Primary Humanities Network meeting (Term 4)


A meeting with a difference!  Held virtually with the aid of Zoom software, rather than in situ as planned due to the coronavirus outbreak.  I debated whether to go ahead with our meeting, but several teachers were self-isolating and still keen to participate.  I have recorded the session, however, and am more than happy to share this and the accompanying multimedia presentation with anyone that had reserved a place and was unable to attend.  I may also consider offering a repeat of the event online before the Easter holidays, but it is very much dependent on what materialises over the next week; schools do not really know what pupil numbers they will have next week, how staffing will be managed and how long they will be faced with such challanging circumstances.

After welcoming everyone, and a brief overview from Pam Ingram about her charitable work with schools in Nepal (do let me know if you wish to connect with schools there or support the charity and I will put you in touch with her), I outlined the aims of the session, namely:

  • To become more familiar with the processes and procedures of inspection now undertaken by Ofsted (new Education Inspection Framework – EIF).
  • To consider ‘impact’ in more depth.
  • To explore the Subject Leader’s role and responsibilities further.
  • To enable you to return to school with additional ideas to support your continued whole school curriculum planning and development.

The ‘starter’ focused very much on the latest developments relating to Ofsted’s Education Inspection Framework (EIF).  This week, it was announced that Ofsted has temporarily suspended routine inspections of schools, further education, early years and social care providers as a result of the coronavirus pandemic (  I did link to other recent news, including an article by Sean Harford HMI about Ofsted’s curriculum transition arrangements and an extension until July 2021 (; Eylan Ezekiel’s seven questions that school leaders should ask when building their curriculum ( and Dr Helen Edwards’ thoughts on how the new Education Inspection Framework is being implemented in practice in Early Years settings (

Moreover, I highlighted what the leading subject associations, such as the Geographical Association (GA) and Historical Association (HA) have done.  There is an updated summary of the GA’s support for the EIF (, as well as information about the launch of GeogPod ( and a new progression framework for geography (  I referenced a few articles that had appeared in the Spring edition of their Primary Geography journal too (; Helen Martin’s ‘Making the difference with intent‘; Alan Parkinson’s fantastic ‘Finding geography online‘, which could be extremely useful at this moment in time, and Jason Cannons’ ‘Feedback to feedforward: a teacher’s perspective’ discussing the value of pupils’ feedback in effective geography teaching and learning.  The HA have been proactive of late as well, adding or revising new schemes of work, such as ‘Should we call Grace O’Malley a pirate?’, ‘Benin’ and ‘Ancient Greece’ (  In Primary History 83, Tim Lomas wrote an inspiring article about teaching crime and punishment as a post-1066 theme (  In the Spring edition, Sandra Kirkham explores ‘Using stories to support early history skills and understanding in the EYFS’ , Stuart Boydell explains how ‘ … pupil voice shapes history teaching and learning in our school’, there is a case study of primary history at Raynville Primary School by Robbie Burns, Matthew Sossick’s article, ‘Epistemic insights: bringing subject disciplines together to help children answer big questions’, very much reiterates what David Weatherly suggested at his last Regional Primary Geography Conference, and Karin Doull’s adds her thoughts about ‘Extending the curriculum: why should we consider ‘value added’?’ (

Bev Forrest, in her writing for Teachwire, suggests that a local history theme can be an effective vehicle for developing KS1 pupils’ skills related to enquiry and the use of sources (  Some of the most meaningful local history is that found on a smaller scale and closer to home.  The local environment itself, photographs and oral history are the most easily accessible and popular ways for developing these areas with this age group.  Why not focus on one building and its change of use?  Stuart Boydell, who is based at King Edward School in Bath, conducted a study of the school building with his Year 2 class to discover if it dated back to the Victorian era.

Considering ‘History in the News’ meant that I had to give a mention to International Women’s Day and Women’s History Month 2020, both in March (  There are many lesson plans and ideas for use at Key Stages 1 and 2 on their website, which are well worth delving into (  Knowledge organisers, like the one for the Romans on Teachit Primary’s website (, are quite a contested phenomenon.  I shared a few thoughts about knowledge organisers from members of the GA’s and HA’s Primary Committees, as well as leading authors.  Bought in versions were generally frowned upon; instead, they should be made in-house to support non-specialists delivering history themes or created by pupils themselves as they acquire knowledge, develop skills and deepen their understanding throughout a topic.  Dual-coding is being tried and tested by many at present; I displayed a great example relating to a geography case study, but the idea can be transferred to many other subject areas too (  Matthew Sossick wrote an article in the latest edition of Primary History, entitled ‘Knowledge-rich approaches to history and the discipline of history’ (, in which he adds his thoughts about knowledge organisers.

‘Reading across the curriculum’ and ‘cultural capital’ are key features of Ofsted’s new Education Inspection Framework.  UNICEF’s ‘Paddington’s postcards’ is a great way of integrating both of these (  ‘The Journey’ by Francesca Sanna ( is a wonderful book and Amnesty International have produced a PDF file with suggestions as to how this can be used to explore human rights, e.g. migration; refugees. (  The GA has a list of other picture books that can be accessed to explore such themes too (  Michael Morpurgo Month was celebrated in February 2020 (, but the website has a wealth of books ( and resources ( to search through.  One of my favourite children’s authors is Oliver Jeffers.  His latest offering, ‘The Fate of Fausto’, links with plenty of classroom topics, such as geographical features, seasons and sciences, particularly to do with water and the oceans, and there is an accompanying FREE downloadable teaching resource available via Teachwire’s website (  About a month ago, I came across the book ‘River Stories’ by Timothy Khapman (; it provides an opportunity to ‘sail along five mighty rivers around the world’, e.g. Nile; Amazon; Yangste; Mississippi and Rhine, ‘and open up the giant fold-out pages to reveal incredible stories from history, mythology and modern times’.   Marc Martin’s book, ‘A river’, was one that I brought along to a previous Primary Humanities Network meeting (; there are now ideas for classroom activities to use with both Key Stage 1 and 2 pupils on Teachwire’s website, which are worth a peek (  The ‘Percy the Park Keeper’ series is celebrating its 30th anniversary and have also created some associated classroom activities, ideal for use with Key Stage 1 during Terms 2 or 3 perhaps?  ( has many free learning resources from arts, cultural and heritage organisations; I particularly like their collection of 34 ‘stories’.  Although coronavirus is hitting the headlines at this moment in time, climate change is likely to be at the forefront again before too long.  Nicola Bridge, Head of Conservation Education and Communications at the Ocean Conservation Trust, writes about the need for the government to look at ways of supporting teachers to deliver marine elements across the curriculum in the future (  Rebecca Morch’s book, ‘Who will save us?’ (, and her Facebook page ( raise some pertinent questions about this issue too.

The ‘main’ part of our online meeting considered the last of the 3Is, ‘impact’.  I began with an activity, called ‘Give one to get one!’.  We had to adapt this slightly since we were connecting online and far fewer in number than originally anticipated.  However, participants saw how useful this might be as part of a staff meeting or as a strategy for engaging all pupils in class discussion.

In the Autumn edition of Primary Geography, Alan Kinder and Dr Paula Owens wrote a fantastic article, entitled ‘The New Education Inspection Framework through a geographical lens’ (  I ‘zoomed in’ on the sections linked to ‘Curriculum Impact’ and ‘Subject Leadership’ and shared templates for a book scrutiny and lesson observation.  Dr Paula Owens has also produced the brilliant ‘Ofsted Education Inspection Framework (EIF) (2019) and implications for primary geography’ (, which considers what outstanding and good  intent, implementation and impact look like and relays several key messages.  At the Regional Primary Geography Conference in early March 2020, and in conjunction with the Primary Connected Geography and History series that David Weatherly wrote for Harper Collins (, he discussed impact and how we assess the progress our pupils make in geography in some depth.  David has just produced a document, which outlines Geography Learning Goals (GLGs) for each year group, and is in the process of creating end of unit enquiry sheets for teachers to assess and record the attainment of pupils in their school, e.g. working towards; expected; greater depth.

In terms of the Subject Leader’s role and reponsibilities, I referenced the guidance available on Pebble Pad for those completing their Primary Geography Quality Mark (PGQM) application (  It divides the Subject Leader’s file into six sections and recommends a number of items underneath each sub-heading that should be included.  Part of the GA’s website gives attention to ‘Leading geography in primary schools’ ( and ‘The role of the Subject Leader’ (, which you should certainly explore.  The HA are continually developing their ‘Primary Subject Leader Area’ (; the latest additions include Bev Forrest’s article ‘Writing a history policy’ (, Helen Crawford and Rob Nixon’s contribution on ‘EYFS: What does good curriculum provision look like?’ ( and ‘The bigger picture: Curriculum overview’ by Stuart Tiffany (  Glenn Carter’s ‘History Rocks!’ website has a wealth of Subject Leader materials to peruse too (, such as ‘A handy guide for new history coordinators‘, ‘Complete school history audit’, ‘KS2 world history timeline’, ‘Food throughout history e-book’ and ‘Cause and effect interactive’.  For educational resources related to history, ( is superb; although based in North Yorkshire, Peter provides a nationwide service.

We paused for a refreshment break and I allocated time for individuals to investigate the suggested weblinks and resources at their leisure, seek answers to any questions that they had and share best practice.  We then reconvined for the plenary; this time it was feedback via the chat box facility in Zoom, rather than the usual coloured post-it notes.

Not an easy session to deliver in such unprecedented and unknown circumstances, but will provide individuals with some support over the next few weeks when they might have a little more time to dedicate to their Subject Leader’s role and responsibilities.

Hopefully, it will not be too long before we meet again … I will organise another meeting once it is clear how things are progressing.

Take care and stay healthy.

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