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11 October 2023

Unlocking the Past: an overview of United Curriculum for primary history

The United Curriculum for Primary History is a meticulously crafted educational journey that aims to provide primary level pupils with a deep understanding of history.

In this interview with Lucy Hawker, Primary History Curriculum Lead, we'll delve into the key features, objectives, and strategies that set this curriculum apart and make it an exceptional tool for educators.

Three Pillars of Knowledge

"Our curriculum aims to equip pupils firstly with powerful, 'substantive knowledge,' which includes core historical facts, such as key dates, notable figures and significant events," Lucy explains. This foundational knowledge forms the bedrock upon which pupils build their historical understanding. "Pupils are offered a coherent and chronological exploration of British and global history," Lucy notes. "Crucially, this substantive knowledge is selected to foster their understanding of three central vertical concepts: Quest for Knowledge, Power, Empire and Democracy, and Community and Family." This approach ensures that pupils understand the broader societal and cultural contexts of the periods they study.

Thoughtful Sequencing

"Our curriculum builds upon the National Curriculum as a starting point," Lucy emphasises, "ensuring that pupils progressively develop powerful knowledge throughout each term and year." The United Curriculum is designed for long-term retention and understanding. It carefully scaffolds learning, allowing pupils to revisit and apply their knowledge in increasingly complex contexts. "We prioritise the solidification of foundational knowledge, skills, and concepts before advancing," Lucy affirms. "Pupils revisit prior learning and apply their understanding in new contexts, reinforcing their grasp of historical content." This approach promotes true comprehension rather than rote memorisation. It empowers pupils to think critically and apply their knowledge as they learn how to ‘think like a Historian’.

Relevance and Effectiveness

"Our curriculum integrates a diverse range of historical perspectives, voices, and experiences," Lucy emphasises, "building pupils’ comprehensive understanding of history and its impact on various communities." By including diverse perspectives, the United Curriculum for Primary History encourages pupils to see the subject from multiple angles, fostering a more nuanced and complete understanding of the past. "Our curriculum ensures that all pupils see themselves represented positively as well as giving them the opportunity to explore diverse global civilisations," Lucy explains. "It incorporates the experiences, both positive and negative, of ethnic minorities in British history."

Emphasis on Pedagogy

“We adhere to Barak Rosenshine's ten Principles of Instruction in crafting our lessons," Lucy notes. “Lessons consistently commence with a review of prior knowledge and progress in small, teacher-led steps with explicit modelling and “thinking aloud” and guided practice. We prioritise teacher-led instruction, which gradually fades through the “practice” parts of the lesson, fostering a high success rate among pupils." This pedagogical approach ensures that each lesson is designed to maximise pupils’ engagement and understanding. "The United Curriculum is adaptable to accommodate varying learning needs" Lucy assures. "Teachers should tailor lessons to their classes, and we provide scaffolds, printable resources, and suggested adaptations for each stage of the lessons." This flexibility empowers educators to meet the unique needs of their pupils, ensuring that all learners have the opportunity to excel.

Resources and Materials

"Our lesson resources include pupil-facing materials (Lesson Slides and Printable Resources), suggested lesson plans that break down the small steps of the lesson and include detailed modelling notes for teachers, and Teacher CPD Packs," Lucy highlights. These resources provide educators with a wealth of tools to facilitate effective and engaging history lessons. "The Teacher Pack for each unit provides background subject knowledge for teachers," Lucy states, "going beyond what pupils need to know, key vocabulary, further reading suggestions, common misconceptions and how to address them, and a breakdown of the sequence of lessons. Each of our units also comes with a CPD video which talks teachers through the key things they need to know and think about before teaching the unit, for example highlighting common misconceptions or suggesting ways in which lessons may be adapted.” This comprehensive support ensures that educators feel confident and well-prepared to deliver high-quality history education.

The United Curriculum for Primary History stands as a beacon of comprehensive and effective history education. Grounded in research-based approaches and continuously refined, it empowers pupils to not only understand history, but to engage with it in a meaningful and impactful way. With its rich resources and adaptable approach, it is a vital tool for educators shaping the historians of tomorrow.


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