What is on the History National Curriculum for KS1?

All schools in the UK must follow the national curriculum for all subjects. Here, we’ll be focusing on the history curriculum for KS1.

The national curriculum sets out standards and requirements for all UK pupils to attain to be educated and functioning citizens. It also ensures consistency across schools to help create coherence in what is covered in lessons and helps children access core knowledge and disciplines considered essential. 

So, what is on the KS1 history national curriculum? Here, we break down what teachers are expected to cover in history topics at KS1. 


Aims and Objectives of Learning about History

The purpose of studying history from KS1 is to allow pupils to familiarise themselves with Britain's history and how it came into modern-day existence. Through learning what’s on the history national curriculum in KS1, students should develop critical thinking, collect evidence, weigh up arguments, and form their own judgements based on perspectives. 

Learning about the past will also help students understand history in a broader context, including the history of other countries and cultures, how it affects them personally, and why it is important to be aware of and preserve the history of others.

Understanding social diversity, historical and cultural identity, changes and developments over time, and how these impact the pupils themselves, and others is vital to helping children become tolerant and understanding citizens in society.

The specific targets that the history national curriculum for KS1 sets out are thus: 

  • Know and understand the history of these islands as a coherent, chronological narrative, from the earliest times to the present day: how people’s lives have shaped this nation and how Britain has influenced and been influenced by the wider world.
  • Know and understand significant aspects of the history of the wider world: the nature of ancient civilisations; the expansion and dissolution of empires; characteristic features of past non-European societies; achievements and follies of mankind.
  • Gain and deploy a historically grounded understanding of abstract terms such as ‘empire’, ‘civilisation’, ‘parliament’ and ‘peasantry’.
  • Understand historical concepts such as continuity and change, cause and consequence, similarity, difference and significance, and use them to make connections, draw contrasts, analyse trends, frame historically-valid questions and create their own structured accounts, including written narratives and analyses.
  • Understand the methods of historical enquiry, including how evidence is used rigorously to make historical claims, and discern how and why contrasting arguments and interpretations of the past have been constructed.
  • Gain historical perspective by placing their growing knowledge into different contexts, understanding the connections between local, regional, national and international history; between cultural, economic, military, political, religious and social history; and between short- and long-term timescales.

  • By teaching the national history curriculum at KS1 and beyond, we aim to inspire curiosity in children about the past, present, and future. 


    Aims and Objectives of History National Curriculum KS1

    According to the history national curriculum, pupils in KS1 should:

    • Use a wide vocabulary of everyday historical terms, including phrases that describe the passing of time and the past.
    • Understand how events and people fit in a chronological frame of time passing.
    • Understand similarities and differences between different historical periods.
    • Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of historical events and aspects by referring to sources and stories when asking and answering questions.
    • Understand some ways we learn about the past and ways it is represented.

      A Summary of the History National Curriculum KS1

      Here are the requirements of the history national curriculum KS1 and some examples of topics to explore.

    • Changes within living memory. Where appropriate, these should be used to reveal aspects of change in national life.
    • Examples:

      • Look at different types of transport. What were the first types of transportation for humans? Develop a timeline of different modes of transport, from horses to the wheel to complex machines like trains and even space travel.

      Take a look at our Brunel Poster & Teachers Guide for support in teaching about transport history. Our Technology Through the Ages Timeline is a great prop to visually demonstrate how technology has developed over time in a similar way. 

      • Compare a day in the life of someone in the modern day and someone in a different time period. What would their clothes be like? What job would they have? What would their hobbies be?

      A visual aid like our Victorian Life Poster Pack pk 8 includes flashcards that help stimulate kids’ imaginations about what life in the past would be like compared with what they know about the modern day.

      Discover what familiar things looked like at different times in history. Try to offer first-hand examples that children will already understand, like toys, food, or household objects. 

      Check out our Toys Through the Ages Photopack pk 20 and Homes Through the Ages visual timelines as excellent teaching aids for activities like this.

      2. Events beyond living memory that are significant nationally or globally [for example, the Great Fire of London, the first aeroplane flight or events commemorated through festivals or anniversaries] 



      • Explore the Great Fire of London. What was the cause, and what was the impact? How could it have been prevented, and what safety measures were implemented afterwards? How has it affected our fire safety precautions today? 
      • Why do we celebrate Fireworks Night every year? What was the gunpowder plot? Why did Guy Fawkes want to blow up the Houses of Parliament? 
      • What was the Black Death? What did the plague do to people, and how did it impact civilisation? Where did it come from? What have we learned since then about medicine and hygiene to prevent a similar plague from happening?

      Our Plot, Plague & Fire Friezes neatly covers all these with images, notes, and historical context that is easy to digest. 

      3. The lives of significant individuals in the past who have contributed to national and international achievements. Some should be used to compare aspects of life in different periods [for example, Elizabeth I and Queen Victoria, Christopher Columbus and Neil Armstrong, William Caxton and Tim Berners-Lee, Pieter Bruegel the Elder and LS Lowry, Rosa Parks and Emily Davison, Mary Seacole and/or Florence Nightingale and Edith Cavell]



      Choose one or several famous historical figures to look at in more depth. Help the students learn about their lives and understand their impact on the world. How has the world been changed for the good because of them, and what evidence exists today of their impact? Take a look at our KS1 history teaching resources for inspiration and examples.

      1. Significant historical events, people and places in their own locality.


      Arranging a school field trip to a place of historical importance nearby would be a stimulating way to immerse your students in learning about its history. 

      Teachers of the history national curriculum KS1 will start to broach topics that students will learn in greater depth in KS2 and KS3. 

      Read the History National Curriculum KS1 Programmes of Study document for complete information on what needs to be covered. You can also find documents on the general study of history in the National Curriculum

      Classroom resources

      Leave a comment

      All comments are moderated before being published