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At Middle Street we use the Chris Quigley Essentials curriculum for History.
Three elements make up the Essentials Curriculum:
Threshold concepts are the ‘big ideas’ that shape students’ thinking within each subject. The same threshold concepts will be explored in every year group and students will gradually increase their understanding of them. Previous editions of this curriculum referred to the Threshold Concepts as ‘objectives’. We have stopped using this terminology because it implies that there is a target to be met. Instead of meeting objectives we now advocate exploring concepts. An important principle, therefore, is that exploring concepts will never be complete; students will continue to explore them for as long as they continue to study the subject. Each subject begins with an overview of the essential characteristics students should develop and these form the basis for the threshold concepts.
An example of one of the threshold concepts in history is “evidence tells us about the past”. This, of course, cannot be taught in isolation: it would be abstract and meaningless to students. The concept must be explored within a breadth of different contexts so that it has tangibility and meaning.
Breadth of contexts
Breadth provides the contexts for exploring the threshold concepts. It has two roles:
Each subject has a suggested breadth of study which exceeds the requirements of the English National Curriculum. it is also recommended that schools consider additional breadth of study so that students develop cultural capital. (The essential knowledge that pupils need to be educated citizens, introducing them to the best that has been thought and said and helping to engender an appreciation of human and creative achievement.)
Milestones for progress
Because the threshold concepts are repeated in each year group it is important that students progress in their understanding of them. The Essentials Curriculum sets out this progression in the form of three ‘Milestones’. Each Milestone contains a range of descriptors which give more detail to be discovered within the concept. Over a two year period students will become more and more familiar with these details by exploring them in a breadth of contexts.