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St Dominic Savio Catholic Primary School ‘Serve the Lord with Joy’


The history curriculum fulfils the requirements of the National Curriculum for England. Throughout their time at St Dominic Savio our children build their chronological understanding of the past through carefully selected historical units to support children in identifying cause and effect, historical significance and change and continuity.

It is essential that children develop their disciplinary and substantive knowledge to learn about history and from history. Our children learn from a range of primary and secondary sources to understand what it is to be a historian.


It is essential that children develop their disciplinary and substantive knowledge to learn about history and from history. Our children learn from a range of primary and secondary sources to understand what it is to be a historian.




In Reception children study ‘transport in the past’ and learn how technology has developed over time. Our children bring their own interests to this unit and visit ‘Milestones Museum’ to take part in ‘hands on’ experiences, for example going aboard Victorian buses. Through learning about ‘Knowledge and understanding of the World’, the children explore British Values in their ‘Kings and Queens’ unit. This foundational knowledge focuses on The Royal Family and their place in society alongside an understanding of castles and palaces in the UK, including a trip to Windsor Castle.

A further lesson in this unit focuses on the Magna Carta which sets the basis of understanding of the Year 1 ‘Kings, Queens and Leaders’ unit. When our children leave Reception, they are able to make connections between what they have read and our world today. Our final unit ‘Stories from the past’ provides an enjoyment and a depth of reading texts linked to ‘Ancient Greek myths’ and ‘the legend of St George and the Dragon’. Greek myths will be revisited in Y4 and the Legend of St George is explored throughout the school as St George represents one of our houses.


Year 1


In Year 1 the ‘Discovering History’ unit introduces children to the discipline of history and creates a solid foundation to help us understand what a historian is and how sources and evidence help in uncovering facts about the past. This follows on from their understanding reception and is a thread throughout all year groups. Chronological understanding is key to this unit as children begin to identify what happened in the past and differentiate between events from a long time ago. Children learn about the Kings and Queens in Reception and Royal family trees in Year 1 which gives an understanding of the monarchy ready for the Y2 unit on the Tudors.

Lesson 4 introduces pupils to the role of archaeologists, they will learn that archaeologists study the things left behind by the people who lived before us. This prepares our children for their work on the Stone Age to the Iron Age in Year 3. Our children also study the history of our school by listening to real accounts from past pupils and identifying how the school building has changed over time.

The second unit in Y1 is ‘Kings, Queens and Leaders’. This learning is centred around historically significant turning points in British history including the establishment of parliament and politics today. The changing role of the monarchy is explored throughout the school and marked through key events such the King’s Coronation. This helps to deepen chronological understanding. In the lesson about Olivier Cromwell, they will also explore the important role that religion has played in shaping British history.

The next unit for Year 1 is ‘Parliament and Prime Ministers’ which builds directly on the ‘Kings, Queens and Leaders’ unit. This includes looking at changes in living memory such as a new Prime Minister. Through role play children will experience what it is like to vote and how all votes are counted as part of democracy. This is then revisited in Year 4 when studying Ancient Greece as well as the important role of parliament during World War I and II in Year 6.


Year 2


Year 2 begins with our ‘Romans in Britain unit’ which builds on their understanding of power and monarchy from Reception and Year 1. This is their first introduction to the concept of ‘empire’ which will grow and develop in the units of Y3 Ancient Egyptians and the first and second World War in Y6. They have also learnt about the UK and the seven continents in geography. The Romans are studied in more detail in Y4. The children will learn about significant people such as Julius Caesar and Boudicca. They will analyse continuity and change between life in Britain before, during and after the Romans (for example the Anglo Saxons and Vikings covered in Y3).

The Tudors follows this unit through lessons about the power dynasties where power was inherited and passed down through generations, predominately the male line. They study Henry VIII and his three children looking at the family tree and how each monarch shaped England. Children use their knowledge of the Catholic faith to explore the role of the Pope in Henry’s request for a divorce from Catherine of Aragon and the subsequent fall out that occurred. Through storytelling, the children learn about the English Reformation and the religious changes that took place. Children compare and contrast the life of the rich and poor, and between men and women. This is a theme across the curriculum and aims to inspire children to discuss social inequality.

The final unit in Year 2 is ‘Powerful Voices’ with lessons about Gandi (political freedom), Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King (equality and discrimination), Malala Yousafzai (access to education for girls), Greta Thunberg (climate change activist and raising awareness of Asperger’s syndrome) and David Attenborough (sustainability). Children learn that historians study significant people who have made big changes in the world. The lessons build on an understanding of chronology from the 19th Century to the present day. This unit teaches children that some significant people were not born into powerful positions (like a king or queen) but were able to use their voices to spread their beliefs to influence change. Children continue to learn about human rights in the Y5 unit on the Transatlantic Slave Trade.


Year 3


The first unit in Y3 is the Stone Age to the Iron Age, this is divided into three sections; The Palaeolithic, Mesolithic and Neolithic age. This unit builds on from ‘Discovering History’ in Y1. The children will learn that archaeologists find out about the past from what people left behind. Throughout the unit, children will look at the disciplinary concept of continuity and change. The children will also look at sources and evidence in each lesson and be introduced to some important discoveries that archaeologists have made. Studying this unit helps children to understand the history of Britain as a coherent chronological narrative, starting from the earliest times. The Stone Age to the Iron Age study leads on to the topic of ‘Ancient Egypt’ as children will be able to look for similarities and differences between civilisations in Britain and Europe.

The second unit is ‘The Ancient Egyptians’ which covers some of the same time period as the ‘Stone Age to the Iron Age’. This allows children to make comparisons between what was happening in Egypt and Britain as the same point in time. Looking at the importance of the River Nile, the children will also learn about settlements and rivers in Geography this year. Children will look at Ancient Egypt’s hierarchal society, similarities and differences (rich and poor, men and women) and religious beliefs. This unit helps children develop a sense of chronology and appreciation of the ancient world. The children will build upon their knowledge of Egypt in the Y3 Art curriculum.

The final history unit in Y3 is Anglo-Saxon, Scots and Vikings, this builds on chronologically from previous units and begins by recapping what they have learnt in Y2 Romans. They apply their knowledge of Europe including Northern Europe where the Anglo-Saxons and the Vikings originated from. Geography-based units such as ‘UK’ in Y1 and ‘Northern Europe’ in Y2 give pupils the prerequisite knowledge the access this unit. Later, in Y3, pupils can apply their history knowledge when studying ‘Anglo-Saxon Art’. Throughout the curriculum, the pupils will build on the concepts developed in this unit, such as migration and religion in England from 1066.


Year 4


The first unit of ‘Life in Ancient Rome’ builds on the unit ‘Romans’ taught in Y2. The children study the Roman invasion of Britain and learn how at the time people living in Britain were not as advanced as the Romans who used their large army and technology to grow and build their empire. Before this unit the children will have studied the Y4 Geography unit on ‘Mediterranean Europe’ children need the prerequisite knowledge to understand the location of Europe, Italy and Rome. The Roman Empire is vital for understanding the formation of the political structures of Europe.  Pupils will build on their substantive knowledge of the concepts of government and democracy.

Building on knowledge of Ancient Rome from the previous unit, the children will now look in more depth at the Roman Empire, how it expanded and ultimately fell. Children will explore concepts such as empire, civilisation, conflict and religion.

The unit of Ancient Greece builds on chronologically from the study of Ancient Egypt. Children will also have some prior knowledge of how civilisation began along the Nile in Ancient Egypt (this is also studied as part of the Y3 class name). It also elaborates on substantive concepts of power and democracy which were first developed in Y1 in ‘Kings and Queens’ and ‘Parliament and Prime Ministers’. This unit links to the Arts curriculum, where children look at Greek Architecture in Y3. Studying this period of History provides children with a fascinating insight into how the Greeks from different city states lived, their Gods they worshipped and the stories they told of monsters, heroes, challenges and bravery. It equips them with an understanding of what a legacy is; how there are things in our lives, such as how we vote, words we speak, sports we participate in, stories we tell, that remain from an earlier time.


Year 5


The unit of Baghdad 900CE build chronologically from the Romans unit in Y4 and links to children’s prior knowledge of Islam (studied as part of multi-faiths in RE). The children also study Islamic Art and Architecture alongside this unit. The content of this unit links directly with the Geography curriculum building on Y3 ‘rivers and settlements’ through the study of Baghdad as a crossing point for traders due to its proximity to the River Tigris. During this unit, children are building on well-established substantive concepts of power, religion, civilisation and conflict.

The children then go onto learn about ‘The Transatlantic Slave Trade’ starting with an introduction of ‘The Early British Empire’ to give them the background knowledge of how Europeans colonised, competed and traded goods across the world. The children will also have previously learnt about slavery (in Romans Y4) and different continents (Geography). The children will learn about the abolition of slavery and the lives of significant abolitionists.

The unit ‘Victorians’ begins with a study of the ‘Industrial Revolution’. During this unit, the children learn about the significant life of Queen Victoria: both her personal life and some of her decisions as a monarch, including her involvement with the British Empire. In addition to the political context of this time, this unit delves deeper into the social aspects of the rich and poor which links to our English unit on ‘Street Child’ by Berlie Doherty. During this unit, children build on their knowledge of the substantive concepts of monarchy, industrialisation, urbanisation, empire, imperialism and poverty. Y5 also take their learning outside the classroom to ‘Reading Museum’ to experience the life as a child in the Victorian Age and learn more about what Reading was like during this time.


Year 6


The unit of ‘World War One’ builds on chronologically from ‘Victorians’. The children will develop two key substantive concepts: Empire and War. The children will begin to look at the causes that lead to the war and use their existing knowledge of the British Empire to understand how growing conflict between European powers was enough to spark a world war that took the lives of millions of people. They will use their knowledge of industrialisation (Y5) to look at how the role of new technology resulted in the introduction of new weapons. Towards the end of the unit the children will look at the consequences of World War One both at home in Britain and in the wider world.

Our children would have learnt about the signing of the Armistice officially ending the war in 1918 which lead them on this unit ‘The Rise of Hitler’. Pupils will learn how the Nazis controlled many aspects of life in Germany during this period, including roles of men, women and education. In 1939 Britain declared War on Germany as a response to the invasion of Poland which they will explore in their next unit.

The unit ‘World War II’ begins by securing essential background knowledge about the war before looking in more depth including where and when it took place and who was involved. Children will be encouraged to use their geographical knowledge to locate battles that took place on a map of the world. The unit focuses on the Battle of Britain and the Blitz from a military context. The social context is explored in more detail at the end of the unit when children look at life on the Home Front. Key disciplinary concepts are covered in this unit such as: historically significant e.g. why is it important to learn about the holocaust? Why are these events and people studied by historians today?

Children will have the opportunity to apply their historical knowledge from this year during a local trip to Woodley Airfield where children will see real life equipment used in the war. They will also take the opportunity to visit Woodley Memorial where they will read local first hand experiences of the Woodley citizens from the time.



History Overview