Following the publication of the new Ofsted Framework, it was obvious that we needed to develop our History curriculum further and so we decided to do some research into the different schemes available.
We brainstormed a list of things we were looking for in a scheme – it was a very long list! After browsing lots of sample plans, we tried Rising Stars History and it ticked all the boxes.
At the start of every topic, teachers are presented with a ‘Unit Overview’. Our staff have found this really helpful in preparing for a unit of work. As well as providing an overview of what will be covered, it also includes: sticky knowledge, key vocabulary, places to visit and essential subject knowledge for teachers. Our teachers have used this information to develop Knowledge Organisers for each topic – these are stuck in pupil books at the start of each unit.
Help pupils communicate their knowledge and understanding of historical concepts
Each week of planning includes a detailed lesson plan, high quality interactive teaching slides and many other online resources. Pupil activities are fun and engaging - helping our pupils to communicate their knowledge and understanding of historical concepts. Our children have enjoyed role plays, debates, sequencing tasks and various other activities that have developed their basic skills. All topics include an enquiry question that pupils get the opportunity to investigate through the use of a wide range of sources including first-hand accounts, artefacts and photographs. Our pupils always look forward to the ‘Big Finish’ (at the end of every unit) when they get the chance to apply their knowledge and to celebrate what they have achieved. Our children were really excited about a recent dress-up day, a mini-museum in the school hall (showcasing their work) and projects such as creating a pop-up seaside and time capsule. There are recurring themes between the different topics, which has helped our pupils to remember the key knowledge taught.
Editable Teaching Slides and Lesson Plans
It was important to us that we had a scheme that we could adapt according to our context, locality and needs of our pupils. Unlike many other schemes, the lesson plans and teaching slides are available in a format that can be easily edited. Initially, we started by adapting the three local history units. Our Yr3 teacher worked with our Local Heritage Team to develop a trail of buildings worth preserving in our local area. This culminated in a campaign to save some of the buildings at risk from development with the children writing to our local MP – Boris Johnson. Yr2 pupils were visited by a local historian who gave them some background on significant figures who lived in our local area. The children were really enthusiastic to find out more about these ‘local heroes’. Our eldest pupils visited the RAF Bunker Museum to find out more about the impact of WW1 and 2 on our local area. This included looking at photographs of the impact of war and listening to first-hand accounts from veterans who had served at the RAF base. As we have a high percentage of Polish pupils who attend our school, Year 6 also spent time looking at the importance of the Polish Air Force during the Battle of Britain. Staff meetings were used to adapt planning and teaching slides, including information and photos that are relevant to our context.
Measure progress with built-in Progression Charts
The Rising Stars History Progression Charts map a clear progression of knowledge and skills across year groups. Each topic includes at least one ‘Key Assessment Opportunity’ task based on these charts. Our teachers mark these activities in-depth using the guidance provided. This helps us to identify those pupils ‘Working Towards’, ‘Meeting’ and ‘Exceeding’ the expected standard. We track this information termly, using the information to identify gaps in knowledge and next steps in learning. Our teachers have found this really helpful in identifying what pupils need to do to achieve the higher standard and we have started to develop a portfolio of work that we consider to be ‘exceeding’. Each topic includes a quiz that can be used at the end of the unit to help find out what the children have remembered from their work. We also revisit these quizzes throughout the year - helping our pupils to remember ‘sticky knowledge’.
Over the last few months, our staff have participated in a number of Rising Stars webinars increasing their confidence and subject knowledge. More recently, we have been lucky enough to get the opportunity to work with Bev Forrest (creator of RSH), who has offered us invaluable advice on how to personalise our curriculum whilst developing local history and embedding diversity. We still have further work we want to do this year but the Rising Stars History Scheme has been a fantastic starting point for our History teaching.
By Simon Ellis-Callow
Assistant Headteacher/History Lead
Find out more about Rising Stars History or take a look at the great webinars on offer with History expert and Rising Stars History author Bev Forrest.