History in England’s primary schools: What do secondary history teachers need to know?

HA Update

By Ailsa Fidler, published 21st September 2022

History in England’s primary schools

What’s been happening in primary history lately? Invited to write an update on this, I decided to identify some themes that might be helpful to secondary teachers. 

As a senior lecturer in primary education with responsibility for history and as a member of the HA Primary Committee, I was able to find out from primary teachers and history subject leaders what they would most like secondary colleagues to know. I also asked primary colleagues on Twitter to complete a quick survey. From the survey responses and from other conversations, I selected the following themes:

  • the impact of policy and inspection changes (the 2014 National Curriculum and the 2019 Education Inspection Framework);
  • the wider teaching of writing in primary schools and how this affects history;
  • teaching history to pupils with SEND;
  • opportunities for collaborative transition.

Of course, there is more to primary history than the implementation and inspection of national policy! The most important thing to know is that primary pupils love history! Ofsted itself has often referred to primary pupils’ excitement and joy in studying the subject. Nonetheless, secondary history teachers may find it helpful to know how primary schools have responded to recent changes and how wider aspects of primary education affect the way history is taught. Each of these underlines what is distinctive and unique about the primary phase and what secondary colleagues can do to build effectively on it.

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