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The Story of History at Thurnham CE Infant School

The intent of the History curriculum at Thurnham is to promote a love of History through the study of an interesting, exciting and diverse range of topics and key figures.  Using the Foundation Stage and National Curriculum programmes of study, the children become aware that life has changed and learn how people in the past behaved and why.  Learning about the past will help to give children an understanding of the present, and they will begin to make links between events in the past and now.  The study of History encourages learners to begin to use their superpower of investigation and question the validity of sources and information.  As the children move into Key Stage 1, we encourage them to become critical and independent thinkers, who use clues, tell stories and offer explanations.  In the last two or three years there has been a priority to diversify the range of key figures studied, both in terms of gender and ethnicity and this is ongoing.


Changes within Living Memory

  • EYFS - Children discover their own personal history, the lives of people around them and their roles in society.   They bring in objects from home which they have had from when they were babies and talk about their lives through pre-school.  The children consider the similarities and differences of life in the past and now, drawing on their own experiences and what has been read to them in class.  They begin to understand the past through settings, characters and events encountered in books and storytelling.  Speaking to grandparents about what life at school was like for them, further builds on this knowledge and understanding. 
  • Year 1 – The children create their own family tree, think about their favourite memories and talk about what has happened during the summer holidays. 
  • Year 2 - This aspect or History is broadened to include changes in technologies over the years and to look at the differences between three key astronauts who travelled to space in different decades.

Events Beyond Living Memory that are Significant Nationally or Globally

  • EYFS - Children are given an understanding of the importance of Remembrance Day, the story of Guy Fawkes and the Nativity.
  • Year 1 – Children build on their understanding of Rembrance Day and why this is significant.  They discuss the importance of castles in History, with a particular emphasis on Leeds Castle.
  • Year 2 – Again, children build on their knowledge of the Gunpowder Plot, thinking about the reasons for it and questioning the thoughts of those involved, rather than simply learning key facts.  They think about the significance of Remembrance Day more deeply and use the knowledge gained in previous years to help inform their thinking.  The events of the Great Fire of London are also considered.

The Lives of Significant Individuals in the Past

  • EYFS – In Foundation Stage, children begin to learn who Guy Fawkes was and why the events of the Gunpowder Plot were significant.
  • Year 1 – Through cross-curricular work in Art, children learn about the lives of significant artists from different cultures and time periods.  They also learn the stories of the four patron saints of the United Kingdom whom the four houses in school are named after.
  • Year 2 – Children return to the topic of Guy Fawkes and the Gunpowder Plot and, in Term 2. they learn about Walter Tull, his adverse start in life and the significant of his becoming the first black British Army Officer.  When learning about space, the children think about the similarities and differences between Neil Armstrong, Helen Sharman and Tim Peake in their training and the events that led them to become astronauts.

Significant Historical Events, People and Places in their own Locality

  • Year 1 – Through visiting Bearsted Green, children begin to learn about Alfred Mynn and why he was important.  The significance of Leeds Castle is also considered when the more general topic of castles is studied.
  • Year 2 – Year 2 children build on their knowledge of Bearsted Green, thinking about the ages and previous uses for the different buildings surrounding it.  Their trip to Chatham Dockyard gives opportunities to discuss the significance of the dockyard and consider changes in life between then and now.  The Great Fire of London will also be studied.


Chronological Understanding

History Time Boxes have recently been introduced to all year groups.  Through the use of the various objects and pictures in the boxes, it is hoped to give children a better understanding of where each topic or key figure studied fits into a simple chronology.  Each classroom also has a timeline appropriate to the children’s ages and Key Stage. 

  • EYFS – Children begin to have a very basic understanding of the passage of time.
  • Year 1 – Children, with support, begin to be able to sequence events they have learned about in History.  They also sequence events in their own lifetimes.
  • Year 2 – At the beginning of each new topic, with the use of the Time Box, children revisit previous learning to understand the chronology of events previously studied and to learn where the new topic fits in.  They also place events in the lives of key figures on individual timelines.


Historical vocabulary appropriate to each year group is introduced and revisited throughout the year.  A subject-specific list of vocabulary is to be developed across the school.

Historical Enquiry

As children move from EYFS through to Year 2, they develop the skills to ask and suggest answers to questions by making observations about what they see and learn.  In Year 2 particularly, they are encouraged to question sources and think about the validity of such things as photographs and newspaper reports. 

Understanding and Interpretation of Events, People and Changes

  • EYFS – The children begin to grasp a very basic understanding of life in the past and begin to ask simple questions about an artefact or historical object.
  • Year 1 – Children are more able to identify major differences between life in different periods.  They move on to using sources and asking more complex questions about an object.
  • Year 2 – Children can explain the differences and similarities between life in different periods.  They understand that there are different types of evidence telling us things about the past and they begin to question that evidence.  Children begin to understand that there are reasons why people in the past acted how they did. 

Communication of Historical Understanding

  • EYFS – At a very basic level, children are able to describe things from the past and to say how some things were used.
  • Year 1 – Children move on from this very basic level and begin to have a better understanding of events, objects and life in the past.  They are also more able to tell stories of the lives of important people.
  • Year 2 – Learners use diagrams, pictures and recounts to show their historical understanding.  They begin to annotate photographs as they develop their critical thinking skills.