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This exemplar document details the key historical skills and lists some activities to show how to acheive these from EYFS to Y6. Please note that this has been created for my own school and so some of these will not be appropriate for your topics depending on where you have them. This is also a WORKING DOCUMENT which is not currently completed. There are a handful of topics (and therefore skills and content) that I still need to add into KS1 as we changed our curriculum around due to mixed classes. This should give you an idea of what to include though.

The aim is to try and provide clear and logical progression in each of the various skills. I have seen too many types of documents like this that I would describe as 'woolly' at best - you aren't any the wiser after reading them and the statements seem very generic without any sort of guidance or direction. Quite often, the skills themselves are never actually listed and can therefore be missed or never understood to have even existed!

I used the Rising Stars Progression Framework as a starting point because it was written by colleagues of mine from the Historical Association, so I knew that it had expertise behind it and would have been peer-reviewed. I adapted it to suit my own needs and I added 'Vocabulary' in as this is something that I feel needs attention (plus Ofsted seem to have been flirting with this quite openly across foundation subjects). You can find the original document here:

You may need to sign up to the site in order to access it, but at the time of publication, this was free with just an email address (November 2020). It is a brilliant guide that can be used with or without their schemes of work.



Please note though that it is very hard to create a 'Progression of Vocabulary' document because it depends on which topics are being covered in which year groups. For example, having an Egyptian topic in Y4 will likely see the words 'Pharaoh' or 'Sphinx', whereas you are unlikely to see them elsewhere. The same can be said of 'Emperor' or 'Berserker', words that are pertinent to a specific group of people. I have tried to build progression within the chronological aspects as this is a constant in every topic. I would expect to see and hear the children become more articulate by using phrases such as 'continuity, change, cause, effect, significance, interpretation' etc. as they develop throughout school.

Skills and content

You are welcome to take this document as a basis for your own progression of skills. Please be mindful though that your history curriculum should be rooted in skill rather than content. My own philosophy is that virtually any content can be applied to the same skill:

If you're looking at primary sources, analysing a Roman pot is no different from a Greek vase or a Viking helmet. You still ask the same kinds of questions and can draw similar conclusions, but the content is different. Similarly, looking at continuity and change, whether you are comparing Anglo-Saxon beliefs with Romans, Romans with Vikings or the Iron Age with Romans, the principals and skills are the same, it is just the content that is different.

Differences can occur when it comes to analysing written primary sources though. Boudica is a fantastic example for introducing the idea of bias and contradictory evidence (her death still remains a mystery), as do the Greek accounts of the Battle of Thermopylae, although I feel that the Greek one is suited a little more to UKS2. However, you could find alternative sources to fit your topics, but these ones are generally a bit easier to access and understand. You can find resource packs for both of these on their respective Roman and Greek pages.


If you would like more information about creating your own progression of skills document or what each skill actually involves, I offer a 1-hour CPD session which breaks down each of the skills, their links to the National Curriculum and activities that can be done to achieve them. Just send a message through the Contact page for more information.

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