Humanities

"Few will have the greatness to bend history itself; but each of us can work to change a small portion of events, and in the total; of all of those acts will be written the history of this generation."

Robert Kennedy

Our Humanities Intent


What is Humanities?

Humanities is the teaching of History and Geography and, at West Bretton School, it is taught through an exciting cross-curricular topic-based approach. Termly or half termly, a new ‘topic’ is introduced to the children and the children explore key knowledge, facts and vocabulary from this through enquiry-based learning as ‘Historians’ and ‘Geographers’.

At West Bretton, we believe in bringing History and Geography to life resulting in children having a love of the humanities subjects, which will stay with them for life. These subjects allow children to explore, not only their locality, but beyond that - the exploration of other countries, past societies and cultures from around the world. Through exploring their locality, our children learn about their past and how this has shaped their lives and the lives of members of our community.

As Historians, we bring the past to life for our pupils and aim to deliver lessons which will spark their enthusiasm and curiosity. Children investigate a range of sources, and through perceptive questioning, gain an understanding of the similarities and differences between different periods in history and the impact this has had on present day. Our children learn about significant figures and historical events and gain an understanding of chronological order.

As Geographers, our children will gain an understanding of the world – it’s continents and oceans, and extend their place and locational knowledge outwards from West Bretton, Wakefield and Yorkshire to countries located much further afield in the continents of Africa and South America. The children will examine both human and physical geographical features and how these have changed overtime.

Whilst investigating these different areas, the children will develop their map and fieldwork skills to help them interpret them further. Observing, collecting, analysing, evaluating and communicating geographical information through practical hands on activities will play a key role in being a ‘Geographer’ at West Bretton. We aim to develop our students to be global citizens.

The knowledge and skills required to excel in this subject are set out in the progression documents below.


Our Humanities Implementation

As we have mixed age classes at West Bretton, History and Geography is taught at on a 2-year cycle of ‘topics’ from year 1. In Foundation Stage, children are taught around thematic events and child led topics. This comes under the learning of, ‘Understanding the world’. Particular themes are adult led and explored to ensure that the skills of exploration and investigation are nurtured. In particular learning about, ‘Past and present’, ‘People, Culture and Communities’ and ‘The Natural World’ leads into learning in year 1.

See the humanities overview below for more information.

In both History and Geography, our children start by learning about their own environment and events that they are familiar with or that they can relate to.
In History, as they progress through the school, children are given the opportunity to go back further in time and investigate periods they may be less familiar with, ensuring that they have a good understanding of important changes, as well as how each period links to, and impacts upon the next. 

In Geography, the children’s learning journey starts with very familiar areas that they can relate to such as their own house, and the village of West Bretton and extends further afield to other parts of the world as they progress.

Our children are engaged in these subjects through enquiry-based learning and inspirational teaching ideas and stimulus such as introductory ‘Hook days’, trips and visiting speakers.  We instil the fundamental curriculum objectives of history and geography into our children through a dynamic, practical approach.  Lessons are driven by key questions that have been generated by the children and this sparks their interest. Each topic can include a truly motivating day of dressing up and getting involved in numerous workshops based on their particular topic theme that term. For example, in a recent ‘Journeys topic’, the classroom had been converted into an aeroplane, with children having their own passports. In other topics, food and materials have been used to involve the children in hands on experiences. Where possible, trips, visits and guest speakers are used to bring topics to life and allow for questioning skills to be developed.  Pre-Covid each class would choose one topic a year that was then shared with parents at a special parents’ assembly; something we are excited to begin again.

As West Bretton is one of the oldest schools in Wakefield, much time is spent looking through our primary resources to gain an understanding about life in the past. Close links have been made with local farms and the National Mining Museum in order to give pupils a greater understanding of this. Bi-annual ‘Farmers’ Days’ and visits to the National Coal Mining Museum are all part of our West Bretton Passport in order to inspire our children’s cultural capital.

The History and Geography progression of skills documents below show how we extend our learning throughout a pupil’s time at West Bretton.


Impact

Through studying history and geography, our children will gain an understanding of how the past has affected the present and that their actions as global citizens will affect the future.

As historians, West Bretton pupils will be able to talk confidently about events, people and places from the past and present and represent their learning in a variety of ways. They will understand, and be able to explain (using key vocabulary) how and why these important historical features compare, contrast and impact upon how we live today. Our children will leave West Bretton with the ability to investigate, question and analyse different sources and information.

As geographers, our pupils will be confident at locating places using a range of maps, globes, atlases and digital media. The children will be able to:

  • Compare and contrast many different aspects of geographical similarities and differences
  • Have a deep understanding of human activity in the world, both positive and negative
  • Carry out fieldwork, building on prior skills and analyse any gathered data
  • Describe a location using correct geographical vocabulary.

Key Learning and Skills in History
Download our KS1 2-Year Humanities Overview
Download our LKS2 2-Year Humanities Overview
Download our UKS2 2-Year Humanities Overview
Resources

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Wednesday 10 August 2022