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Quite simple, it is our intention that every pupil, irrelevant of needs, achieves their full potential and develops a love of life-long learning through Birchwood’s innovative curriculum design… our Wheel of Wisdom.



Through Humanities we aim to support our WOW philosophy by:


  • Linking history and geography closely so that they are best led and planned jointly. 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 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 Ancient and Modern Egypt, and would be taught together in the same Wheel of Wisdom unit. However, we do not believe in making tenuous links when it would be more appropriate to teach history or geography.
  • Perhaps most importantly, we believe in a “hands on” active approach which sparks 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.  “I hear and I forget, I see and I remember, I do and I understand.”

(Ancient Chinese Proverb).




Humanities units are planned through the Wheel of Wisdom. Years 1/2 , years 3/4 and years 5/6 study the same theme 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. 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. Subject specialist teachers may also use elements of humanities in their planning, such as in computing and music.


The class teachers refer to Key Skill Breadth of Study grids (that reflect the National Curriculum programs of study) to ensure appropriate coverage across phases. In many cases, medium term plans for humanities are written by the teachers to be more active, purposeful and exciting for pupils.


Humanities in The Foundation Stage

EYFS ‘Understanding The World’ is a specific area of learning.  Development in this area involves guiding children to make sense of their physical world and their community through opportunities to explore, observe and find out about people, places, technology and the environment. We aim to deliver this through planned, purposeful activities, with a mix of adult-led and child-initiated activities (see EYFS policy for more detailed information).


Humanities and the Wheel of Wisdom (WOW) Key Stage 1

At Birchwood we believe that children learn best when they are inspired by a real purpose. In Key Stage One, 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. Many homework tasks are set for children to complete at home with parents, based around a Humanities focus.  Parents/family members are also invited in to termly learning together sessions, which often have a Humanities focus.


Humanities and the Wheel of Wisdom (WOW) Key Stage 2

In Key Stage Two there are excellent opportunities for involvement of parents, governors and the wider community in the children’s learning. However, we believe very strongly 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.

Once again, many homework tasks are set for children to complete at home with parents, based around a Humanities focus. Parents/family members are also invited in to termly learning together sessions, which often have a Humanities focus.




There are literally hundreds of ways we can demonstrate the excellent impact our Humanities curriculum design has on our pupils. In a nutshell here is one example:

1. The Year 1 and 2 children have all created their own London houses dated back to 1666 when the Great Fire of London took place. They considered how their houses looked using drawings and videos of the streets back in 1666. We lined them up all together to show how the fire travelled so quickly due to the houses being built so close as well as mainly being made out of wood and with high winds on the first days. We are now eagerly waiting a visit from the Fire service when we can actually set our houses alight to re-enact the Great fire of London on our school playground! Obviously in the safety of the fire service. We cannot wait for this event at the end of October!!!