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What we believe for our curriculum

Holbrook’s River of Knowledge (RoK) is a topic based curriculum, driven by key themes and core texts, which creates a passion for learning, with a focus on contextualised learning through first hand experiences. This allows time for children to work in depth and build their knowledge and understanding across a range of subject areas, all linked in topic, which puts their learning into context. Geography and history quite often drive these topic areas and are often the foundations for each term’s theme.


At Holbrook, we consider history and geography to be so closely linked that they often led and planned together. Both subjects help children understand similarities and differences between societies and cultures and the impact of changes on people and places. The use of careful and varied research, evidence and fieldwork are also crucial in developing good knowledge and understanding in both subjects.


Some history and geography units are directly linked, for example the Mayans and Southern America, and would be taught together in the same River of Knowledge unit. However, we do not believe in making weak links when it would be more appropriate to teach history or geography self-individually. 


We believe in an active teaching approach which inspires children’s and teacher’s enthusiasm and interest, and deepens their understanding. The humanities are also an ideal forum for enriching and supporting other areas of the curriculum, particularly English, Maths and ICT.  “The best way of learning about anything is by doing.” (Richard Branston).


Aims of teaching History:

  • To help children understand the present in the context of the past, promoting their sense of chronology.
  • To encourage pupils to empathise with people of the past through role play, and to respect and celebrate differences.
  • To develop children’s historical enquiry skills through using and evaluating evidence, asking and answering questions.
  • To support them in working together to research topics, prepare arguments, organise events and present their findings in variety of ways.
  • To enrich other areas of the curriculum.


Aims of teaching Geography:

  • To help children make sense of their own surroundings through learning about their own locality and the interaction between people and their environment.
  • For children to develop an interest in the wonder of the world, including an appreciation of ethnic, cultural and economic diversity.
  • To develop the skills necessary to carry out effective geographical enquiry.
  • To develop a sense of responsibility towards the environment and an understanding of the human impact on the natural world.
  • To enrich and support other areas of the curriculum.


How we put our aims into daily practice

Humanities units are planned through the River of Knowledge termly topics. Years 1/2 , years 3/4 and years 5/6 explore the same topic to give the opportunity for joint fieldwork, and sharing of planning and ideas by class teachers. Sometimes all the year groups will have a joint topic when opportunities arise, such as an Olympic year. These are usually a few weeks long at the most. Teaching of humanities are taught by the class teacher as both standalone lessons and through cross-curricular links in other subject areas, such as English.


The class teachers refer to progression of skills grids (that reflect the National Curriculum programs of study) to ensure appropriate coverage across phases. In many cases, medium term plans for subjects are written by the teachers to be more active, purposeful and exciting for pupils and teachers although other plans, such as twinkl, are also used to aid planning.


At Holbrook we understand that in order to become experts, the children need to be taught specific historical and geographical skills and given the opportunity to develop good understanding of the key questions. We believe that children learn best when they are inspired by a real purpose. Often medium term planning is based around key questions and suggestions are made for a “mini project” to help consolidate children’s learning, for example, at the end of a topic about toys, set up your own toys museum for parents to visit. There are excellent opportunities for involvement of parents, governors and the wider community in the children’s learning, such as inviting visitors in to help with certain projects or to join on trips.


We are successful because

Wherever possible, opportunities for geographical fieldwork and visits to sites of historical interest are exploited. Children gain so much from these trips that they cannot experience in the classroom alone.  Many of these trips are in the local area, as these also encourage links to the local community, but out of the ordinary trips are also planned at least once a year and are usually linked to the humanities, Risk assessments are carried out and approved by the head teacher prior to the visit.

Cross Curricular Humanities Learning