Film: Primary History and the Ofsted Inspection Framework

Published: 17th June 2021

In May of 2021, Ofsted published a blog post of findings from visits carried out to 24 different primary schools in order to gather evidence as to the quality of history education provided by these outstanding schools. You can find the blog here: 

Areas of both strength and improvement were outlined, although the areas of improvement provided daunting reading for many primary teachers who do not have a history degree or subject specific training in the teaching of history.  

Tim Jenner, the Ofsted Subject Lead for History, gave a clear and informative keynote session at the Historical Association 2021 virtual annual conference which not only gave a clear picture of what a deep dive in history might involve, but also dispelled myths about what Ofsted would and would not expect to see during a deep dive in history and more generally from history provision in a school. Ofsted do not expect any particular approach or language to be used; their key questions are rather more simply:  

  • Does your curriculum have sufficient breadth and challenge? 
  • Does your curriculum enable pupils to make good progress?  

You can view the full keynote talk from Tim Jenner below. 

Teaching primary history through concepts

One of the key areas picked up by the Ofsted blog was in the teaching of disciplinary thinking. In his keynote address, Tim Jenner noted that this does not and should not be taught separately to children in isolation without context, but rather that within a specific context, children should be able to progress in their disciplinary thinking and they should be exposed to the ways in which historians construct claims. We have produced a guide to unpack disciplinary thinking in history.

This guide, written by Andrew Wrenn unacks each of the concepts that make up disciplinary thinking in school history and provides examples of context in which they might be addressed. Children should be exposed to explicitly taught substantive concepts through specific historical contexts while also developing their historical thinking. You can download the full guide below (bottom of the page) along with this guide to the Ofsted deep dive produced in 2019.

This resource is FREE for Primary HA Members.

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