primary history (3)
Catherine Bickersteth

Key Contact

Catherine Bickersteth
NASBTT Associate Consultant
Primary History

Email: primaryhistory@nasbtt.org.uk

Latest News

The story behind the great British pantomime – Primary History

A seasonal topic – an insight into the history of the uniquely British phenomenon of the pantomime.  Find out more on The Historic England Blog  

The story of Martini Maccomo, a black lion tamer in Sunderland – Primary History

From the 1850s onwards, it became fashionable in travelling menageries to have Black and Asian lion tamers and handlers. Maccomo was recruited by William Manders, the owner of Mander’s ‘Grand…

Disability History Month

The Historical Association has brought together a page of resources to support teaching during Disability History month from 16 November to 16 December.

Subject Resources

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. 




The British Library online resources

The British Library Online Resources includes a rich range of resources on topics including; Magna Carta, Voices of Partition, Playtimes, South Asians in Britain, Votes for Women and many more.


Historic England resources for the primary classroom

Resources such as PowerPoint presentations, worksheets and notes for teachers to download and use in the classroom. There is also a  ‘Timelines and Teacher’s Kits’ which are useful for developing teaching of chronology.


Heritage England

has developed an interactive timeline for use in schools which can be downloaded here:


Schools History Project (SHP)

The Schools History Project campaigns for a school curriculum in which the distinctive contribution of history to the education of children and young people is recognised and developed. Their website has CPD resources from previous SHP conferences as well as practical resources to help develop your subject knowledge and provide support foreplanning history enquiries in schools.


Windrush75

2023 marks the 75th anniversary of the HMT Empire Windrush ship arrival in the UK. This will be an opportunity to plan history teaching in schools which includes this history and its legacy.


The National Archives

There are several free online workshops available for teachers via the National Archives.


Teaching history with 100 objects

is the result of a partnership between museums across the UK and the British Museum. It has been funded by the Department for Education to help equip teachers to teach the new national history curriculum in England through the provision of high quality resources, up to date subject expertise and stimulating teaching ideas. However, its potential extends beyond England to teachers of history throughout the country and internationally.

Teaching history with 100 objects consists of 100 resources based on objects selected from museums in England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales and from the British Museum. These Object Files may be used individually to support and enhance teachers’ current practice or can be combined to provide object-based units of study for a historical period, culture or theme.


African Kingdoms 

African Kingdoms is a one-stop website with a suite of resources for teachers planning to teach West African history. It is aimed at British teachers from Key Stage 2 through to Key Stage 5, but many of the materials will also be of use to teachers from other countries teaching these topics even according to different syllabi.


London Transport Museum

London Transport Museum has many resources for schools to use, which could be used for teaching the history of transport, comparing people’s lives at different times, the story of migration from the Caribbean to London, local history and there are several virtual school workshops available, as well as on site workshops. 


Migration Museum

The Migration Museum in London has a vast resource bank online for teachers, in additon to on –site education workshops and exhibitions for those who can visit in person.


Transition from primary to year 7: Historical Association sample unit

This focuses on a sample depth study on the Vikings written with accompanying resources and drawn from the  national curriculum for history at Key Stage 2 under the bullet point:" the Viking and Anglo-Saxon struggle for the kingdom of England to the time of Edward the Confessor." It provides a model for how to plan other transition units. 


History Today

History Today Website and Magazine.


The British Museum

The British Museum a rich source of historical sources, education resources and CPD is accessible from the British Museum.


The National Holocaust Centre and Museum

Visit the website here.


The Jewish Museum

Visit the website here.


The Black, Asian and Minority Educators Network

Visit the website here.


Greater Manchester Transport Timeline

This is a useful timeline based resource for an enquiry on transport


The Imperial War Museum

Visit the website here.


BBC resources:


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 organsistions to access when planning and researching local history topics.

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

History education and history as a discipline:

  • E H Carr - What is History?
  • Cooper, H (ed) - Teaching History Creatively (2017)
  • 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  
  • 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:

  • 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.

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

Here is a selection of resources which are useful for developing history curricula, teaching and learning and teacher subject knowledge.


Disability in History


LGBTQ+

  • 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. 
  • 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.
  • The Harwich Kindertransport Memorial & Learning Trust

A selection of book lists for children from Early Years to Year 7, which include lists themed by historical topics including women in history, Windrush history and World Wars 1 and 2. This has been collated by the Centre for Literacy in Primary Education (CLPE)

Two videos presented by Julia Letts, Oral History Society, firstly providing an introduction to oral history in schools and secondly practical guidance for planning an oral history project in school.

Part 1: Using oral history in the classroom

Part 2: Setting up an oral history project


David Olusago talks about how black British history could be included in school curricula.


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


2023 is the  year of the 75th anniversary of the arrival HMT Empire Windrush to the UK, in this video David Olusago talks about the history and significance of this.

Windrush 'one of the great success stories of Britain'


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)


Dr Abby Reisman talks about the discourse around how students learn and her research around history enquiry in the classroom. The talk looks at ways to approach about history educator mentoring and coaching.

Dr. Abby Reisman ‘Identifying and developing  pedagodies and practice’.


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.

(54mins)

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.


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


Primary History Misconceptions

In this video you will learn about the common misconceptions in history, understand how to help children understand historical enquiry concepts and consider the types of historical sources available and how they can be used in devising enquiry questions.

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.


Centre for Holocaust Education: a collection of CPD podcasts are available including:

  • Confronting Controversial History: The Holocaust
  • Podcast 1: Survivors a conversation between Dr Rebecca Clifford of Swansea University and the Centre for Holocaust Education about her recent ground-breaking book ‘Survivors: Children’s Lives After the Holocaust.’

Podcasts – Centre for Holocaust Education


Historic Royal Palaces Stories of the historic palaces six palaces.

Experts and the people who bring the palaces to life, tell stories about monarchs the lives and histories of the people not always documented in history.

The podcast is a mix of previously recorded live talks, new discussions and discoveries.

Historic Royal Palaces podcasts


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.  


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’.

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


Collins series of primary history books.  These provide suggested lesson ideas, and are a useful way for trainee teachers and ECTs to build their subject knowledge. 

KS1 & KS2 books for children: 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)

Diver’s Daughter: A Tudor Story (2019) Patrice Lawrence (Scholastic)


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

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.
  • Meet the Ancient Romans - James Davies (2021 Templar Publishing). The artwork and infographics provide an engaging book for young readers.
  • Timelines from Black History: Leaders, Legends, Legacies (Dorling Kindersley Ltd  2020).
  • Great Britons: 50 Amazing People Who Have Called Britain Home Imogen Russell Williams (Author)  Sara Mulvanny (Illustrator) (Nosy Crow Ltd 2021).
  • This website has updates of non-fiction history books published for primary school age children and is a useful place to search for newly published titles: Non Fiction History books for Primary Schools

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