Our Curriculum


“History, the study of the past, is all around us; we are continually making history through our  thoughts, words and actions. History is personal and global; it is everyday life and momentous  occasions. History is about people. Through our study of the past, we can understand how our own world works. We can also  understand how and why things happen to us. For example, have you ever wondered why the polar ice caps are melting? The answer partially lies in history. The Industrial Revolution caused the birth of  industrial towns and factories, belching out smoke and pollution. It also caused the mechanisation of  society, adding to the pollution. Could this partially explain the pollution problems that we face  today? History is not just about the past!” – Melanie Jones, Historical Association

For more information about Riverside’s approach to history, please refer to our History subject policy, progression of knowledge and skills and curriculum map.

The Riverside History curriculum has been updated for 2023-2024  to integrate and reinforce our fundamental substantive and disciplinary/second-order concepts in history, to make it broader and more ambitious. 

Curriculum Coverage 

History is taught throughout the school to help pupils gain a coherent knowledge and understanding of Britain’s past and that of the wider world. In doing so, children’s historical curiosity is inspired, allowing them to ask perceptive questions, think critically, weigh evidence, sift arguments, and develop perspective and judgement. Children will also begin to understand the complexity of people’s lives, the process of change, the diversity of societies and relationships between different groups, as well as their own identity and the challenges of their time (National Curriculum 2014).

It is our intention that pupils become more expert as they progress through the curriculum, accumulating and connecting substantive and disciplinary historical knowledge.

  • Substantive knowledge (know what) – this is the subject knowledge and explicit vocabulary used to learn about the content of each unit of work.
  • Disciplinary knowledge (know how) – their knowledge about how historians investigate the past and how they construct historical claims, arguments, and accounts. It is through disciplinary knowledge that children gradually become more expert by thinking like a historian.

The history curriculum at Riverside ensures that children develop a deep knowledge of the key substantive and second-order historical concepts as they revisit them through a range of knowledge-rich units of work. Substantive concepts are part of the substance or content knowledge in a subject.

Pupils begin their formal history education in Year 1, where history is a national curriculum subject. Although children in Reception do not study history as a separate subject, the early years foundation stage framework (EYFS) identifies important knowledge and skills that can support their learning in the future. As part of ‘Understanding the world’, children are expected to know about some similarities and differences between the past and now, and to understand the past through settings, characters and events they learn about. The EYFS also highlights the importance of children developing vocabulary that will support their understanding across a range of areas. At key stage 1, the national curriculum sets out broad descriptors of content to guide maintained schools in designing their curriculum. Although academies do not have to teach the national curriculum, their curriculum must reflect the national curriculum’s scope and ambition. Within these broad guidelines, maintained schools and academies have significant flexibility to choose what pupils will learn from Reception to the end of Year 2.

At key stage 2, the national curriculum identifies more specific content areas for pupils to study. These range from the earliest human civilisations to the early medieval period. Pupils also learn about historical concepts and the methods and approaches taken by historians and others who study the past. It is important to note that, while historical concepts should be introduced to pupils in key stage 2, this is the start of a long curriculum journey to understanding the complexity of how historians study the past. 

EYFS Autumn: 

How have I changed since I was a baby? 

Autumn 1:

Year 2: Where did Kings and Queens live through time? 

Year 3: How did Britain change during pre-history? 

Year 4: Where and when did the earliest civilisations begin? What were some of the significant achievements for the Ancient Egyptians and what did it help them achieve? 

Year 5 and 6: What were  some of the impacts of World War II on the people in our locality? 

Autumn 2

Year 1: What changes have happened to our school and streets within living memory? 

Year 2:Who was Walter Tull and why should we remember him? 

There have also been history-linked Remembrance assemblies and events in classes, including local war memorial visits for Y5 and 6 and Y2. This links with their work on WW2 and Walter Tull/WW1.

Year 5/6 have visited Duxford in the Autumn term as part of their work on WW2

KS2 Timeline

At Riverside, we understand the importance of our children developing a secure sense of chronology. In KS2, we have a shared timeline which shows how the overall narrative, or wider history fits together with periods being studied to help children to form the ‘complete’ narrative. The timeline shows all of the time periods studied as the children progress across KS2; it shows periodisation, intervals and duration, the relative position of periods on the overall narrative. There are bars for periods or a duration of time and arrows for single events or ‘points’. Links between British and world history can be made using the bars/scales to support. In the photo below, for example, Y5 are  looking at the  school timeline to help them understand and make links between their previous learning about Anglo-Saxons and Vikings to their current study of the Early Islamic Civilisation, 

The whole school timeline is used in conjunction with seperate timelines in classrooms for particular periods of history currently being studied. These establish the internal narrative of each period of history which is more detailed and sets out the narrative to be taught across that half-term. 

Black History Week

Every year in October, Riverside Primary School celebrates Black History Week. During this special week, each phase of the school focuses their learning around a different black individual or period of history in order to learn more about black history, heritage, culture and achievements :

EYFS: We are all different 

Year 1: Mary Seacole

Year 2: Floella Benjamin

Year 3: Katherine Johnson 

Year 4:  Rosa Parks 

Year 5 and 6: The Slave Trade

Here’s what some of our children had to say about the week:

“We got to learn about racism but also about inspirational people’s lives. For example, Katherine Johnson. We think it was hard for her because she was a woman and was black. It inspired me because she showed our STAR values. It’s inspired me to work really hard in my life.”

My Mum’s family used to live in the Caribbean so it was really interesting for me to learn about my family history!”

“We need to change the future for the better.”


Mrs K Watts
History Lead

If you have any questions regarding the curriculum, please email our Curriculum lead and Deputy Head, Mrs Watts.


School History