INTENT – to what do we aspire for our children?
A high-quality geography education should inspire in pupils a curiosity and fascination about the world and its people that will remain with them for the rest of their lives. Teaching should equip pupils with knowledge about diverse places, people, resources and natural and human environments, together with a deep understanding of the Earth’s key physical and human processes. As pupils progress, their growing knowledge about the world should help them to deepen their understanding of the interaction between physical and human processes, and of the formation and use of landscapes and environments. Geographical knowledge, understanding and skills provide the frameworks and approaches that explain how the Earth’s features at different scales are shaped, interconnected and change over time.
Source: National Curriculum (updated Jan 2021)
What drives our geography curriculum at St Werburgh’s Primary School?
Geographers at St Werburgh’s Primary use geographical vocabulary, tools, and maps to identify and describe natural and human-created systems or features. Using fieldwork, they observe, explore, measure and record features in the landscape, and how humans interact with the world around them. They understand that humans are changing their environment and that we can all now act to create a better, more sustainable world.
Geography develops our school values in the following ways:
- being inclusive and celebrating people and cultures from all around the world
- developing respect and empathy towards others
- understand interconnections and how they can influence people, places and characteristics
- developing an understanding of geographical processes, how they work and their effect on us
- think like a geographer; developing questions and knowing where to find the answers
- developing an understanding of similarities and differences between our location and others
- thinking creatively about geographical issues i.e. climate change
- generating solutions to improve sustainability
- representing their learning creatively
The national curriculum for geography aims to ensure that all pupils:
- develop contextual knowledge of the location of globally significant places – both terrestrial and marine – including their defining physical and human characteristics and how these provide a geographical context for understanding the actions of processes
- understand the processes that give rise to key physical and human geographical features of the world, how these are interdependent and how they bring about spatial variation and change over time
- are competent in the geographical skills needed to:
- collect, analyse and communicate with a range of data gathered through experiences of fieldwork that deepen their understanding of geographical processes
- interpret a range of sources of geographical information, including maps, diagrams, globes, aerial photographs and Geographical Information Systems (GIS)
- communicate geographical information in a variety of ways, including through maps, numerical and quantitative skills and writing at length
- understand how physical and human geography contribute towards cultural diversity and uniqueness
- articulate their knowledge and understanding of geography and being a geographer
In Reception we build the foundations for future understanding of concepts in Geography through exploring within the area of learning, Understanding the World. Connections are made to local places and spaces through planned visits to the local mosque, community centre, parks, wooded areas and local shops. The children have many opportunities such as playing with sand and water to begin to develop their understanding of erosion and permeability, role playing shops to support their understanding of trade and looking at and drawing maps to make sense of their environments and the world around them. Small world play is crucial to support the mathematical concept of spatial awareness which provides children with the skill needed for map making. The world of a young child begins with their immediate home and family which we explore as a foundation to move into learning about life outside of this. We explore environments through story and make comparisons between city life, life in the countryside and life in other countries in the world.
Long term sequence
It is our intention that pupils become a little more expert as they progress through the curriculum, accumulating and connecting substantive and disciplinary geographical knowledge. Our curriculum follows the principles of instruction, is guided by understanding how the memory works and cognitive load theory.
Our curriculum starts in EYFS and that is outlined below:
Concept mapping across the geography curriculum
The substantive concepts have been chosen inline with the school’s key drivers as outlined above.
Children learn abstract concepts learned through meaningful examples and repeated encounters in different contexts across the curriculum. This explicit planning supports children to transfer their knowledge across the curriculum and use it to frame future learning.
Knowledge organisers are used for each unit. Summary of the main reasons for use below:
- Conveys the core knowledge in one place
- A reference point for pupils and teachers
- Used to support questioning and retrieval
- Used in books to support participation
- Highlights key vocabulary
- Reduces split attention effect
Disciplinary knowledge: this is the use of knowledge as a geographer; the types of questions a geographer might ask themselves as they explore the world. These are framed as questions in order to ensure personalisation to each unit of learning but also to reflect disciplinary thinking.
The disciplinary knowledge is mapped across the curriculum to ensure it is clearly sequenced and ensures progression.
An example of how this is represented in a unit is below:
We recognise the vital role that oracy plays in the lives and life chances of our children, therefore we plan explicit opportunities to develop their oracy skills as well as opportunities to learn through oracy across the curriculum.
We promote oracy through Geogrpahy by teaching Tier 2 & 3 vocabulary and using discussion guidelines in classes which allows the children to explain, discuss, debate and share their ideas.
IMPLEMENTATION – how will we deliver the curriculum?
Linking curriculum and pedagogy
Our geography curriculum is taught across each year group in modules that enable pupils to study in depth key geographical skills and vocabulary and demonstrate their understanding. Each module builds upon prior learning and these are strategically planned throughout the academic year with opportunities to introduce and revisit key concepts in order to deepen pupil understanding and embed learning. Low stakes quizzing to retrieve knowledge and remember more is used regularly.
Each lesson follows the model above.
- CONNECT to prior knowledge
- EXPLAIN new content i.e. vocabulary
- give an EXAMPLE of new learning
- Pupils ATTEMPT new learning with scaffolding i.e. knowledge notes and organisers
- APPLY new learning independently using success criteria
- Pupils are CHALLENGED to integrate learning with prior knowledge
Opportunities for thinking like a geographer are built into each lesson.
We recognise some pupils need provision ‘additional to’ quality first teaching in order to reach their potential as geographers. This includes:
- Carefully considered scaffolding
- Pre and post-teaching
- Pre-planned management of cognitive load
- Explicit instruction and modelling
- Structured challenge, without ceilings
- Alternative ways of recording
- Additional targeted adult support
In some instances, specialist adaptations are made to support the specific barriers of individual pupils.
Reading across the curriculum: Our curriculum is supported with high quality and meaningful texts.
Curriculum enrichment at St Werburgh’s
- Visiting speakers
- Educational visits to local areas and workshops
- Utilising the rich geography of Bristol
- Parental heritage and place
- Forest Schools; outdoor environment
- Geographical enrichment experiences are mapped out in the Passport of Experiences (EYFS – Y6):
IMPACT – how do we know our curriculum is effective?
- use geographical vocabulary
- talk about geographical concepts and knowledge
- discuss ‘being a geographer’
- explain and justify the ‘why’ behind the work
- explain how learning builds on previous knowledge
- articulate their progress regardless of their starting point
High quality outcomes: book study
- demonstrates pride and effort
- captures increasing understanding of geographical concepts, knowledge and fieldwork & skills
- illustrates a clear sequence of learning
- exhibits taught vocabulary used correctly
CUSP is designed and built on the premise that ‘learning equals a persistent change in the long term memory.’ Therefore, the assessment structures are designed to evaluate the effectiveness of the curriculum sometime after it has been taught.
The curriculum is a progression model. Teachers will know whether students are making progress if they are learning more of the curriculum.
The CUSP curriculum is designed to ensure sequencing of core knowledge, vocabulary, substantive concepts and disciplinary knowledge. They will know more, and remember more with the taught curriculum content. Essentially they will be able to do more with this knowledge in carefully designed learning tasks.
This will be assessed using the Book Study approach- talking with pupils and looking at their books systematically to reveal:
- Content and knowledge
- How the pedagogy and taught curriculum helps/hinders their learning
Pupils will be assessed formatively as each lesson progresses. Pupils will be given tasks from which the teachers will draw conclusions. Adaptations will then be made as a result of that evidence.
Strategies that might be used are:
- Making explicit the learning intention and success criteria
- Eliciting evidence of pupils’ prior knowledge
- Feeding back at the point of learning
- Inclusive questioning i.e. cold call, mini whiteboards
Retrieval practice i.e. cumulative quizzing