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  • Culture and Identity

    Throughout their time at St. Martin’s, the children will learn about the different beliefs, values and practices in the past, both in this country and further afield.  They will be encouraged to engage with the past with empathy and appreciate the circumstances people living in the past faced and the motivations, values and attitudes behind their actions.  They will also learn that people’s experiences in the past were not homogeneous, and they will consider the relationship between people’s identities and their experiences.  They will particularly consider changing beliefs about the roles of men and women and changing attitudes towards race.  The children will encounter some people from the past who, by the standards of their time, had unusual and unexpected ideas and attitudes, which can prompt students to think deeply about those ‘strange’ ideas, and also – by comparison and contrast – about the assumptions of their own society today.

  • Power and Legitimacy

    While studying History at St. Martin’s, the children will find out about the different ways that people and groups obtain and power throughout History and how they justify their claims to have authority over others.  They learn about the visual signs of power used to impress or control.  They examine the idea of kingship and explore the responsibilities that come with it.  They learn about different ways of legitimising kingship, including hereditary kingship and dynasties, beliefs in the divine rights of kingship and possibility of winning the crown through military or political power, and study examples of uprisings where people have tried to overthrow their leaders.  They also explore different political systems, including democracy and oligarchy and learn about the changing relationship between the Church, the monarchy and parliament in England during medieval times.  They learn about social and political changes in more recent times which have resulted in the expansion of franchise. 

  • Civilisation

    While at St. Martin’s, the children will learn about a range of Ancient Civilisations in their History lessons.  They will begin to understand a civilisation as a sophisticated society where people live together in cities.  They will think about some of the conditions that would have been necessary for people to be able to come together in cities – the importance of having access to fertile land for agriculture and writing to run an administrative system, for example.  They will learn about the achievements of non-European civilisations and consider the impact of Ancient Greek ideas in the wider world. 

  • Empire

    Children will also learn that an Empire is when one country, state or ruler controls land outside its borders, taking advantage of the resources and the people who live there.  They will study the way that Empire affects the indigenous population.  They will specifically learn the reasons for the rise and fall of the Roman Empire, and they will find out about the power vacuum that was created in Britain by the fall of the Roman Empire.  They also learn about the British Empire, contrasting its rise with that of the Roman Empire, and its impact on different people living in Britain and further afield, and particularly about the role of slavery as a source of wealth. 

  • Invasion and Conflict

    During their History studies at St. Martin’s, the children will encounter the themes of invasion and conflict in a variety of contexts.  They will find out some of the motiving factors for invasion: access to land, access to trade or perceived injustice and they will learn about some of the factors which contribute to success: increased numbers (sometimes through allies), better organisation, superior technology.  They will also learn about the defensive actions that leaders take, such as building defence systems, developing alliances and negotiating peace treaties. 

    The children will consider the social and political implications of invasion and warfare, such as the importance of gaining public support.  They find out about examples where open warfare has been avoided, such as in the Space Race or the Danelaw. 

    Finally, the children will also find out about conflict within societies and how conflict can lead to change, for example the Civil Rights Movement in the USA.

Reception, Year 1 and Year 2

In Reception, Year 1 and Year 2 the children follow a rolling programme.  This means that the children have a wide range of experiences and allows them to revisit key historical ideas in different contexts.  During their first three years at school, all children study the following at least once:

  • a thematic unit to learn about changes over time
  • significant events within living memory
  • significant historical events in the local area
  • events beyond living memory which are significant nationally or globally
  • a comparative study of two significant individuals in the same field
  Autumn Term Spring or Summer Term

Lima Class

(Reception/ Year 1)

Year A

Houses And Homes

  1. What is my home like?
  2. What were my parents’ and grandparents’ homes like when they were small?
  3. Who was Queen Victoria?
  4. How did Victorians cook and heat their homes?
  5. How did Victorians keep clean?
  6. Did rich and poor Victorians live in the same types of houses?

Reading Abbey

  1. Who built Reading Abbey and why?
  2. What did the Abbey look like?
  3. What was it like to live in the Abbey?
  4. Why did the Abbey close?
  5. What happened to the Abbey after it closed?
  6. What can we learn from visiting the Abbey today?

Lima Class

(Reception/ Year 1)

Year B


  1. What is my favourite toy like?
  2. What were my parents' and grandparents' toys like when they were small?
  3. Who was Queen Victoria?
  4. What toys and games did Victorian children play?
  5. How were the toys of rich and poor Victorians different?
  6. How much free time did Victorian children have?


  1. Who were Huntley and Palmer and why did they build a factory? 
  2. Who worked in the Huntley and Palmer factory and what jobs did they do?
  3. Was Huntley and Palmer a good place to work?
  4. How did Huntley and Palmer transport their biscuits?    
  5. What can we learn from Huntley and Palmer biscuit tins? 
  6. Why were Huntley and Palmer so important in Reading?

Rose Class

(Year 1/ 2)

Year A


  1. Who was Ibn Battuta and why did he travel?
  2. What were Ibn Battuta's journeys like?
  3. Who was Christopher Columbus and why did he travel?
  4. What was Christopher Columbus’ journey like?
  5. How did Christopher Columbus’ journeys change the world?
  6. What are some similarities and differences between Ibn Battuta and Christopher Columbus?


The Great Fire of London

  1. Who lived in Britain at the time of the Great Fire of London and what was life like for them?
  2. What was the Great Fire of London?
  3. How do we know about the Great Fire of London?
  4. Why did the fire spread so quickly?
  5. How did people try to put out the great fire of London? 
  6. What happened after the Great Fire of London?

Rose Class

(Year 1/ 2)

Year B

Walter Tull

  1. Who was Walter Tull and when did he live?
  2. Did Walter have a happy or terrible childhood?
  3. Using historical sources, can we spot the differences between Walter’s life and the lives of footballers today?
  4. What was it like for Walter when he played football at a match in Bristol?
  5. How did Walter help our country during WWI?
  6. What is special about Walter Tull and Nicola Adams?


  1. Why did William the Conqueror build castles? 
  2. What does a castle look like?
  3. How did people attack and defend castles?
  4. What jobs did people do in a castle?
  5. How do we know about William the Conqueror?
  6. What can we learn from visiting a castle?


Year 3

In Year 3, there is a strong emphasis on civilisation.

  Autumn Summer

Prehistoric Britain

  1. What were the first humans like?
  2. Which animals lived during the Ice Age?
  3. What were the different periods in the Stone Age?
  4. Why was the development of agriculture important?
  5. How did the Bronze Age change how humans lived?
  6. Who were the Celts and what was life like for them?

Ancient Greece

  1. How was Ancient Greece organised?
  2. What was the Golden Age of Greece?
  3. What did the Greeks believe?
  4. Who were the Ancient Greek philosophers?
  5. Who won the Peloponnesian War?
  6. Why was Alexander so great?

Year 4

During Year 4, the children learn about the early History of Britain, building on their understanding of Empire with their Roman topic and with a strong emphasis on invasion and conflict throughout.

  Autumn Spring Summer


  1. How did the Roman Empire become so powerful?
  2. How did the Romans conquer Britain?
  3. Why did Boudicaa lead a revolt against the Romans?
  4. How did the Romans change Britain?
  5. What did the Romans believe?
  6. Why did the Romans leave Britain?


  1. How do we know about the Anglo Saxons?
  2. Why did Vortigen make a deal with the Anglo-Saxons?
  3. What was life like for Anglo-Saxons?
  4. What did the Anglo-Saxons believe?
  5. What was the heptarchy?
  6. Why did the Anglo-Saxons build burghs?



  1. Why did the Vikings invade Britain?
  2. What happened at Lindisfarne in 793?
  3. Why did Alfred sign a treaty with Guthrum?
  4. Were the Vikings the first Europeans to discover the Americas?
  5. Who were the Norse Gods?
  6. Did King Cnut try to stop the tide from coming in?

Year 5

In Year 5, the children revisit and build on their understanding of the ideas of civilisation, conflict and invastion, and empire in their topic about the Benin Kingdom.  They focus on power and legitimacy as they learn about the changing roles of the Church, the monarch and parliament in their topic 'Medieval Monarchs'.  

  Autumn Summer

The Benin Kingdom

  1. How did the Benin Kingdom begin?
  2. What was life like for the Edo people in the Benin Kingdom?
  3. How were trade links established and what goods were traded?
  4. What led to the Civil war in the 1700s?
  5. What was the transatlantic slave trade?
  6. Why did the British colonise Benin and what impact did this have?


Medieval Monarchs

  1. In 1066, who was the rightful heir to the throne?
  2. Who was responsible for the death of Thomas Becket? 
  3. Who was the worse King – Richard or John?
  4. In what ways was Edward 1 a great and terrible King?
  5. Why did Henry VIII initiate the Reformation?
  6. Was Elizabeth I weak and feeble?

In Year 6, the children build on their understanding of all the themes in new and more sophisticated contexts.  In their Industrial Revolution topic, they learn about culture and identity, find out more about the British Empire and also build on their understanding of power and legitimacy from their work in Year 5.  They learn about the Civil Rights movement, developing their understanding of conflict and also learning still more about power and legitimacy. Finally, in their topic about twentieth century conflict, the children learn more about empire and conflict and invasion.   

  Autumn Spring Summer

The Industrial Revolution

  1. What were the key features of Victorian society?
  2. How did new inventions affect the Industrial Revolution? 
  3. How did living conditions change during the Industrial Revolution?
  4. How did working conditions change during the Industrial Revolution?
  5. How did the Industrial Revolution change Reading?
  6. What political changes took place during the Industrial Revolution.

Civil Rights

  1. What was the United States of America like in the 1950s?
  2. Why did Oliver Brown take the Board of Education to the Supreme Court?
  3. Why didn’t Rosa Parks give up her seat on the bus?
  4. What was Martin Luther King Jr’s dream?
  5. Why did 3200 people march from Selma to Montgomery?
  6. What is the Black Lives Matter movement and why is it needed?

Twentieth Century Conflict

  1. What caused the First World War to break out?
  2. Why were so many lives lost on the Western Front?
  3. Was the treaty of Versailles fair?
  4. How did Hitler rise to power in the 1930s?
  5. What was life like in Nazi Germany?
  6. Was the second World War inevitable?


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