Key Concepts at Key Stage 3

Key Concepts

Published: 15th October 2011

Please note: This unit was produced before the 2014 National Curriculum and therefore while much of the advice is still useful, there may be some out of date references or links. For more recent resources on key concepts, see our What's the Wisdom on series.

The key concepts can be divided into three types: 

  • change and continuity; cause and consequence; diversity; and significance, which inform the types of questions historians ask about past events, people and situations, and which are sometimes called second-order concepts;
  • chronological understanding, which provides a framework for comprehending the past;
  • interpretations of history, which is about analysing how and why the past has been interpreted in different ways. 

This unit will cover significance, diversity, interpretations, chronology, cause and consequence and change and continuity.

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Chronological Understanding

  • Chronological understanding
  • Planning for Chronology
  • Ideas for CPD
  • Teaching Strategies
  • Developing chronological understanding in Year 9
  • Developing chronological understanding in Year 11
  • Further Reading & Resources


  • Cultural, ethnic and religious diversity
  • Scheme of Work
  • Diversity over a three-year key stage 3

Change & Continuity

  • Introduction
  • Discussion Paper
  • Planning
  • INSET activities
  • Further Reading

Cause & Consequence

  • Introduction
  • Historical explanation (1)
  • Historical explanation (2)
  • Key Principles
  • Resources
  • Ideas for departmental inset
  • References


  • Introduction
  • Ideas for CPD
  • Resource 1: Bosworth
  • Resource 2: Significant Individuals
  • Further Reading


  • Introduction
  • Ideas for CPD