Organising history within the curriculum

Please note: this guide was written before the 2014 National Curriculum and some of the advice may no longer be relevant.
For more up-to-date guidance see:

How history is organised and taught in your school will depend on the school's size, philosophy, priorities, development plan, budget and staff expertise.

Over the seven years of primary schooling, your school must plan for teaching the full programme of study for history. How is this best done?

Key stage 1

In years 1 and 2, history can form a major part of integrated topics such as Flight or Toys and Games. As long as you address the knowledge, skills and understanding (KSU) and give children a chance to develop a sense of period, you can deliver children's entitlement to history.

The Department for Education allows for a range of topic choices, moving from the local to the British and world stages. Schools have the freedom to use their local area and the interest and expertise of teachers (and others) to develop a broad, rich KS1 history curriculum.

Key stage 2

How do you fit the six history studies into the four years of KS2? You could do one history topic a year for two years, and two a year for the other two years. Or, you could break up or add to history units, so that the pupils experience history at least twice every year. Alternatively, you could combine some units to give a total of four, that is, one a year - see below.

Combining History Study Units

Romans, Anglo-Saxons and Vikings in Britain
can combine with Local history

Britain and the wider world in Tudor times
can combine with Local history; World history study: Aztecs

Victorian Britain or Britain since 1930
can combine with Local history; World history study: Benin

European history study: Ancient Greece
can combine with Ancient Egypt (to some extent)

History and other subjects

Traditionally history has been linked with geography. This makes sense, as all history is concerned with place as well as with time. Maps and plans and patterns of human settlement are an intrinsic part of history.

History study units can combine equally well with art, design & technology, religious studies, music, drama, numeracy, and science.

For example, in our Year 3 teaching, the creation of a Roman market involved numeracy (market goods priced realistically, trading with 'real' Roman money) and art (the children spent a week making Roman pottery and mosaics, knives and jewellery, and drawing pictorial advertisements for their stalls). See Roman market

One of our Year 4/5 classes built working models of ancient boats, a design & technology project as much as a history one.

History through drama can be seen at work in the lessons on this website: Sumerian mystery; Ghetto diary; Investigating Victorian mining disasters.

We regard ICT as a tool rather than as a subject. Teachers and children are increasingly using interactive whiteboards, the internet, word processing, databases, spreadsheets, art and presentation programmes, digital cameras, and video recording/editing as part of their teaching and learning.

Lessons on this site with a large ICT component are: Investigating Victorian mining disasters; Child labour in the textile factories; Ancient Greek myths.

However, the subject history works most closely with is Literacy.

See also:

History and Literacy

Speaking and listening

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