History at Millfields

At Millfields we are passionate about history and place history learning at the heart of the curriculum. Our curriculum is designed to ignite children’s curiosity and fascination about Britain’s past and that of the wider world and to equip pupils with knowledge and understanding of why the world and its people are the way they are today. Students are encouraged to ask questions as they explore the diversity of human experience, past lives and societies. Through a range of topics and time periods, children develop an understanding of how key people and events in history have had an impact on our lives today on a local, national and global scale.

History topics are carefully mapped and sequenced coherently to allow pupils to make meaningful connections. Lessons are planned so that there is time for discussion and debate, fostering an environment of enquiry which enables children to revise and justify their opinions as well as encouraging children to ask and answer questions about the past. We aspire to provide a rich and diverse curriculum that provides an accurate education into the lives of people who played a role in the history of Britain and the rest of the world. Our history curriculum is ambitious because it is knowledge-rich, promotes deep thinking, increases in complexity and allows student to apply their knowledge and understanding to develop the disciplinary skills of a historian.

Being a Historian at Millfields

Through high-quality teaching, we develop the following 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 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 evidence derived 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 judgments.

  • A desire to embrace challenging activities, including opportunities to undertake high-quality research across a range of history topics

History Big Ideas and Knowledge Categories

How History is taught at Millfields

The History curriculum is designed to help pupils form a history schema within their long-term memories. Schema theory states that all knowledge is organised into units. A schema is, therefore, a conceptual system for understanding knowledge. Our History schema is a way of organising History knowledge in a meaningful way; it is an appreciation of how facts are connected and the ways in which they are connected..

Big Ideas help form the basis of the schema. Big Ideas are key concepts that underpin the subject. There are three Big Ideas in history:

  • Investigating and interpreting the past (Recognising that our understanding of the past comes from an interpretation of the available evidence and using historical techniques to find out about the past.)

  • Building an overview of world history (Appreciating the characteristic features of the past and that these features are similar and different across time periods, and understanding that life is different for different sections of society.)

  • Understanding chronology – (Understanding how to chart the passing of time and how some aspects of history happened at similar times in different places.)

Each Big Idea has knowledge categories which help to strengthen the schema. Learning knowledge in each of the categories throughout their time in school allows pupils to express and demonstrate their understanding of the Big Idea.

These Big Ideas are returned to over and over again so the pupils gradually build understanding of them.

At Millfields we have developed detailed sequences of learning for each topic, which ensure high standards of teaching and learning in history. History knowledge and skills are taught discretely alongside English lessons where texts and writing opportunities are chosen to complement and enrich the history curriculum. We use the National Curriculum as the basis for our planning, which feeds into detailed curriculum overviews with specific objectives to be included in the history topics we teach.  These overviews ensure that progression is clear, that teachers make links to learning in previous year groups and build upon this to ensure the steady building of knowledge and skills throughout each Key Stage. Each topic begins with an engaging overarching enquiry question and each subsequent lesson focuses on one or more of the following second order history concepts: causation and consequence, change and continuity, using evidence, significance, historical interpretations, and similarity and difference. Topics are taught over a term to allow time for students to grasp and apply the key knowledge needed for a good understanding of the topic.

History Trips, Visit & Workshops

At Millfields we believe that trips, workshops and visitors are highly valuable for developing a deep understanding of the Big Ideas in history and bringing the subject to life. We make use of the fantastic museums and historical venues on our doorstep as an inner London school. Recent history trips have included Mummification workshops at The British Museum, learning about life in Roman Britain at Verulamium in St Albans and exploring Anglo-Saxon artefacts at Sutton Hoo. We regularly visit Hackney Museum to ensure children develop a good understanding of how significant events in Britain’s history are reflected in the locality.

History at Home

There are lots of ways in which you can support your child with their history learning.


In EYFS, children follow the ‘Development Matters in the EYFS’ in which key characteristics of learning offer opportunities for children to observe, think critically and explore the world around them. Children learn about the past and the passage of time by talking about past events in their own lives,  investigating and exploring family trees and asking questions about family members. They develop an interest in their own story as well as the stories in their family and explore the concepts of past, present and future.


In KS1,  children learn about the lives and achievements of significant individuals including Katherine Johnson, Florence Nightingale, Emmeline Pankhurst and Rosa Parks who have contributed to national and international achievements. They explore key events from the past such as ‘The Great Fire of London’ and gain an understanding of chronology by adding people and events to timelines. Children investigate the past using artefacts, pictures and online resources, and compare modern day living to that of the past by learning about changes to toys, communication, transport and music in the last 60 years.


In KS2, children acquire a broader understanding of national and world history. Chronological understanding is developed through the use of timelines at the start of and throughout each topic to ensure key events and people are placed in time. Children learn about changes in Britain from Stone Age to the Iron Age, explore what Britain was like during the settlement of Anglo Saxons and Scots and learn about the significance and achievements of ancient civilisations and their influence on the wider world. Children learn about World War II and its impact on the people of Britain at the time, as well as societal and industrial changes during Victorian Britain. Pupils are taught to consider the reliability of sources, use evidence to support their views and construct informed responses to historical questions.