At St Elizabeth’s, we aim for children to have acquired the essential characteristics of historians:

  • An excellent knowledge and understanding of people, events and contexts from a range of historical periods and of historical concepts and processes.
  • The ability to think critically about history and communicate ideas very confidently in styles appropriate to a range of audiences.
  • The ability to consistently support, evaluate and challenge their own and others’ views using detailed, appropriate and accurate historical events derives from a range of sources.
  • The ability to think, reflect, debate, discuss and evaluate the past, formulating and refining questions and lines of enquiry.
  • A passion for history and an enthusiastic engagement in learning, which develops their sense of curiosity about the past and their understanding of how and why people interpret the past in different ways.
  • A respect for historical evidence and the ability to make robust and critical use of it to support their explanations and judgements.
  • A desire to embrace challenging activities, including opportunities to undertake high quality research across a range of history topics.


Curriculum drivers shape our curriculum breadth in history. They are derived from an exploration of the backgrounds of our students, our beliefs about high quality education and our values. They are used to ensure we give our students appropriate and ambitious curriculum opportunities. Our curriculum drivers are community, spirituality, culture, democracy and possibilities.

Cultural capital gives our students the vital background knowledge required to be informed and thoughtful members of our community who understand and believe in British values.

Curriculum breadth is shaped by our curriculum drivers, cultural capital, subject topics and our ambition for students to study the best of what has been thought and said by many generations of academics and scholars.

Our curriculum distinguishes between subject topics and ‘Curriculum Themes’. Subject topics are the specific aspects of subjects that are studied.

Curriculum Themes tie together the subject topics into meaningful schema. The same concepts are explored in a wide breadth of topics. Through this ‘forwards-and-backwards engineering’ of the curriculum, students return to the same themes over and over and gradually build understanding of them.

In History, these curriculum themes are;

  • Investigate and interpret the past
  • Understand chronology
  • Build an overview of world history
  • Communicate historically.

Golden Threads

These ‘Golden Threads’ help students to relate each topic to previously studied topics and to form strong, meaningful schema.

In history these Golden Threads include:

  • Settlements
  • Beliefs
  • Culture and Pastimes
  • Location
  • Main events
  • Food and farming
  • Travel and exploration
  • Conflict
  • Society
  • Artefacts.

Cognitive science tells us that working memory is limited and that cognitive load is too high if students are rushed through content. This limits the acquisition of long-term memory. Cognitive science also tells us that in order for students to become creative thinkers or have a greater depth of understanding they must first master the basics, which takes time.

For each of the Curriculum Themes, learning is planned by year group, each of which includes the procedural knowledge and Golden Threads in each subject, giving students a way of expressing their understanding of the Curriculum.

Cognitive Domains

Within each year group, students gradually progress in their procedural fluency and semantic strength through three cognitive domains: Remembering, Knowing and Reasoning. The goal for students is to display sustained mastery at the ‘Knowing’ stage of understanding by the end of each phase (Key Stage 1, Lower Key Stage 2, Upper Key Stage 2) and for the most able to have a greater depth of understanding at the ‘Reasoning’ stage.

Pedagogical Content Knowledge and Strategies

As part of our progression model, we use a different pedagogical style in each of the cognitive domains of basic, advancing and deep. This is based on the research of Sweller, Kirschner and Rosenshine who argue to direct instruction in the early stages of learning and discovery-based approaches later. We use direct instruction in the basic domain and problem-based discovery in the deep domain. This is called the reversal effect.

Our curriculum design is based on evidence from cognitive science; three main principles underpin it:

  • Learning is most effective with spaced repetition.
  • Retrieval of previously learned content is frequent and regular, which increases both storage and retrieval strength.
  • By revisiting Golden Threads, pupils are able to build a strong schema, and develop skills as an Historian.

In addition to the three principles, we also understand that learning is invisible in the short-term and that sustained mastery takes time.

Our content is subject specific. We make intra-curricular links to strengthen schema.

Continuous provision, in the form of daily routines, replaces the teaching of some aspects of the curriculum and, in other cases, provides retrieval practice for previously learned content.