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Thorner C of E

Primary School

Proud to be a part of the Elevate Multi Academy Trust

0113 2892541

Kirkhills, Thorner, Leeds LS14 3JD

Mrs G. Whawell - Headteacher

An inspirational place to learn and play, helping us make the most of everyday “All things are possible to those who believe.” (Mark 9:23)



At Thorner Primary School we believe that children should access a broad, inclusive history curriculum, based on the National Curriculum and the Elevate curriculum progression model for history. We offer access to exciting and challenging learning opportunities where clear progression, high quality teaching and engaging curriculum content allows them to master the knowledge and skills they need to develop a love of the past. Our history curriculum is intended not only to allow children to become inquisitive historians but also foster curiosity, excitement of discovery and a sense of time that is meaningful to themselves.


Wherever possible, knowledge has been organised chronologically to allow children to develop a clear chronological understanding of the past. The knowledge and skills build incrementally so that, by the end of Key Stage 2, children can know, understand and apply the subject content taught and be fully prepared for Key Stage 3 at secondary school.


The National Curriculum for History aims to ensure that all pupils:

  • Know and understand the history of these islands as a coherent, chronological narrative, from the earliest times to the present day: how people’s lives have shaped this nation and how Britain has influenced and been influenced by the wider world.
  • now and understand significant aspects of the history of the wider world: the nature of ancient civilisations; the expansion and dissolution of empires; characteristic features of past non-European societies; achievements and follies of mankind.
  • Gain and deploy a historically grounded understanding of abstract terms such as ‘empire’, ‘civilisation’, ‘parliament’ and ‘peasantry’.
  • Understand historical concepts such as continuity and change, cause and consequence, similarity, difference and significance, and use them to make connections, draw contrasts, analyse trends, frame historically-valid questions and create their own structured accounts, including written narratives and analyses.
  • Understand the methods of historical enquiry, including how evidence is used rigorously to make historical claims, and discern how and why contrasting arguments and interpretations of the past have been constructed.
  • Gain historical perspective by placing their growing knowledge into different contexts, understanding the connections between local, regional, national and international history; between cultural, economic, military, political, religious and social history; and between short- and long-term timescales.


At Thorner C of E Primary School, our intent is to inspire pupils’ curiosity to know more about Britain’s past, gain a coherent knowledge of their local history and that of the wider world and to recognise its significance today. Our History provision is designed to allow all children, including those with SEND, to experience excitement, wonder and, most importantly, a sense of achievement as they practise and improve skills by building upon their own knowledge of history.



We implement our historical approach through enquiry-based learning which encourages curiosity and independence in our children. Our clear progression map shows the knowledge and skills taught throughout our curriculum and our children can apply their historical enquiry skills when presented with a variety of sources. Our teachers provide opportunities through focused and meaningful visits and visitors, bringing the past to life and creating memorable experiences which supports them to retain knowledge of the past. 

The National Curriculum provides a structure and skill development for the History curriculum being taught. We ensure all activities are accessible for all children, including those with SEND, and make any necessary adaptations to meet their needs with an appropriate level of challenge and opportunity. By the end of Year 6, children have a chronological understanding of British history from the Stone Age to the present day. They can make comparisons and connections between different time periods and their own lives and the world today. Interlinked with this are studies of world history, such as the ancient civilisations of Greece and the Egyptians.

The history curriculum has been designed based on the following areas of knowledge and skills stated below:


Substantive knowledge 

In history, we recognise that substantive knowledge refers specifically to knowledge of the past, which includes... 

  • Topic knowledge – for pupils to engage meaningfully with the past, they need a rich knowledge of the period/place/society that they’re studying.
  • Chronological knowledge – pupils need a secure overview of major developments and periods to contextualise new knowledge. In KS2, we ensure children learn secure narratives across and within periods. This is partly why we have designed the history curriculum with local history studies for years 4 and 6 – in line with the National Curriculum requirements – because we recognise that some units take a higher quantity of weeks to teach effectively and in depth than others. 
  • Knowledge of substantive concepts – these are the concepts that are referred to as the historical threads in the Elevate Trust history curriculum progression model and include settlement, beliefs, culture, food and farming, travel and exploration, conflict, monarchy and politics and technological advances. 


Disciplinary knowledge – knowledge of history as a discipline (key concepts) 

We recognise that pupils need to develop an awareness of how historians construct knowledge about the past. The areas of disciplinary knowledge taught are called second-order concepts. Each history unit has one or two focus second order concepts, including the following: 

  • Cause and consequence 
  • Change and continuity 
  • Similarity and difference 
  • Historical significance 
  • Sources and evidence 
  • Historical interpretations 

However, at Thorner C of E Primary, we recognise that while focus concepts have been provided for KS1 to help focus planning for teachers, these do not need to be taught explicitly to children. Children should instead focus on building substantive knowledge. Then, in KS2, children start to be introduced explicitly to the different second order concepts and understand how they are used by historians. Particularly in UKS2, we recognise how children should be introduced to specific historians and their work, understanding how they have come to historical conclusions. 


Disciplinary knowledge – knowledge of history as a discipline (key historical skills) 

The children’s awareness of these concepts is developed through the progression of historical skills. These include chronological understanding, using a range of historical knowledge (which particularly links to the concepts of similarity and difference), sources and interpretation, historical enquiry and organisation and communication. 



We recognise that in Early Years, children make sense of history through topics that make sense to them in the present moment. Our children are first introduced to the concept through ‘Understanding the World’, as set out in the EYFS framework, which involves guiding the children to make sense of their physical world and community. The extent of this learning is underpinned by the ‘Past and Present’ ELG. History is developed through the children’s own interests and historical skills are developed through their own exploration, play and narratives. Sources are introduced through key vocabulary and pictures and our children are given opportunities to verbalise, draw and write about the past and what it means to them. Our EYFS team create a whole class vocabulary book where the children’s own ideas are consistently added when children have displayed deep understanding in a variety of ways.


Key Stage 1

In Year 1, the children start by looking at changes within living memory (last c. 100 years) as this is the easiest concept for them to grasp at a young age. In the first and second units, children will use concrete artefacts, as well as the oral history of parents/grandparents to support with this. In the third unit, children will be introduced to the idea of significant figures, looking at people beyond living memory. 


In Year 2, children start by looking at a significant figure within the local area, but beyond living memory. We recognise at Thorner that, while this is notably a progressive step from Year 1, the fact that the significant figure is from the local area provides that layer of support for the children, allowing them to make personal links to this individual, without the new learning being too abstract. The children then move on to looking at an event beyond living memory, which is significant nationally. Finally, they will study two significant figures beyond and within living memory so they can begin to make links. 


Key Stage 2

In KS2, our history curriculum is organised chronologically. This allows our children to develop a strong chronological understanding as they progress through the key stage. Furthermore, this prepares our children for KS3, where in many schools, British history is taught in chronological order, continuing from KS2 learning. 


In Year 3, children start with local history post 1066. This links to their local history learning from KS1 and introduces the children to KS2 history in a geographical area that is familiar to them. Children then start their British History learning with the Stone Age to Iron Age, before moving onto learning about a First Civilisation (occurring at the same time as the Stone Age/Bronze Age, which shows the children that different historical periods can take place at the same time, but across different parts of the world). 


In Year 4, children continue chronologically by learning about Ancient Greece. They refer back to their Year 3 knowledge of the Iron Age to ‘pin’ Ancient Greece chronologically. Year 4 then moves on to look at Roman Britain along with a local historical place of interest linked to the Romans.


In Year 5, the children begin by studying the Anglo-Saxons and Scots (pre-Viking invasion). They move on to studying a non-European society c. 900 AD, which is compared to their understanding of Saxon society. Year 5 ends with the study of a theme over time (post-1066) within the local/regional area.


In Year 6, the children start with the Vikings and Saxons up to 1066. They then move to a theme study of a ‘turning point’ in British history post-1066 of looking at both world wars. This gives our children a chance to study some British history beyond our pre-1066 focus along with looking at Leeds at war (local history).


In all, the above approach to teaching history and the strategic development of substantive and disciplinary knowledge across all year groups allows children at Thorner C of E Primary to make progress in all areas of history, referring to their understanding of the complex aspects of historical events, eras and people and the way they develop their understanding of key historical concepts and skills to construct this knowledge. 



  • Children understand our past and their ancestors and are aware of how historical events have shaped the world they live in.
  • Children are able to retain prior knowledge and can explicitly make connections between their previous and current learning.
  • Children are proud of their achievements and are keen to celebrate and exhibit their work.
  • Children recognise that everyone is an historian and can express curiosity about the world around them today.
  • Children understand how to use tools and resources in history safely and appropriately.
  • Children are enthusiastic about history and are happy to explore the past through sources and evidence independently.


Here's what our children say:

"In history we always learn about the past and how inspirational people have helped us today."

"We get to learn about what life used to be like for people of different ages."

"We get to hold artefacts and ask questions to find out more about them."

“I love learning history outside of the classroom on school visits and workshops. It’s so fun and exciting!”

Thorner History Progression Documents:.