Primary History

Key Contact

Catherine Bickersteth
NASBTT Associate Consultant
Primary History


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Welcome to the Primary History resource area. This space provides resources for those involved in delivering initial teacher education. This includes links to Subject Associations, links to resources for teaching history, debates within history and for widening subject knowledge. This area will be updated regularly.

Please get in touch via the email address above if you are seeking information which is not listed, and I will do my best to point you in the direction of what you need.

'"What is history?"…an unending dialogue between the present and the past.'
EH Carr

'The most effective way to destroy people is to deny and obliterate their own understanding of their history.'
George Orwell

History teachers need to ask themselves these questions: 

  1. What is the rationale behind the history curriculum?
  2. How best to teach history?
  3. Does our history curriculum reflect the diverse pasts of all people in society?
  4. Whose voices are heard in the history we teach ?

School, or individual, membership of the Historical Association is strongly recommended. It provides a wealth of resources, CPD and articles based on research, in the magazine Primary History, which is included in a primary school or individual membership. 

History Association Film: Making the most of your primary membership

If your department is a member of the Historical Association, then please remember that they provide many resources to help with the mentoring of ITT students.

BBC resources:

  • The Cornerstones website has a magazine regularly published. This edition has an article on the history curriculum.

  • Local History - Local history is a really good starting point for broader themes in a school history curriculum. Finding individual stories that engage children and open up an enquiry question makes a big difference to drawing children into history actively. This website has a huge bank of useful websites and organisations to access when planning and researching local history topics.

Some resources on local history which has templates which could be adapted for other areas.

Recommended books for this half -term:


KS1 & KS2 books for children:

Topic: the Stone Age

  • The Secrets of Stonehenge (2014)  Mick Manning  (Author), Brita Granström (Illustrator)
  • The First Drawing  Mordicai Gerstein      (Little Brown) - This  picture book transports the reader to a cave in France to explore cave paintings and when the first one might have been made.
  • Stone Age Boy   (2008)  Satoshi Kitamura  (Author, Illustrator)

History education and history as a discipline:

  • E H Carr - What is History?
  • Suzannah Lipscomb , Helen Carr - What Is History, Now?  2021 Weidenfeld & Nicolson
  • Richard Evans - In Defence of History
  • Davies, I. (ed.) (2017) - Debates in History Teaching, Oxford: Routledge
  • Edited by Arthur Chapman (2021) - Knowing History in Schools (UCL Press) - Free to download
  • Doull , K, Russell ,C, Hales, A  (2019) Mastering Primary History (Mastering Primary Teaching)  Bloomsbury Academic
  • Harris, R., Burn, K. & Woolley, M. (2014) - The Guided Reader to Teaching and Learning History, Abingdon: Routledge.
  • James William Percival (2017) - Investigating Narrative Forms Of History Pedagogy In Primary Initial Teacher Education In England Oxford Brookes University, Oxford, United Kingdom
  • International Journal of Historical Learning, Teaching and Research [IJHLTR], Volume 15, Number 1 - Autumn/Winter 2017
  • Husbands, C. (1996) - What is History Teaching? Language, ideas and meaning in learning about the past, Milton Keynes: Open University Press.
  • Christine Counsell (2021) History pp. 154-173 (20 pages) from the book - 'What Should Schools Teach?: Disciplines, subjects and the pursuit of truth' Alka Sehgal Cuthbert, Alex Standish. 2021 UCL Press
  • James Percival - Understanding and Teaching Primary History    
  • History Through Stories: Teaching Primary History with Storytelling - (Storytelling School Series) July 2016 by Chris Smith (Author), Adam Guillain (Author), Nanette Noonan (Author)
  • Victoria Crooks - Blog From caveman to concepts: Making history count in the primary classroom
  • Decolonising the History Curriculum Euro-centrism and Primary Schooling - Marlon Lee Moncrieffe - 2020  Palgrave Macmillan

SEND and teaching history

Subject knowledge:

  • Oak National Academy - the Teacher  Hub has a series of resources that can be useful for trainee teachers developing subject knowledge. The subjects are organised following the NC programme of study: Key stage 1 and Key stage 2.
  • The Historical Association website has a list of suggested reading for teachers to build their subject knowledge. This is aimed at secondary curriculum, but has some useful reading for primary teachers who are seeking to fill in gaps in their historical knowledge. This is accessible without being a member of the Historical Association.
  • Resources from the Runnymede Trust, 'History Lessons: Making British Histories a Guide for Teachers.'
  • English Heritage has a range of resources which support teaching and learning and building subject knowledge.
  • 'Building a strong KS2 history curriculum'  Christine Counsell (29 September 2020)  Useful overview of shaping enquiry questions,  including an example of medium-term planning for work about al-Mansur and the city of Baghdad.

The National Archives:

  • There are several free online workshops available for teachers via the National Archives. This is a selection chosen, but the website has others related to specific areas of history and to help develop subject knowledge.
    Making History: Using Archives in the Classroom - E-CPD - By National Archives. Web Editor: Simon Brown, published 11th January 2011 - In this E-CPD unit, The National Archives shares their expertise in using archival material in the history classroom, offering practical examples for activities. They lead you through the process of finding material, selecting interesting documents, identifying an enquiry and devising a creative final task. A section on educational research guides you in targeting students' misconceptions through enquiries to help them make secure progress. They also show you how to work with archives in your area to develop a local history unit. This resource is FREE to all registered users of the HA website. If you are not already registered you can sign up for FREE Basic Website Access or Join the HA to access this content.
  • For KS2, a one hour online workshop (free) considering 'How do historians know what to believe?' This session gives pupils the opportunity to work with a range of primary documents selected around a specific theme. Pupils will gain an understanding of how different types of sources can be used to find out about the past, and how historians can use these sources as evidence. This session supports schools focusing on a thematic study in British history (beyond 1066).
  • KS1 45min online workshop - How can we know what happened back in 1666?This session introduces pupils to The National Archives and to some of the famous documents connected with the Great Fire of London. Pupils are introduced to primary source material as they investigate what happened in 1666 and develop their skills of historical enquiry.


  • "History in outstanding primary schools" has been published on the Ofsted blog: schools, early years, further education and skills blog. Tim Jenner HMI, Ofsted's subject lead for history, talks about the findings from our history subject inspections.

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in History:

General Research

  • Runnymede's History Lessons project report (2015) identifies a number of recommendations requiring both policy and research intervention, including 
  • Creating a history curriculum that is truly 'national';
  • Re-imagining British history and identity to recognise the central role of diverse communities in its formation;
  • The importance of mainstreaming diversity;
  • Making diversity training compulsory for teachers;
  • Recruiting a diverse history teaching workforce.
  • 'Historiana' is an online resource for educators that offers a variety of material to teach inclusive history and citizenship. It provides free historical content, ready-to-use learning activities, and innovative digital tools developed by a team of history educators from across Europe and beyond.

Here is a selection of resources which are useful for developing subject knowledge in different areas of including all voices in history curricula.

The Global Majority, diversification and decolonisation

Disability in History


  • LGBT+ History Month aims to put LGBTQI+ people back into history by showing how they have always been present in society and have been vital contributors to human progress.It  promotes equality and diversity in the UK,  raises awareness and educates the wider population. During February 2022, the theme for LGBT+ History month will be Politics In Art. 
  • KS2 lesson resources - Anne Lister

Holocaust and Genocide Education

  • Holocaust Educational Trust: A Guide for Primary School Teachers is designed to support the growing number of primary schools which wish to explore issues related to the Holocaust with their students. It is the first comprehensive guide of its kind and will be invaluable to teachers looking to address this subject in a sensitive and meaningful way. Our online training sessions are open to primary and secondary school teachers and trainees.
  • Holocaust Education - Contemporary challenges and controversies - Edited by Stuart Foster, Andy Pearce, and Alice Pettigrew This is available to download free.
  • Michael Rosen - The Missing. This collection of poems, diary entries, archive records, and narrative presents the personal story of Michael Rosen's quest to trace his family history. It provides an account of what happened to Jewish families in the Holocaust. A suitable  resource for KS2 classes learning about WW2. 
  • Teaching the Holocaust: Innovative Approaches to the Challenges We Face UCL Future Learn free course. Explore history, delve into pedagogical challenges revealed by research, and find practical solutions for teaching the Holocaust.
  • The Jewish Museum, London offers CPD and resources for schools.

General Pedagogy:

  • Rosenshine's Principles in Action  (2019)  -  Tom Sherrington
  • The Learning Rainforest Great Teaching in Real Classrooms (2017) - Tom Sherrington
  • When the Adults Change Everything Changes (2017) - Paul Dix

David Olusoga delivers the Migration Museum Annual Lecture 2018: 'The Perils of Our Insular Illusion'

Mary Beard and David Olusoga on History, Memory and Change July 2020:

English Heritage videos on teaching prehistory

Teacher's TV: KS2 History- chronology workshop

Tim Jenner, HMI, Schools and Subject Lead for History, talks about the knowledge of substantive concepts and chronological knowledge. (Sep 2021) (25mins)

Teaching Inclusive Histories CPD Resources from Royal Museums Greenwich, 04/11/21

The Teaching Inclusive Histories event aims to highlight the work that both primary and secondary school teachers and museum professionals are doing to ensure that history lessons, workshops and resources for school pupils are inclusive and make meaningful connections with the lives of young people today. 

Watch a video of the keynote presentation from Robin Whitburn and Abdul Mohamud (Justice to History).

EuroClio European Associaton of History Educators

In the first keynote lecture of the webinar series on "Teachers as Researchers", Marjan de Groot Reuvekamp introduces the results of her research on Effective Teaching Approaches for History in Primary School.

Museum of London

What is archaeology and what can it tell us about London's past? Discover how archaeologists use artefacts as clues to reveal fascinating stories from London's past. This film was designed for primary school children to prepare for a visit to the Museum of London Archaeological Archive. This is useful for teachers in explaining how archaeologists investigate the past.

(2mins 38)

BeBold History Network@BeBoldHistory

 is a network which has free CPD for the history teaching community. There is a huge range of videos and webinars available via their You Tube Channel. Below are links to two videos. A lot of these are aimed at secondary school teachers, but there are several which help primary practitioners think about approaches to history and to expand subject knowledge for particular topics.

This is a good introduction to thinking about the broad question of teaching about Empire.

12/05/20, Prof. Jon Wilson presented his case for abandoning the 'balance sheet' approach to teaching the British Empire when teaching history.

#BeBoldHistory's Harriet Cornwell meets with Luke Pepera, writer, broadcaster and storyteller, to discuss Mansa Musa and African kingdoms.


Find our blog about using subject specific CPD in the classroom here

Videos about Individuals in history

Noor Inayat Khan video

Walter Tull: A  scheme of work is available from the Walter Tull website. There is also a video about his life.

Famous Muslim Scientists in the World During 722 to 1406:

Miranda Kaufmann talking about three of the Tudors she researched for her book "Black Tudors".

Deepening the Primary History Curriculum

These events are the perfect opportunity for Teacher Educators to focus on specific subjects.

Session Overview/Focus:

  • To be aware of  the resources available for history educators.
  • To have an understanding of diversity and decolonisation in the primary history curriculum.
  • To consider how historical enquiry can be used in the KS1 and KS2.

Expected Learning Outcomes

  • A deeper understanding of the national curriculum requirements.

Watch the recording here

PowerPoint presentation

Historical Association has a vast range of podcasts available, curated by period of history.

Over 350 high-quality podcast talks by history experts across a wide range of historical periods, regions and themes.

All podcasts are free to HA members. Non-members can listen to the first track of each podcast for free.

The Curriculum - Cornerstones Education Podcast (Captivate) with short episodes covering a range of subjects for teachers.

Episode 14 • 02/02/18  The importance of History in the primary curriculum

The Curriculum explores the place and importance of history in the primary curriculum, with host Melanie Moore talking to Al Ritchie, primary teacher, history specialist and Cornerstones consultant. Issues explored include the importance of history, how to teach chronology and overcoming barriers to teacher expertise.

The Primary History Podcast   (Apple) Christopher Russell  Short podcasts on different aspects of teaching history. 

Primary Sources: Conversations with History Makers.  (Apple) Episode 1 - Greg Jenner - Have a browse to hear interviews with other history experts. 

Homeschool History  (Apple) Greg Jenner - Aimed at children learning at home, but is useful to gather subject knowledge. 

The Rest is History (Apple) Each episode focuses on a specific event, theme or  issue, with a guests from a range of backgrounds. (30 - 60 mins) 

Past Times- Talking and Teaching History - A range of discussions featuring historians and academics on matters relevant for history educators.

Early Years Foundation Stage Statutory Framework

Early years foundation stage (EYFS) statutory framework from September 2021

History programmes of study: Key Stages 1 and 2

National curriculum in England:

These are the statutory programmes of study and attainment targets for history at key stages 1 to 3. They are issued by law; you must follow them unless there's a good reason not to.

All local-authority-maintained schools should teach them.

Schools are not required by law to teach the example content in [square brackets] or the content indicated as being 'non-statutory'.

The Dfe document 'Teaching a broad and balanced curriculum for education recovery'(June 2021). pp21-22 history

A Summary of Ofsted's History Report for Primary Teachers and Leaders.

Historical fiction

Primary history can be complemented by quality historical fiction.

The need for children's literature to reflect the reality of who we all are is detailed in CLPE's annual survey into ethnic representation within UK children's literature. Historical fiction is a valuable part of the resources that may be used in schools, but when selecting fiction, educators should question the texts that are chosenand how they are used. The CLPE 's Reflecting Realities reports can be accessed on their website. A list of some children's historical fiction is listed below along with some links to some historical  fiction book lists and titles.

CLPE's Reflecting Realities - Survey of Ethnic Representation within UK Children's Literature

Article on historical fiction for children and diversity

A selection of historical fiction:

Voices Series:

  • Now or Never: A Dunkirk Story - Bali Rai
  • Diver's Daughter: A Tudor Story - Patrice Lawrence
  • Son of the Circus: A Victorian Story - E.L.Norry
  • Empire's End - A Roman Story - Leila Rasheed
  • Windrush Child - Benjamin Zephaniah
  • Two Sisters: A Story of Freedom - Kereen Getten
  • The Wheel of Surya - Jamila Gavin

Primary Books to delve into History - Carey Fluker Hunt

Non-fiction for children

  • The Bristol Bus Boycott: a fight for racial justice (Collins Big Cat, 2022) This is a book about the Bristol Bus Boycott of 1963, which is useful for history topics in both KS1 and KS2.
  • Idia of the Benin Kingdom (Our Ancestories, 2020) Great for the topic of Benin at KS2, but is a good  book for KS1 too.
  • The Undefeated    Kwame Alexander, illus. Kadir Nelson (Andersen Press) This book includes a range of individuals, significant in a range of fields.
  • Women in the Skies Charlotte Coleman-Smith (Collins Big Cat, 2017) This includes the story of individual women with content about women's contributions to aviation history and WW2.

The views expressed in any links, documents or social accounts in these resources belong to the content creators and not NASBTT, its affiliates, or employees.

Join the Primary History Facebook Group which offers a safe, moderated space for subject specific discussions, the sharing of good practice and signposting to relevant research, resources, articles, blogs and professional learning opportunities. Please complete the questions to join the group, these are to ensure only relevant, registered individuals are admitted.