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Narborough Primary Academy



In our federation, we hope that the teaching of history sparks in our pupils an enduring, life-long curiosity about past events, societies and cultures.  We aim to deliver a knowledge and vocabulary-rich history curriculum which encourages children to understand the world as it is now by exploring how it once was. Furthermore, as a rural federation of schools, we want our children to be exposed to the rich diversity of life experienced by peoples from the past not only in our own country but also from across the wider world.   

As well as explicitly teaching British history and that of the wider world, we also make use of our rich and varied local heritage either by incorporating it into our history units or by teaching stand-alone units of local history. With all this in mind, it is hoped that our ambitious history curriculum will provide all children with memorable experiences and enriching opportunities that nurture them to become confident and curious historians.


At the Nar Valley Federation, we want our children to acquire both substantive and disciplinary knowledge as they progress through our carefully sequenced history curriculum.

Substantive knowledge can be thought of as the historical facts and explicit vocabulary that we teach children within individual units of learning. These facts usually refer to the key dates, people, places and events of a historical period. 

Disciplinary knowledge, on the other hand, is knowledge of how historians investigate the past, and how they construct historical claims, arguments and accounts. Within our history lessons, children develop their disciplinary knowledge by being encouraged to ‘think like historians’. They look at and evaluate different historical sources; they learn about how historians find and use evidence from the past; and they consider how and why interpretations of historical evidence can vary.

To support the acquisition of both substantive and disciplinary knowledge, we have identified key substantive and disciplinary concepts which our children will encounter as they work through successive history units.

Substantive Concepts

Substantive concepts can be thought of as the ‘big ideas’ that help children to form narratives across and beyond the history curriculum. 

At the Nar Valley Federation, we help children build historical knowledge and understanding by teaching history through the lens of four overarching substantive concepts: civilisation and culture; exploration and invention; conflict and invasion; hierarchy and power. 

Substantive concepts are best understood when children encounter them repeatedly in multiple historical contexts; therefore, at the Nar Valley federation, children will revisit the four over-arching substantive concepts in different terms, year group rotations and Key Stages so that their understanding of the ‘big ideas of history’ is coherently developed and consolidated over time.

Disciplinary Concepts

Disciplinary concepts are used by historians to generate, construct and organise their understanding of the past. At the Nar Valley Federation, we encourage children to ‘think like historians’ by drawing their attention to six key disciplinary concepts which are embedded throughout our history curriculum.

In their history lessons, and across the wider curriculum, we want our pupils to be able to ask pertinent questions about the past, analyse evidence, think critically, appreciate different perspectives and develop informed judgements. Our children will be asked to consider how the past influences the present, what past societies were like and what beliefs and cultures have influenced people's actions. As they do this, our children will develop a strong and connected chronological framework on which to hang their knowledge of significant events, dates and people.


At the Nar Valley Federation, we have used the National Curriculum for History as the starting point for our own history curriculum but we have selected and sequenced units with regard to our rural and mixed-age context.  

In all three schools, children from Y1 to Y6 study three history units per year. In the Early Years and at the start of KS1, the children follow units which develop early historical knowledge and skills using their own experiences of life as a starting point. They will then progress onto units which develop their understanding of changes within and beyond living memory whilst also learning about significant individuals and events both locally and nationally.

Children in mixed KS1 and KS2 classes follow units which build upon the curriculum started in YR/1; however, they will also encounter both a World History unit and a Local History unit preparing them for their future learning in upper KS2.

In mixed-age KS2 classes, the children generally study three discrete units of history per year. Having mixed age classes (which can change year on year) means that sequencing units to develop a sense of chronology over the primary age range can be quite a challenge. For this reason, we have deliberately ordered our units to ensure that we develop the children's understanding of chronology over the course of each individual year.  For example in Year 3/4 A, children encounter chronological units about ancient world civilisations while in Year B they focus solely upon sequenced units of British history, both pre-1066 and beyond.

In all classes, we are developing the use of over-arching enquiry questions to focus our learning in history. In addition to this, we have also started to implement whole-class retrieval activities at the start of every history lesson. We believe these retrieval activities will enable our children to learn and remember historical knowledge and vocabulary which will in turn support their understanding of complex historical concepts both now and in the future. 

Subject specific vocabulary is embedded within the history curriculum, allowing the children to understand and apply it within the correct context.  From their study of history at the Nar Valley Federation, children will acquire a life-long knowledge and understanding of different time periods, events, societies and cultures, and will use this knowledge to make links across other subjects and areas of study.

Spirituality in our Curriculum

Through the teaching of history at the Nar Valley Federation, we encourage spiritual development through the exploration of the beliefs, attitudes and ideas of different societies and cultures from the past. The children investigate how these beliefs may be similar or different to their own, and consider the reasons why these similarities and differences may exist. Historical enquiry also allows children to explore how historical events may have impacted the lives of people from the past and enables them to hypothesise about how the lives of people may have been different if certain events had or had not happened.