At St Edmund’s, we believe it is important for children to develop a sense of identity through learning about the past and how history has shaped their lives.  We teach a clearly mapped out journey, starting in EYFS and developing through a tailor-made curriculum through to year 6. Our units follow the National Curriculum and the EYFS framework, as well as being in the context of the local area. The children are taught the subject knowledge and historical enquiry skills they need to behave like a historian.

We also aim for children to develop a deep curiosity about the past, ask perceptive questions, think critically, weigh evidence and sift arguments and develop perspective and judgement skills.

Through the provision of our History Curriculum, it is our aim for pupils to:

  • gain a secure understanding of historical chronology, – classify, analyse and evaluate critically a large range of primary and secondary sources considering bias and provenance
  • build a secure knowledge and understanding of Britain’s past and that of the wider world making links between historical periods previously taught
  • develop a good understanding of local history that complements studies about the UK and the wider world
  • be able to develop effective communication skills, including being able to give a balanced account and to be able to argue one point of view

We have identified some key historical themes which the children will revisit during their time at St. Edmund’s:

  • Culture and Identity:Throughout their time at St. Edmund’s, the children will learn about the different beliefs, values and practices in the past, both in this country and further afield.  They will be encouraged to engage with past thought with empathy and appreciate the circumstances people living in the past faced and the motivations, values and attitudes behind their actions.  They will also learn that people’s experiences in the past were not homogeneous, and they will consider the relationship between people’s identities and their experiences.  They will particularly consider changing beliefs about the roles of men and women and changing attitudes towards race.  The children will encounter some people from the past who, by the standards of their time, had unusual and unexpected ideas and attitudes, which can prompt students to think deeply about those ‘strange’ ideas, and also – by comparison and contrast – about the taken-for-granted assumptions of their own society.
  • Power and Legitimacy: – While studying History at St. Edmund’s, the children will find out about the different ways that people and groups obtain and power throughout History and how they justify their claims to have authority over others.  They learn about the visual signs of power used to impress or control.  They examine the idea of kingship and explore the responsibilities that come with it.  They learn about different ways of legitimising kingship, including hereditary kingship and dynasties, beliefs in the divine rights of kingship and possibility of winning the crown through military or political power, and study examples of uprisings where people have tried to overthrow their leaders.  They also explore different political systems, including democracy and oligarchy and learn about the changing relationship between the Church, the monarchy and parliament in England during medieval times.  They learn about social and political changes in more recent times which have resulted in the expansion of franchise.
  • Civilisation:While at St. Edmunds, the children will learn about a range of Ancient Civilisations in their History lessons.  They will begin to understand a civilisation as a sophisticated society where people live together in cities.  They will think about some of the conditions that would have been necessary for people to be able to come together in cities – the importance of having access to fertile land for agriculture and writing to run an administrative system, for example.  They will learn about the achievements of non-European civilisations and consider the impact of Ancient Greek ideas in the wider world. They will consider the reasons that some new inventions did not spread further afield in ancient times.
  • Empire:Children will also learn that an Empire is when one country, state or ruler controls land outside its borders, taking advantage of the resources and the people who live there.  They will study the way that Empire affects the indigenous population.  They will specifically learn the reasons for the rise and fall of the Roman Empire, and they will find out about the power vacuum that was created in Britain by the fall of the Roman Empire.  They also learn about the British Empire, contrasting its rise with that of the Roman Empire, and its impact on different people living in Britain and further afield, and particularly about the role of slavery as a source of wealth.
  • Invasion and Conflict: During their History studies at St. Edmund’s, the children will encounter the themes of invasion and conflict in a variety of contexts.  They will find out some of the motiving factors for invasion: access to land, access to trade or perceived injustice and they will learn about some of the factors which contribute to success: increased numbers (sometimes through allies), better organisation, superior technology.  They will also learn about the defensive actions that leaders take, such as building defence systems, developing alliances and negotiating peace treaties. The children will consider the social and political implications of invasion and warfare, such as the importance of gaining public support.  They find out about examples where open warfare has been avoided, such as in the Space Race or the Danelaw.

We ensure that there is a balance between the acquisition of historical disciplinary skills and substantive knowledge so that at the end of the unit of work, pupils will be able to use this understanding to give a well-reasoned, substantiated answer to the enquiry question.



Our intent in the teaching of History is rooted in Catholic Social Teaching.

We believe:

– that the teaching of history provides many opportunities to teach children about the importance of peace and how to be peacemakers.

– that in learning about man’s accomplishments across history, children become more aware of the dignity of the individual, the potential of mankind and the importance of participation.

– that solidarity is built through History by learning about the lives and experiences of peoples living in the past and in different parts of the world.

– that the common good is built by knowing ourselves and where we come from alongside knowing about the past of others.  In this way, we can better appreciate the perspectives others may have.  The common good is also advanced by the incorporation of themes such as rulers and topics such as the Y4 unit on Ancient Greeks.  We also believe that by learning to critically analyse sources for bias and provenance, students acquire skills to look at any document critically and in a considered manner.

– that solidarity is built through History by learning about the lives and experiences of peoples living in the past and in different parts of the world.


EARLY YEARS (Nursery and Reception)

During their time in Nursery and Reception the children develop their history skills as part of the area of learning ‘understanding the world’.  Children are encouraged to reflect on the events and routines that they and their peers experience, to develop an awareness of past and present, and to begin to be able to ask questions about and talk about life in the past through role play, discussion and shared stories.  This is an important time for the children as the building blocks are put in place to prepare them to access the primary History curriculum.

Although many activities are planned according to the children’s interests, we also cover these topics in Early Years at St. Edmund’s.

Nursery Past and Present

My family and friends

Past and Present

I remember when…

Link to seasonal changes

Past and Present

Passing of time linked to growth and planting

Past and Present

I remember when… Memories from nursery

The Natural World

Changes in Autumn

Autumn walk

Our school environment


The Natural World

Changes in winter

Winter walk

Rain, snow and ice


Understanding the World

Maps-linked to we’re going on a bear hunt

Physical features in story book (grass, mud, cave etc)

The Natural World

Changes in summer.

Summer walk

Changes in the environment



Past and Present

My family

My home


Past and Present

I remember when….

Link to seasonal changes

Compare toys-past and present, changes from baby to now

Past and Present

Compare past and present based on own experiences and stories read in class


Past and Present

I remember when… Memories from Reception


Understanding the World

School environment

Where we live

Journey to school

Autumn walk -seasonal changes


The Natural World

Hot and cold countries

Winter walk -seasonal changes

Differences between Autumn and winter


Understanding the World

Visit to a farm

Features of a farm

Observe animals and plants in the environment around them


The Natural World

Summer- seasonal changes


Changes in the environment and reasons for change.



KEY STAGE 1 (Years 1 and 2)

During their first years at school, all children study the following at least once:

  • a thematic unit to learn about changes over time
  • significant events within living memory
  • significant historical events in the local area
  • events beyond living memory which are significant nationally or globally
  • a comparative study of two significant individuals in the same field

We meet the History Curriculum through our coverage of the following themes:


What was the Space Race?

1. What was the Space Race?

2. How did space exploration start?

3. Who were the first people in space?

4. Who was Neil Armstrong?

5. How did the Space Race affect the world?

6. Did people continue to explore space after the space race?


What did the explorers and adventurers discover?

1. Who was Ibn Battuta and why did he travel?

2. What were Ibn Battuta’s journeys like?

3. Who was Christopher Columbus and why did he travel?

4. What was Christopher Columbus’ journey like?

5. How did Christopher Columbus’ journeys change the world?

6. What are some similarities and differences between Ibn Batuta and Christopher Columbus?


Who was Walter Tull and why should we remember him?

1. Who was Walter Tull and when did he live?

2. Did Walter have a happy or terrible childhood?

3. Using historical sources, can we spot the differences between Walter’s life and the lives of footballers today?

4. What was it like for Walter when he played football at a match in Bristol?

5. How did Walter help our country during WWI?

6. What is special about Walter Tull and Nicola Adams?


Why was the Great Fire of London so bad?

1. Who lived in Britain at the time of the Great Fire of London and what was life like for them?

2. What was the Great Fire of London?

3. How do we know about the Great Fire of London?

4. Why did the fire spread so quickly?

5. How did people try to put out the great fire of London?

6. How did London change after the Great Fire of London?


Who built Abingdon Abbey and why?

1. Who built Abingdon Abbey?

2. What did the Abbey look like?

3. What was it like to live in the Abbey?

4. Why did the Abbey close?

5. What happened to the Abbey after it closed?

6. What can we learn from visiting the Abbey today?



Year 3 and 4

The children learn about the early History of Britain, building on their understanding of Empire with their Roman topic and with a strong emphasis on invasion and conflict throughout.

Year 5 and 6

In Year 5, the children revisit and build on their understanding of the ideas of civilisation, conflict and invasion, and empire in their topics about the Vikings and the Benin Kingdom.  In Year 6, they focus on power and legitimacy as they learn about the changing roles of the Church, the monarch and parliament in their topic ‘Medieval Monarchs’.  The children build on their understanding of all the themes in new and more sophisticated contexts.  In their 20th Century Conflict unit, the children learn more about empire and conflict and invasion.  Finally, Windrush teaches them about culture and identity, they find out more about the British Empire first covered in Key Stage 1 and also build on their understanding of power and legitimacy from their work in Year 5. They learn about the Civil Rights movement, developing their understanding of conflict and also learning still more about power and legitimacy.


How do we know about the pre-historic period?

1. What were the first humans like?

2. Which animals lived during the Ice Age?

3. What were the different periods in the Stone Age?

4. Why was the development of agriculture important?

5. How did the Bronze Age change how humans lived?

6. Who were the Celts and what was life like for them?


Did the Romans change the world forever?

1. How did the Roman Empire become so powerful?

2. How did the Romans conquer Britain?

3. Why did Boudicca lead a revolt against the Romans?

4. How did the Romans change Britain?

5. What did the Romans believe?

6. Why did the Romans leave Britain


Why are we still fascinated by the Ancient Egyptians?

1. When and where did the earliest civilisations begin?

2.How was Ancient Egypt society structured?

3. How important was the Nile to the Ancient Egyptians

4. How did agricultural advances support the civilisation?

5. What was the role of the scribe in society?

6. What did the advances allow the Egyptians to accomplish?


How did the Ancient Greeks leave their mark on the world?

1. How was Ancient Greece organised?

2. What was the Golden Age of Greece?

3. What did the Greeks believe?

4. Who were the Ancient Greek philosophers?

5. Who won the Peloponnesian War?

6. Why was Alexander so great?


How did the Anglo-Saxons and Scots change life in Britain?

1. How do we know about the Anglo Saxons?

2. Why did Vortigen make a deal with the Anglo-Saxons?

3. What was life like for Anglo-Saxons?

4. What did the Anglo-Saxons believe?

5. What was the heptarchy?

6. Why did the Anglo-Saxons build burghs?


How did the Vikings change Britain?

1. Why did the Vikings invade Britain?

2. What happened at Lindisfarne in 793?

3. Why did Alfred sign a Treaty with Guthum?

4. Were the Vikings the first Europeans to discover the Americas?

5. Who were the Norse Gods?

6. Did King Knut try to stop the tide from coming in?


What was the Benin Kingdom’s greatest achievement?

1. How did the Benin Kingdom begin?

2. What was life like for the Edo people in the Benin Kingdom?

3. How were trade links established and what goods were traded?

4. What led to the Civil war in the 1700s?

5. What was the transatlantic slave trade?

6. Why did the British colonise Benin and what impact did it have?


Who was the greatest medieval monarch?

1. In 1066, who was the rightful heir to the throne?

2. Who was responsible for the death of Thomas Becket?

3. Who was the worse King – Richard or John?

4. In what ways was Edward I a great and terrible King?

5. Why did Henry VIII initiate the Reformation?

6. Was Elizabeth I weak and feeble?


“The outbreak of WW1 was inevitable.” To what extent do you agree with this statement?

What caused the First World War to break out?

1. What caused the First World War to break out?

2. Why were so many lives lost on the Western Front?

3. Was the treaty of Versailles fair?

4. How did Hitler rise to power in the 1930s?

5. What was life like in Nazi Germany?

6. Was the second World War inevitable?


What did the Windrush generation bring to Great Britain?

1. What was the British Empire?

2. How did people from the Caribbean help Britain in World War 11?

3. Who travelled on Empire Windrush and why?

4. What was life like for migrants in the 1940s and 1950s?

5. What impact did the Windrush generation have on Britain?

6. What is the real significance of Notting Hill Carnival?