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A people without knowledge of their past history, origin and culture is like a tree without roots.

Marcus Garvey


What is History?

The study of or a record of past events considered together, especially events of a particular period, country, or subject: Cambridge Dictionary

The bodies of knowledge about the past produced by historians, together with everything that is involved in the production, communication of, and teaching about that knowledge. Professor Arthur Marwick, The Open University

History is the study of the past – specifically the people, societies, events and problems of the past- as well as our attempts to understand them. It is a pursuit common to all human societies.


Why do we study History?

Understanding the past and how it links to the present helps our understanding of our long human story. All societies are living histories – the product of all that has been inherited from the past, shaping our present  and contributing to our future. We live in societies with languages, cultures, traditions and religions that have evolved over millennia. We use technologies that have developed from the earliest flint tools to computerised virtual assistant technology – each stage contributing a chapter to the narrative of our human experience. We aim to enable pupils to understand that there are multiple interpretations of the past – the past is not simply ‘dead and gone’ but is continually being re-interpreted.


The National curriculum states the purpose of historical study as:

Helping pupils to gain a coherent knowledge and understanding of Britain’s past and that of the wider world. It should inspire pupils’ curiosity to know more about the past. Teaching should equip pupils to ask perceptive questions, think critically, weigh evidence, sift arguments, and develop perspective and judgement. History helps pupils to understand the complexities 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.


Through their study of the Opossum History curriculum, we intend that pupils will:
1. Develop an understanding of the history of Britain and the wider world  

Pupils will develop a wide body of substantive knowledge of how past societies in Britain and the wider world were built, operated and changed over time and how societies influenced others. They will make connections and comparisons with contemporary society. At KS2, learning about Britain’s history will be broadly chronological, to support understanding of development and change over time. We intend that historical concepts will be repeated over time (in different meaningful contexts), so that pupils will have the opportunity to build their schemata and strengthen their understanding with each encounter.


2. Gain knowledge beyond their experience

Pupils will learn about wide ranging events, concepts and significant people beyond their everyday experience, through stories from the past. They will consider lessons (good and bad) which can be drawn from these narratives to support their understanding of cause and consequence. We intend to share powerful stories and lessons from the past with pupils, which they may not otherwise have the opportunity to hear.


3. Understand identity

By learning about the history of Britain, including the migration of groups of people from prehistoric times onwards, the curriculum aims to instil a sense of belonging for all pupils – helping pupils to recognise their story within the long history of this country and the global community. Exploring the achievements of this country and significant individuals throughout history may contribute to a sense of identity and connectedness. By including historical content and narratives from the communities of origin of large proportions of our school population, we intend that all pupils will feel represented and can recognise their voice in the story of Britain.


4. Developing an enquiring and analytical mind

Historical study requires learner to enquire; seek, analyse and critically evaluate evidence; and draw conclusions. By integrating disciplinary knowledge into each study, we intend that pupils will be able to construct and present coherent historical arguments from their findings. They will gain an understanding of how people’s claims about what happened in the past can be tested. They can support their evaluation of truth by reference to evidence. They grasp that reconstruction and interpretation are used by historians to make judgements about historical events.


5. Acquire historical vocabulary

We intend that pupils will develop increasingly wide historical vocabulary across their primary school experience. This will enable them to speak a ‘disciplinary language’ in common with other historians. Mastering vocabulary relating to knowledge and concepts supports pupils to understand material they encounter in historical sources and the ability to communicate it clearly.


6. Become inspired

Through the provision of a History curriculum in which pupils study wide ranging content, enriched by contextual hinterland material, we intend that pupils will experience a sense of excitement from learning about the past and their place in the long history of human civilisation. We intend that this will inspire pupils to want to continue their learning in History as they move to the next stage of their education.


Opossum Values

Through their study of people and societies of the past, Opossum values are realised.


Being respectful - demonstrating respect for the viewpoints of others by listening courteously and debating respectfully.

Being aspirational – an expectation that pupils are capable of research, discussion, debate and opinion on complex topics

Being caring – developing empathy for individuals and groups of people who faced challenging circumstances in the periods studied

Having integrity - Seeking truth by considering and critically analysing historical perspectives and interpretations. They show a respect for evidence, a concern for the truth and for valid argument, not mere assertion.

Being creative – using creative skills to communicate historical information         

Being community minded – recognise how contemporary communities and society have been impacted by historical events


Scope and sequence


The Opossum History curriculum fulfils and exceeds the requirements of the National curriculum. Where opportunities have presented to select specific learning contexts e.g. KS1 significant people, individuals for study have been chosen to include those who represent the communities of our schools. For example, the inclusion of Mansa Musa and Ibn Battuta (Geography/History linked unit) enables a Muslim perspective to be represented in the curriculum; similarly a study of Migration allows the story of some of our migrant communities to be told. Where possible, a Black History perspective is planned into studies e.g. Victorians- embedding rather than including Black History as an ‘add on’. A conscious effort has also been made to represent women in historical studies. This has been specifically included through the study of significant women. In the 2021-2022 year, a school wide half term study has been devoted to a study of Monarchy (Queens) – with a focus on Queen Elizabeth II central in each year group. This is in recognition and celebration of the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee, a moment which will be significant in the history of the United Kingdom. As London schools, we have taken the opportunity to include elements of the London Curriculum (GLA, 2017) so that aspects of London’s rich and significant history are understood by its resident pupils.


Units of study have been sequenced to build pupils’ understanding as they progress through the school.

In EYFS, historical learning begins in ‘Understanding the World’ where children begin to make sense of their local surroundings, community and the wider world. By engaging with a broad selection of fiction and non-fiction texts, rhymes and poems children learn and understand concepts such as past and present and talk about similarities and differences between people around them and their role in society. Using contexts familiar to the children e.g. ‘All about me’, they begin to make sense of their own life-story and family history by looking at photos and sharing family stories. Children also investigate familiar objects, situations or places which were different in the past e.g. telephone, local shop. The stories and language frames used in EYFS allow modelling and repetition of phrases that help children understand the concepts of past and present and develop their vocabulary. By manipulating (playing with) artefacts and looking at pictures, children have their first introduction to historical sources. 

Learning in KS1 builds on the Early Years’ experience by investigating topics within living memory and the lives of significant individuals. Topics may begin with children’s experience before comparing this with other historical periods – for example toys now, in the mid 20th century and in great grandparents’ childhood. These studies enable young pupils to secure their understanding of how the past differs to the present and that, over time, things and places change. The KS1 curriculum is predominantly comparative rather than investigating a particular era. In the Year 2 study of the Great Fire of London however, pupils study a specific event in depth. This study allows the opportunity to introduce disciplinary concepts e.g. consequence and historical significance. Each significant person and event studied is included in a visual chronology which is built upon throughout KS2.

Learning in KS2 is chronologically sequenced for studies specifically relating to Britain; this is to support pupils to understand the narrative in order, particularly in relation to invasion and settlement by different groups. Core studies of ancient societies and non-European study are allocated across the key stage. An overview study, exploring buildings and architecture in early civilisations has been included in Year 3 to enable an introduction to early civilisations before the planned depth studies are undertaken. All time periods studied are added to a visual chronology to secure this understanding and references are made to concurrent societies studied e.g. Mayans (250-900CE) and Anglo Saxons (410-1066 CE) to support pupils to make connections in their learning. KS2 concludes with a study of the impact of the WWII Blitz on London and incorporates aspects of the London Curriculum unit ‘Rebuilding London’. This study explores the rebuilding of London, an aspect of British history since 1066, following two significant events – Great Fire of London and the Blitz (circling back to the first major event study from KS1).


Historical Terms

Substantive Knowledge – knowledge about the past (content)

Disciplinary Knowledge – knowledge about how historians investigate the past and construct claims, arguments, accounts

Substantive Concepts – abstract concepts such as invasion, empire, trade, monarchy; some of these concepts will be regularly encountered across the history curriculum

Disciplinary Concepts – develop pupils’ rational and critical thinking i.e. cause, consequence, change and continuity, similarity and difference, historical significance, sources and evidence, historical interpretations




Opossum Federation History Curriculum


Autumn 1

Autumn 2

Spring 1

Spring 2

Summer 1



Who am I? 

Where am I from? 

What makes my community? 

What’s my role in my community? 

What’s my role in my community?

How can I make an impact? 

Year 1


People who changed our world

Rosa Parks (BHM)

Millicent Fawcett

Malala Yousafzai(BHM)




Monarchy – Queens


British Royal Family


Year 2

The Great Fire of London

Significant People

Mansa Musa (BHM)

Martin Luther King(BHM)



Monarchy – Queens


Elizabeth I

How has my high street changed over time?

Year 3

Stone age to Iron age (prehistory 10000BCE-200BCE and onwards)


Overview topic – Buildings in early civilisations


Ancient Egypt



Monarchy – Queens




Year 4




Septimus Severus and soldiers (BHM)


Explorers (Hist/Geog) e.g

Ibn Battuta

Amelia Earhart

Amy Johnson

NASA explorer

Modern day explorer

Monarchy – Queens






Year 5

Ancient Greece

(700-480 BCE/Classical age 480-323BCE)


Anglo Saxons+ Scots

(410-1066 CE)



Monarchy – Queens



Eleanor of Aquitaine





Study beyond 1066

Significant turning point in British history


NB: 2021-2022

Anglo Saxons

Migration (Hist/Geog)

Study beyond 1066

Changes in social  history



Monarchy – Queens



How has monarchy changed over time?


Local History -The Blitz

 As aspect of British history beyond 1066


Rebuilding London  (London Curriculum)