is not always easy. In this section you will find resources and guidance that will help you to plan challenging enquiries for your children that will help them to develop as historians.

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  • Making the most of a census

    Article

    Read more like this: Effectively using the census in the classroom Victorian child labour in textile factories This article looks at how children can utilise and manipulate mathematical data to make sense of a historic past. The focus is on helping children see the numbers as a resource for understanding the...

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  • Scheme of Work: Comparing Ancient Civilisations

    Article

    What do all the Ancient Civilisations have in common? This enquiry provides an overview of the Ancient Civilisations of Egypt, Sumer, Indus Valley and Shang, showing where and when they developed, the similarities between them and how they relate to a broadly based chronological understanding of the past. It provides a...

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  • The history of medicine – warts and all – for Key Stage 2

    Article

    The story of the history of medicine is HUGE! In fact, it’s a story within story within a story… You only have to note the substantial amounts that have been written on the subject in the past, to realise that this is a story that could baffle and perplex even...

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  • Women in parliament since 1918

    Article

    At the 1918 election just one woman, Constance Markievicz, won a seat, in Dublin, for Sinn Fein. She was in prison at the time. At the time, of course, the whole of Ireland was part of the United Kingdom. All 73 Sinn Fein MPs refused to take up their seats, and...

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  • To boldly go: exploring the explorers

    Article

    Exploration and a curiosity about the world are key human characteristics that have shaped and continue to shape our behaviour. Nowhere is this more true than with younger children who relish the opportunity to investigate their environment and all it contains. Promoting this natural curiosity and introducing stimulating challenge should...

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  • Strange goings-on: exploring the benefits of learning history through outdoor pedagogy

    Article

    Learning history outside the classroom has tremendous benefits. This article looks at one such example where children can get an immersive, residential historical experience. This not only provides a memorable learning experience, but the combination of an evocative setting, together with carefully crafted activities taught using an outdoor pedagogy, allows...

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  • Scheme of Work: The Blitz: all we need to know about World War II?

    Article

    This unit provides children with the opportunity to look at World War II as an aspect of British history that extends pupils’ chronological knowledge beyond 1066. This 8-part enquiry is useable in full or to use sections of as stand alone shorter enquiries. Pupils will be encouraged to examine different...

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  • For whose God, King and country? Seeing the First World War through South Asian eyes

    Article

    Article from Primary History 79 In October 1914 France faced defeat on what would later become the Western Front. If the Germans captured the channel ports then the small British Expeditionary Force (BEF) supporting the French would be cut off from Britain, and the channel ports themselves might be used to launch...

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  • Scheme of Work: Waterloo and the Age of Revolutions

    Article

    This scheme of work explores the 'Age of Revolutions' period across the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. It was written for the Historical Association by Karin Doull to supplement the Age of Revolutions Teacher Fellowship Programme, which is funded by Waterloo 200. The Napoleonic wars shaped their age: children...

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  • A trail of garnet and gold: Sri Lanka to Anglo-Saxon England

    Article

    Sri Lankan garnet in Anglo-Saxon graves?  In 2009 news broke of a fabulous hoard of gold and garnet military ornaments unearthed in a Staffordshire field. TV reports mentioned the garnet might have come from Sri Lanka or India, but how could it have got here? I began reading up what used to be called ‘The Dark...

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  • Ideas for Assemblies: Refugee stories

    Article

    An assembly could focus on the achievements of their lives, experiences as child refugees and migrants, and how they overcame their difficulties. Their stories can be compared and contrasted with other refugees, such as children from the Kindertransport and child refugees in Europe today. It is important that children understand the term ‘refugee’...

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  • The gall nuts and lapis trail

    Article

    We are used to images of monks copying out texts in a very ornate manner. Books such as the Lindisfarne Gospels still absolutely amaze us with their colour, style and appearance. It must have taken hours and hours to copy out a text like that. But how was it done? And how did the monks make the inks they...

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  • Bringing the Civil War to life in Somerset

    Article

    As a lecturer in education teaching humanities at Plymouth University, I spend my time encouraging student teachers to move away from writing lesson plans with a focus on research and recording, to creating lessons that are dynamic – engaging children in historical activities to develop a passion for history. Student...

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  • Making the most of the post-1066 unit

    Article

    Making the most of the post-1066 unit: looking at continuity and change over 10,000 years The ‘aspect or theme of British history that extends pupils’ chronological knowledge beyond 1066’ unit is designed to extend the period of study beyond 1066 to help pupils develop a coherent picture of British  history....

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  • Teaching pre-history outside the classroom

    Article

    From a visit to a local museum or heritage site, to using bushcraft skills to give pupils first-hand experience of what it might have been like to live in ancient times, teaching prehistory outside the classroom can really give this area of the curriculum the wow factor. The inclusion of...

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  • What confuses primary children in history...

    Article

    Young children who automatically see shiny things as new no matter what their age, those who mix up technology from one age with another, those who dismiss people in the past as stupid because they did not have the possessions we have today, those who equate the age of a...

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  • HA Enquiry Toolkit

    Article

    An enquiry approach is becoming more popular for teaching many primary curriculum subjects. However, enquiry has always been the backbone of good history teaching. Knowing what constitutes a good historical enquiry and how to build one that will enable your pupils to get better at history is not as easy...

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  • Learning Outside the Classroom

    Article

    In recent times, it is easy to recognize that there has been a general move towards promoting outside activities across all manner of organizations and groups. For instance, organisations such as The National Trust and Ordnance Survey are keen to promote outdoor experiences in their literature. An online presence advocates...

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  • Local history and a sense of identity

    Article

    The history co-ordinator often finds some real challenges as well as opportunities in addressing local history in primary schools. The advantages are well rehearsed – making history relevant to the lives of the children and giving them an improved sense of identity and place through engagement with the ‘real thing’....

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  • Teaching the First World War in the primary school

    Article

    The current commemorations of the First World War have opened the door to some real opportunities for those teaching primary history – perhaps even considering taking children to the battlefields. Although this is customarily a secondary-school experience, this article outlines the opportunities for primary-age children. The suggestions here are based...

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