History and Geography
At Elmlea, History and Geography is taught via a topic-based approach. Every topic brings together
learning across the curriculum but commonly has History or Geography as a lead subject –
particularly in Key Stage 2.
In the Infant School, our focus is on children developing their knowledge and understanding of their
place in the world with a particular focus on our locality and their own family history. Each year
group follows their own set of topic cycles on an annual basis.
In the Junior School, each topic covers a full term. Years 3 and 4 follow the same topics, as do Years 5
and 6, on a two-year cycle. We have decided on this unique approach because of the overwhelming
benefits it provides in enabling teachers to deliver a rich curriculum to pupils. Throughout their time
in the Junior School, children will have the opportunity to study each of the topics, with Years 4 and
6 children being challenged with more sophisticated content, discussions or tasks to ensure
progression of their skills and knowledge.
Our goal is that when children leave Elmlea, they will have developed a solid foundation of historical
and geographical knowledge and skills which will prepare them for future study and equip them to
understand the ever developing world in which they live.
When children start at Elmlea, we encourage them to develop an understanding of their own family
history and equip them with the vocabulary to do so. This builds into learning about the past
through important historical figures and events before encouraging children to ask questions about
how these people and events have influenced our lives now.
Once children move to the Junior School, we pay particular attention to developing their
chronological awareness of the time periods they have studied. We use visual timelines regularly to
help children ‘place’ time periods or events and make historical links between all of their learning
across the curriculum, including in Key Stage 1. We also aim to develop children’s awareness of how
we use primary and secondary sources to learn about the past and encourage them to challenge the
reliability of these sources. Finally, our History curriculum has been designed to provide children
with the opportunity to learn about a range of historical periods: both ancient history, recent
history, local history, British/European history as well as studying civilisations in different parts of the
world. It has also been designed to allow us to re-visit key concepts and build on prior learning.
Our Geography curriculum strives to develop children’s awareness and understanding of the world
in which they live. This includes a comprehensive knowledge of places and locations including their
local area (in KS1), continents, European countries and other significant countries studied. Across the
trust, we encourage children to compare where they live with a variety of other places studied with
an emphasis on how different people live. We want children at Elmlea to have a secure
understanding of human and physical geography, the relationship between the two and a strong
understanding that the way we choose to live impacts the natural world. Our goal is that children
will build on their prior learning to enhance their geographical knowledge and skills – particularly
their fieldwork – year on year.
Depending on the current topic, either History or Geography will be taught by class teachers most
weeks in KS1 and once a week in KS2. New topics are launched with visual, active sessions to engage
curiosity and enthusiasm. Key vocabulary and the lesson enquiry question is introduced at the start
of each lesson and reinforced during the topic through quizzes and displays. Lesson resources and
activities are differentiated so that all pupils can access the History and Geography curriculums.
We aim to enrich children’s learning through additional trips, visitors or experiences which enable us
to access resources that we don’t already have in school. For example, in Reception the children
enjoy a walk around the local area to learn about their community. In Year 1, children visit the S.S.
Great Britain to support their work on Brunel. In Year 2, children visit Caldicot Castle during their
Castles topic. Once children reach the Junior School, in Years 3 and 4 they enjoy a Tomb Raider
Escape Room experience as part of their Ancient Egypt topic and visit Wessex Water during their
Geography themed topic ‘Splash!’. In Years 5 and 6, the WWII topic is brought to life with an
evacuee trip to the Swindon STEAM Museum and the Bristol topic is enhanced with an historical
walking tour of the city centre alongside geographical fieldwork in Millennium Square. In addition,
ahead of each new topic, we send a letter to parents outlining our plans, recommending additional
learning they might like to do as a family as well as seeking any experts within our school community
who might be willing to contribute enrichment opportunities.