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Water Mill

Primary School

Anything is possible

History at Water Mill

Water Mill Primary School



At Water Mill, we believe that history is an essential part of the curriculum; a subject that not only stands alone, but also is woven and should be an integral part of all learning. Through the study of events and people from the past we see our values of integrity, caring, respect and creativity in action. The intent for history at Water Mill is to deliver the national curriculum in an engaging, exciting way.

History has had an impact on the lives and experiences of everyone today. We live in the society that has been shaped by significant events and people of the past. It is important for children to understand cultural, national and international history as a way of creating a shared identity and interconnections. An engaging and active history curriculum can help to raise cultural capital and develop connections through people and events in different places and different times. Through teaching history, the school aims to equip our children to use critical thinking and creativity to understand the way that the world is always changing. Interesting, inspiring and challenging events of the past give children an enthusiasm and intrigue that will feed into other areas of learning, as these skills are transferrable.



At Water Mill the history curriculum is taught through themed activities relating to a specific event, person or time. Key concepts have been identified that are taught, discussed and developed during their time at the school. These concepts enable pupils to apply the knowledge and skills gained to different historical studies. The idea behind a concept-led, enquiry based curriculum is that it helps to focus learning and ensure a knowledge rich education that is taught, remembered, stored in long-term memory and built on.

Our history curriculum is planned to deliver knowledge and understanding of people, events and contexts from a range of historical periods, including significant events in Britain’s past, and to give our pupils:

  • The ability to think critically about history and communicate ideas confidently to a range of audiences
  • The ability to support, evaluate and challenge their own and others’ views using historical evidence from a range of sources
  • The ability to think, reflect, debate, discuss and evaluate the past by formulating and refining questions and lines of enquiry
  • A respect for historical evidence and the ability to make critical use of it to support their learning
  • A desire to embrace challenging activities, including opportunities to undertake high-quality research across a range of history topics
  • A developing sense of curiosity about the past and how and why people interpret the past in different ways


The children will begin by learning about small snapshots of history by considering changes within living memory to help children to understand how history is always being made. They will also look at local history in order for children to understand how their homes have been affected by people and events around them, giving them a regional identity. They will start to look at history on a global scale by looking at significant people and events from the past.

Later children will begin to study specific periods in a chronological order. Children will continue to develop the concepts of historical enquiry by beginning to differentiate between primary and secondary sources and make independent evaluations of historical events. They will be able to build up an understanding of chronology from ancient history to modern history.

Through their studies key aspects of history will be discussed and revisited so that they can draw comparisons, identify change and understand how history has shaped the world today. These key aspects are:


  • Daily life: to include food, religion, education, clothing, employment
  • Settlements: to include trade, empire building, homes
  • Legacy:  how this historical event/person influenced the future

The progression in skills and knowledge will help children to build on these throughout the primary curriculum and will equip them as they move into higher education and beyond.


Key Concepts

The key concepts that are studied and revisited in history in each year group are:


Context and chronology

This concept is about considering the order in which things happened, using dates, vocabulary and chronological conventions. It is about building up an historical overview or framework of periods and themes. It is about placing events in their broader historical context. Understanding that contexts can provide preconditions, triggers or catalysts that shape and influence, for example, when an event or outcome occurred, where it occurred and the manner in which it occurred.

Historical enquiry and interpretation

Historical enquiry is the process by which pupils use the same methods as a professional historian when investigating an aspect of history. Children will develop their understanding of historical enquiry by asking and framing question; undertaking research; making judgments and effectively communicating answers. Pupils will study the way past events are presented, how valid these are and reflect upon why they may differ.

Continuity and change

There were lots of things going on at any one time in the past. Some changed rapidly while others remained relatively continuous. We can look at these to consider things that were continuous and explain why, and things that were changing and explain why. We can then use these to judge comparisons between two points in the past, or between some point in the past and the present. We consider key moments / key individuals and turning points that triggered change, the level of change and its significance, e.g. what made the most difference, Also how people experienced, promoted, shaped or resisted change.

Cause and consequence

This concept considers the ‘how and why’ of history. The causes look for ‘what were the actions/beliefs/circumstances…?’ that led to a change or event that we examine, and then the consequences of these.

Similarity and difference

Similarity and difference is based upon an understanding of the differing perspectives and relationships between different groups. Asking how similar or different allows pupils to draw comparisons across people, their perspectives, motivations and actions as well as across time and space, helping children to develop a greater understanding of modern global society.

Significant events and people

Some events, ideas or people have had a significant long-lasting impact on the world. Not all things are significant for the same reasons as other things and in this concept, children can see the range of reasons why certain people, places and events were significant then and now. It includes assessing and evaluating the impact that they had on a period of time.


Key vocabulary and terms are learnt during each theme and revisited as appropriate in subsequent years.



Children at Water Mill will know more and remember more about history. They will be able to understand historical concepts and vocabulary and have an understanding of how daily life and settlements changed over time. They will know the legacy that has been created by the events, societies and people of the past and how these have shaped the world that we live in today. They will have developed skills such as problem solving, asking and answering questions, testing and evaluating hypotheses as well as developing a sense of intrigue. The children will be well equipped to use these skills across other areas of learning that will allow them to progress in their learning as they move away from primary education.


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Water Mill Primary School Water Mill Close, Selly Oak, Birmingham, B29 6TS
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