Sign In

 ‭(Hidden)‬ apply_styles



​​​History at Stringer

History Curriculum Intent

"History is usually presented as a set of facts and dates of victories and defeats, or monarchs and presidents, consigned to an unchanging past. But it's not like that at all. History is the knitting together of rival interpretations: deliberate manipulations of the truth and sometimes alternative facts." 

Historian Lucy Worsley

At Dorothy Stringer we aim for our students to be able to place themselves within the contested narratives of History.  We strive to teach them the knowledge and skills necessary to understand the grand tapestry of the past, and to critique it.  We aim to stimulate students' innate curiosity and therefore a deep engagement with the knowledge and understanding developed around a core of British history, exploring global, national, and local histories. 

In an age of sometimes overwhelming, competing and problematic information, students are encouraged to embrace the complexity of the past and evaluate evidence for its usefulness and limitations. We weave together the approaches of collective memory, disciplinary and postmodern to build genuine historical understanding. History is a knowledge rich subject which allows students to analyse the process of change, recognise the diversity and difference of the past, and use History as a canvas to develop a sense of their own morality.

Increasing students' lasting historical understanding requires careful sequencing of knowledge, embedding literacy and disciplinary skills, and establishing the relevancy of the past to their lives.  Our lessons should seek to support learnt knowledge becoming secure in long term memory using a range of strategies.

Our school involves a diversity of communities, identities and abilities; all must see that History is part of their past and future lives and a vital part of their education.  However, in the summer of 2020, it is clear that traditional approaches to History teaching have not been good enough. The construction of the National Curriculum, specifications of GCSE content, existing resources and bodies of knowledge for history teaching can create, however accidentally, barriers for effectively creating a diverse and meaningful curriculum for our students. A truly diverse history curriculum can be a vehicle for creating greater social cohesion and tolerance of racial and ethnic difference in preparing learners to enter a diverse, multi-cultural society. Many of us have the privilege of teaching and learning about injustice, rather than living with it.  It is our responsibility to be active in the face of injustice, and in our own small way as teachers, contribute to fighting it.

Curriculum Implementation

Preparedness from KS2

Our students arrive at Stringer with varying experiences of History in primary schools which tend to use the collective memory approach to History.  Our overall objective is to introduce students to the disciplinary approach to History and understand the depth, richness and challenges of the discipline – that it is so much more than a collection of stories, dates and people. 

Through Key Stage 3 students build their historical knowledge of the events which have shaped our societies, develop their understanding of second order and substantive concepts which underpin History. The concepts are introduced with the How to Make Progress in History sheet (see Appendix 2), which describes attainment in History and the key secondary concepts, supported with dual coding. History classrooms display key concepts, issues with evidence and advice on how to write like a historian to support students.

Organisation of KS3

Through KS3, students will have three hours of History lessons a fortnight in mixed attainment classes.  The content of lessons is predominantly chronological, starting with events in Britain in 1066. Some units of work and some lessons deviate from the chronological framework to introduce thematic history. 

The Key Stage 3 schemes of work are divided into five overarching enquiry questions in each year.  These enquiry questions are repeatedly reconsidered and revised to update the curriculum. Students summarise a response to each question at the end of each unit. Each enquiry question has a knowledge organiser for students containing definitions of key Tier 3 vocabulary, key dates and a quote from a historian to introduce the topic.  Each lesson poses an individual enquiry which contributes to answering the whole enquiry.

Lessons are repeatedly evolving as teachers refine and improve previous practice. Lessons have a do it now activity, often based around the knowledge organiser.  Most lessons will use a mixture of reading, writing, analysis of evidence and discussion to build student knowledge and understanding.  Lessons rarely use textbooks and use a variety of teacher made resources instead, which allows for development of resources over time.

Meeting the National Curriculum

The History National Curriculum is a combination of skills and possible knowledge areas. The skills are addressed throughout History lessons across the Key Stage.  

National Curriculum specifies areas of knowledge that should be taught, although it does not detail the depth or breadth of such studies.  The Key Stage is broadly organised chronologically with a number of topics that meet the requirements.

There are strong and persuasive arguments about the limitations of the National Curriculum.  Whilst meeting the requirements of the curriculum, there is a need to emphasise the multicultural nature of British history, its interconnectedness with the world, and how to develop a pedagogy that more properly interweaves the contribution of Black History to the canon as a body of legitimate knowledge. This flexibility is not an option for GCSE history which has a crowded, narrowly focused, specification allowing almost no opportunity for such aims. The rigid curriculum requirements provide limited opportunity to make links to an explicit BAME history but teachers look for opportunities to mitigate this absence. Changing to a GCSE option which includes a unit on Migration is being discussed within the department, but the huge workload and cost are significant barriers. It is to be hoped that revised GCSE specifications address this issue.

Requirement One - The development of Church, state and society in Medieval Britain 1066-1509  - taught in Year 7 unless stated otherwise

  • the Norman Conquest and 1066 onwards
  • Magna Carta and the emergence of Parliament – developed further in Year 8
  • society, economy and culture -  feudalism, religion in daily life , farming, trade and towns
  • the Black Death and its social and economic impact including the Peasants' Revolt
  • Changing role of women – thematic unit in Year 8 includes this period
  • Changing nature of warfare – thematic unit in Year 9 includes this period

    Requirement Two - The development of Church, state and society in Britain 1509-1745 – Year 8 unless stated otherwise
  • the English Reformation and Counter Reformation (Henry VIII) – taught in Year 7
  • the Elizabethan religious settlement – taught in Year 7
  • the causes and events of the civil wars throughout Britain
  • the Interregnum (including Cromwell in Ireland)
  • the Restoration, 'Glorious Revolution' and power of Parliament
  • society, economy and culture across the period: religion and superstition in daily life – witchcraft, changing role of women 

    Requirement Three - Ideas, political power, industry and empire: Britain, 1745-1901  - Year 8 unless stated otherwise
  • the Enlightenment in Europe and Britain
  • Britain's transatlantic slave trade: its effects and its eventual abolition – taught in Year 9
  • the French Revolution 
  • Britain as the first industrial nation and the impact on society
  • the development of the British Empire 

    Requirement Four - challenges for Britain, Europe and the wider world 1901 to the present day – Year 9
  • the suffragettes
  • the First World War and the Peace Settlement
  • the inter-war years: the Great Depression and the rise of dictators
  • the Second World War
  • development of Black British civil rights in the 20th century
  • Terrorism in the 21st  century

    Requirement Five - a local history study
  • Changing nature of Brighton Year 7
  • WWI Indian soldiers and Brighton Year 9
  • Regency Brighton in Changing role of women unit Year 8

    Requirement Six the study of an aspect or theme in British history that consolidates and extends pupils' chronological knowledge from before 1066

Migration Year 7 

Requirement Seven at least one study of a significant society or issue in world history

Development of China 1500 to 2000 Year 8 (in development)

Exploration in the 1500s onwards Year 8

TransAtlantic Slavery and impact on Africa Year 9  

Progression of knowledge

The largely chronological structure  of the curriculum  organises knowledge within the broad overall narrative of British history.  However, broadly speaking learning rests on previously learnt concepts, reflecting the ideas of progression and development in society. Each unit connects to prior learning and these connections are identified and built on in lessons.  Formal assessments incorporate these connections as questions test learning from previous units and years as KS3 develops.  Knowledge also advances as topics have more depth and complexity as KS3 develops. For example, the Battle of the Somme in 1916 (Year 9) is a more complex topic than the Battle of Hastings in 1066 (Year7). This is not always true in History as the causes of the English Civil War are deeply complex and consequently are taught as an overview, avoiding complexity.

Progression of skills

The relationship of skills and knowledge is complex and interdependent in history. A student may be able to deploy a whole range of skills to a very high standard in one topic, but those skills cannot automatically be transferred to a new body of knowledge, although being skilled will make learning the new knowledge easier. The range of skills is approximately captured in the How To Make Progress in History sheet which is stuck in each student's book (see Appendix 2).   

The overall aim is for students to be able to describe what they have learnt about with increasing detail and accuracy, to comprehend increasingly complex texts, to explain with more sophistication and make more complex judgements, with judicious use of supporting evidence.  However we cannot regard this as a hierarchical progression.  Description in History can be a simple or immensely challenging task

Within that we want students to retain and deploy knowledge effectively, understand that the past was diverse and different, explain causes, identify change and continuity, understand and judge significance, know how to ask questions, understand the role of interpretations and to be able to write carefully about all of the above

As the Key Stage progresses, students will be supported and challenged to apply these skills to a higher level and to more complex topics  which then progresses to KS4 expectations.  The three core skills of retaining knowledge, describing and explaining knowledge through extended writing and comprehension of complex issues are separately assessed through each year, with increasing challenge across the key stage.  

Transition to KS4

By the end of Key Stage 3, students will have looked at history up to the late 20th century and, in terms of skills development, be ready for Key Stage 4 History. Students will have studied history thematically, in overview, and in depth to prepare them for the GCSE.  Students will have developed their historical skills and developed broad knowledge of the historical periods that the GCSE will consider, rather than a detailed knowledge of these periods.  Although, as detailed below, there are considerable challenges in managing KS4 content within the two years we cannot cover the GCSE content in KS3.  Firstly, we believe in the integrity and value of the KS3 curriculum and have to consider what is best for all students, not just those choosing GCSE History.  Secondly, the detailed knowledge required for all GCSE units would be inappropriate to teach to KS3.  Thirdly, the narrow focus of the GCSE would make it even more difficult to meet the National Curriculum requirements in KS3. 

In Key Stage 4, students take the Edexcel GCSE History option, consisting of the four following units.

  1. Paper 1 - Crime and Punishment from c1000 to present day- thematic study
  2. Paper 3 - Germany from 1918 to 1939 – depth study
  3. Paper 2 - Early Elizabethan England – overview study
  4. Paper 2 - International Relations from 1941 to 1991 – overview study

PaperGCSE Unit KS3 knowledge

Crime and Punishment

British history 1000 to present day

Changing nature of society from feudal, early modern, industrial and modern.

Substantive concepts of monarch, parliament, power, witchcraft, war, empire, urbanisation.

3Germany 1918 to 1939World War One and Two, dictatorship, parliament, dictatorships in Europe in 1920s and 1930s
2 Early Elizabethan EnglandReformation and Tudors in Year 7, exploration in Year 8, continued impact of reformation in Year 8

International Relations

1941 to 1991

World War Two, use of atomic weapons.

This topic involves some sophisticated ideas which are not accessible to most Year 9 students.


Lessons in Key Stage 4 are very similar to lessons in Key Stage 3 with the appropriate progression in skills and knowledge. Students will use some substantive knowledge from Key Stage 3 in their Key Stage 4 studies.  Lessons in Key Stage 4 will include a focus on making effective knowledge notes in exercise books for use as an effective revision resource.

The amount of content in the GCSE specification means that the GCSE is very knowledge driven. In comparison to earlier GCSEs, the variety of question types in the 2016 GCSE has increased and it is a considerable challenge to deliver both the content and sufficient question practice through the two years of Key Stage 4.  The specificity of the requirements for successful answers, particularly as regards evidence questions in Paper 1 and 3, creates a need for writing within confined types rather than expressing deeper historical knowledge and understanding.

The question design in the GCSEs so far also shows that the depth of knowledge expected by the exam board places a very considerable demand on knowledge retention by students for success in the exams.  The amount of knowledge does mean the GCSE can be very challenging for lower attaining students. We address this with a spaced retrieval approach to prior learning with regular use of retrieval quizzes and tests, as well as taking advantage of appropriate links across units, such as linking Crime and Punishment Early Modern period crimes to Early Elizabethan England attitudes to poverty.  Students are asked to use online learning platforms like Seneca, Quizlet and Pixl resources to practise revision throughout the two years.

Students have GCSE mock exams at the end of Year 10 (Crime and Punishment) and December of Year 11 (Germany 1918 to 1939) as well as in class exams and question practice through the GCSE.


Transition to KS5

By the end of Key Stage 4, many of our students are considering taking History, or related subjects such as Politics, Law, Sociology, Classics in Key Stage 5.  The development of literacy skills with comprehension of texts, careful analysis of evidence, writing of structured paragraphs and short essays, alongside the knowledge in the GCSE, give them an appropriate preparation for the further challenge of History at A-level.



Students are formally assessed with three different types of assessment which focus on the core skills of retaining knowledge, comprehending a text, and writing. Students complete two of each of these assessments (six assessments in total) each year to create their ranking within the whole school progression assessment system.

The knowledge assessment is a mixture of multiple choice and simple closed question to identify what students have retained from recent unit learning (e.g. Which king won the Battle of Hastings?) and wider disciplinary knowledge (e.g. which century is the date 1585 from? What is meant by a consequence?) which has been taught through the whole key stage.

The comprehension assessment requires students to read a text and answer questions of developing complexity in response.  Questions progress from identifying correct information, describing features from the text, selecting information, and explaining in response to a text.

The writing assessment is to describe recent unit learning, such as writing a narrative account of the Battle of Hastings. Some responses to such a question will be descriptive, some will describe and explain and some will describe, explain and evaluate.

Whilst it is only the writing assessment that mirrors the assessment requirements of KS4 History, the other two assessment types are key components of effective progression in History.

In KS4, progress is assessed holistically with a focus on ability to write exam questions and performance on mock exams from the end of Year 10 and November of Year 11.  There is a discussion to be had with the department on the benefits of moving to a blended assessment model as in Key Stage 3, particularly around using more formal knowledge testing.


Feedback to the formal assessments depends on the assessment.   For knowledge assessments, students mark their own work and correct any incorrect answers.  For comprehension assessments, students mark their answers to the simpler identifying and describing questions whilst teachers mark the more sophisticated explaining questions.  For writing assessments, teachers mark the whole answer.  For teacher marking we have moved away from prescriptive written descriptions of achievement to more general descriptors.  This allows teachers more flexibility in recognising different qualities in the writing and to give more precise feedback.  Where appropriate, written feedback will be in the form of questions which students then respond to in DIRT activities. 

Feedback to other written work is structured similarly. Students also complete self-assessment RAG checklists considering presentation, organisation and engagement in lessons.  Students make RAG judgements on their own progress across the year in a tracking sheet.  In KS4 written feedback mainly focuses on exam question responses and longer pieces of writing, checking that students have understand the key ideas and are writing effectively.

Written feedback mainly leads to progress by correcting any mistakes in factual knowledge and challenging students to write and think more accurately.  However progression in History is not purely skills based and students also progress by acquiring new knowledge.


The explicit teaching of literacy runs through the history curriculum.  New vocabulary is introduced at the start of enquiry questions with knowledge organisers (see appendix 3), which include 12 key vocabulary words and simple definitions and used for pre-teaching of Tier 3 vocabulary.  Knowledge organisers also include sophisticated language with quotes from historians which develops Tier 2 language.  These quotes are closely explored with classes, identifying the new language and ideas and analysing the text as an example of good historical writing. This also helps students understand that history is not the past, but what historians say about the past.  Knowledge organisers are referred back to for students to check the use and understanding of the key words as they progress through the unit.  A bank of Do it Now tasks based on understanding the knowledge organiser is available for teachers to use at the start of lessons.

History classrooms have Write like a Historian displays to support effective writing and focus on Tier 2 vocabulary. Extended writing tasks focus on using a Point, Evidence, Explain structure. Writing frames and sentence starters are provided for extended writing tasks.

Most history lessons require close analysis of a text, which can vary from a short paragraph to an extended extract of several paragraphs of historical writing or historical fiction.  Typically, students will be asked to complete a variety of tasks from identifying new vocabulary, breaking down the etymology of some words, matching inferences to the text, creating inferences from the text, summarising the text, quoting from the text and similar. History is a discursive subject and students are encouraged to share their opinions and ideas in discussion and develop their oracy skills in doing so.


Numeracy is approached in several ways, but is not as consistent or necessary as the use of literacy.  The most common form of numeracy is through the use of dates (centuries and years) and timelines, which feature on all knowledge organisers and is addressed in all Key Stages. Additionally, there are some opportunities for numeracy through the use of statistical evidence, such as interpreting graphs or tables. 

As examples of how numeracy is used, in Year 7, students have to identify the length of different medieval monarchs' reigns. In Year 8, students look at demographics from the Industrial Revolution. In Year 9, students look at casualty statistics from WWI.


History has a variety of implicit cross curricular links, particularly with other humanities subjects through topics like migration and changing religious belief.  There are links with English through the use of historical fiction and the links between WWI and conflict poetry. We look briefly at the development of the English language and the links with medieval French. We look at the Renaissance and history of science.


Extra-curricular provision is limited to trips.  Currently, due to workload constraints, we offer a trip to the WWI Battlefields in Ypres in Year 9 and a 4 day residential trip to Berlin in Year 11 for GCSE students.  We have developed a History Film Club, Reading Group, A Just War Discussion group in the past.  We have had more trips running and with the changing staffing of the department maybe able to do so again, but managing workload is the main consideration here.

Appendix 1 – application of intent statements to history curriculum


1. "contested narratives"  - perception of Britain's role through history, King John, Cromwell, Empire and many other examples

2. "a core of British history"  - nearly all topics have a foundation of British history which provides a common thread of relevance.

3. "exploring global" - WWI, Empire, Exploration, WW2, China, migration

4. "local" – Castles, Norman conquest, Regency Brighton

5. "evaluate evidence" – repeated throughout lessons

6. "collective memory" – the main topics we teach use a collective memory approach of common facts and understanding which is then challenged.

7. "disciplinary" -  use of evidence, focus on skills

8. "postmodern" – women in History, Cromwell interpretations

9. "diversity" – migration, WWI, WW2, Black Tudors, Women in History


Appendix 2 KS3 How to make progress in History sheet


Appendix 3   Example knowledge organiser



Dorothy Stringer School, Loder Road, Brighton, BN1 6PZ | Tel: 01273 852222 | Fax: 01273 852310 | Email: