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History Skills in the Middle School

Chronology NC Subject Content Examples

Pupils demonstrate their chronological awareness by making links and connections between historical events and changes in the different periods and areas studied. They recognise and make appropriate use of dates, vocabulary and conventions that describe historical periods and the passing of time. Pupils learn about change and continuity, progress and regression, in the economy, society, culture and political structures from the early Middle Ages to the twentieth century.

1a, 2de





Timelines, comparative exercises (then and now, similarity and difference), sequencing events, spot the anachronism, turning points.

e.g. Performing an empathetic account of life in medieval Europe with a prescribed number of anachronisms and/or chronological errors to be included.

Empathy NC Subject Content Examples
The central Historical skill.  Stepping into the shoes of people in the past. Pupils describe and explain the relationships between the characteristic features of specified periods and societies including the experiences and range of ideas, beliefs and attitudes of people in the past.

Read a defence of empathy in the history classroom by Raphael Samuel or a more a basic definition by Audrey Hepburn.





Role-play and drama, letter writing and diaries, decision making exercises and counterfactual history (what if? History)

e.g. Year 8 role-play activity as merchant in London c1600

e.g Year 9 role-play activity on debating the question of child labour in the 19th century

Cause and Consequence NC Subject Content Examples
Pupils describe, analyse and explain reasons for, and results of, the historical events, situations and changes in the periods studied. This will involve categorisation of causes and consequences and an evaluation of the significance of these factors.








Identifying categories of cause and consequence, i.e. Short term / long term and Political, Economic, Social and Cultural. Identifying and explaining most important causes and consequences.

e.g. Year 9 write an essay on the causes of the French Revolution using discrete paragraphs for different types of causes.
Philosophy NC Subject Content Examples

The theoretical (or bird’s eye) methodology. Understanding the difference between ‘the past and history’ and working towards an appreciation of the epistemological fragility of history. Pupils develop their understanding of how and why some historical events, people, situations and changes have been interpreted differently and evaluate these interpretations.  Pupils construct their own narratives, descriptions and explanations of historical events and developments.








Comparing different media that make common claims to represent the past eg. Museum guide and school text. Distinguishing myth and fiction from truth and reality. Pupils begin to recognise that the truth is an elusive concept.

e.g. A role-play debate on London in c1600: beauty and differences in historical interpretation are in the eye of the beholder.

e.g. The Spanish Armada. Year 8 paired work. Each writes a newspaper front page explaining the Spanish defeat. One from the Spanish perspective, one from the English. Bias without lying.

Analysis NC Subject Content Examples
The empirical (or worm’s eye) methodology. Pupils use their historical knowledge to evaluate and use sources of information, identifying and explaining the different ways in which the past is represented. They carry out enquiries into aspects of the areas of study from a range of appropriate sources of information including oral accounts, documents, printed sources, the media, artefacts, pictures, photographs, music and using the resources of museums, buildings and sites, and ICT. 4ab






Evaluation of sources, usefulness and reliability. Pupils identify appropriate sources for carrying out an enquiry into an aspect of the past, evaluate the sources in their historical context, collect and record information relevant to the enquiry and reach conclusions.

e.g. Year 8 have a close look at the evidence used to convict Guy Fawkes of treason. 

e.g Year 9 investigate why it is difficult to find out about child labour in the 19th century.

Communication NC Subject Content Examples
Students learn to recall, prioritise and select historical information; to organise historical information by the accurate selection and use of chronological conventions and historical vocabulary appropriate to the periods studied; to communicate their knowledge and understanding of history, using a range of techniques, including spoken language, structured narratives and substantiated explanations.  5abc






Pupils demonstrate competence in the other five skills applied within an appropriate historical framework.  They learn the facts of the past and how to use the relevant academic apparatus of the historian.  An opinion must always be supported by clearly annotated evidence.

e.g. Year 7 students write a research essay on the reasons for the success of the Norman conquest of England

e.g. Year 8 students design explanatory booklets for Year 5 pupils about the Reformation.

e.g. Year 9 students build a website to explain the success of the 19th century textile mill, Quarry Bank Mill