Subject Leader: Mrs C Gaimster
Geography makes a major contribution to children’s physical, intellectual, social and emotional development. In short, geography matters!
Geography teaches an understanding of places and environments. Through their work in geography, children learn about their local area and compare their life in this area, with that in other regions in the United Kingdom and in the rest of the world. They learn how to draw and interpret maps and they develop the skills of research, investigation and problem-solving. Through their growing knowledge and understanding of human geography, children gain an appreciation of life in other cultures. Geography teaching also motivates children to find out about the physical world and enables them to recognise the importance of sustainable development for the future of mankind.
Geography permeates throughout our curriculum and is one of our key subject drivers in developing the ‘World Citizens’ side of our school curriculum. Through studying a range of people and places, children are taught to challenge stereotypes connected to gender, wealth, disability and cultural background and are educated that differences, including where you are born or live in the world, should be celebrated and are not a barrier to achievement.
How is the content / theme chosen?
At King’s Meadow Academy, geography is taught through a ‘theme’ based approach. This allows coverage of the National Curriculum objectives for Geography and the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) framework, in a more meaningful context. Our children start by learning about their own immediate locality, allowing them to start to learn and use the language associated with geography, as they begin to develop basic fieldwork skills. Children then learn to compare their own locality to places in the United Kingdom, before going on to learn about and make comparisons to places in the wider world. They use atlases to plan and plot journeys around the world. They point out where the equator, north pole and south pole are on a globe or atlas. The children name the continents of the world and the countries that form the United Kingdom including the capital cities. They also consider the seas that surround these.
Whenever possible, we teach geography as a discrete lesson, but with cross curricular links with other subjects, to enable children to embed learning and make connections. This leads to a greater depth of understanding within the subject. The content is therefore chosen to make effective links with key themes, reflect expectations in the National Curriculum programmes of study and EYFS framework and engage the children. The content may also be chosen based upon the needs or interests of specific cohorts or links to events which are taking place in the community or wider world (e.g. The Olympics).
Three key themes run throughout the year through the teaching of geography:
- Human Impact in relation to caring for our World.
- Comparing the Physical and Human Features of the places that we study.
- Comparing similarities and celebrating differences to our own way of life, to that of people in another country.
How do we ensure progression of knowledge and skills?
At King’s Meadow Academy we have in place, for each subject area, a knowledge and skills progression document, which is used for planning, to ensure sequenced and appropriate content for specific year groups. Teachers are clear on the learning and expectations for each year group, as this has been carefully selected and mapped out so that children are building on prior knowledge and skills each term and each year.
Within these documents there are opportunities for differentiation, in order to meet the needs of all learners.
How is the subject taught?
A two year, long term rolling programme maps out the coverage of the discrete teaching and learning opportunities for children to develop and embed specific skills and key knowledge in Geography. The knowledge content is carefully selected and skilfully taught alongside the key skills and the three main geographical concepts , which are threaded throughout the Geography curriculum. This allows children ample opportunities to revisit, reinforce and embed learning.
New vocabulary is taught, with the key emphasis on common words and phrases. Although we actively introduce and are ambitious with the language we use, we understand the importance not to over complicate this language with very young children, but ensure underlying principles and meanings of the words are taught and understood.
Within each discrete block of geography teaching, class teachers carefully plan the specific outcomes for their year group, based upon age appropriate knowledge and skills, as well as the needs of the cohort or individuals within it.
Children are introduced to and reminded of key vocabulary. Questioning is used to check their understanding and prior knowledge, before new concepts, skills or knowledge are introduced.
Modelling is used by class teachers to clarify expectations, children are then given plentiful opportunities to consolidate, build upon and apply basic skills and knowledge, across a series of lessons, as well as across the year.
When children are learning about a subject through a discrete teaching sessions they are explicitly told that today they are going to be ‘geographers.’
In addition to discrete teaching in this subject, opportunities and links are made to this subject throughout the year. For example, subject knowledge about places, continents and oceans is an ongoing theme, which links to other subjects being taught. Learning about seasons and the weather also continues throughout the year.
The lives of significant people nationally and globally are carefully chosen across subjects and year groups so that children are continually developing a sense of place, identifying and locating countries across the world and applying the geographical language they have learnt.
Texts relating to the three main geographical concepts under study are planned to ensure progression and ambition between year groups.
This ensures that elements of the geography curriculum are accessed by children throughout the year.
Teaching Geography in EYFS
The children in EYFS learn about links to other countries. Reception children take part in environment walks around school discussing the features of their environment and how they are similar, or different, to their own setting. The children use books and stories as a focus to discuss similarities and differences between their culture and that of others. The children also look at the habitats of animals. They make observations of animals and plants and explain why some things occur. They begin to consider how physical and human features can affect how animals live.
Planning and teaching in EYFS is similar to that in Key Stage 1. The children are expected to develop a specific set of skills and knowledge appropriate to their age. This is often beyond the expectations that are set out in the end of year Early Learning Goals, as we prepare our children with the knowledge and skills they will need in geography, ready for year 1. As well as topic work and the discrete teaching of skills and knowledge, children in EYFS are given the opportunity to continually practise and embed their skills through the areas of provision set up in the indoor and outdoor learning environments.
How do we know that our children are making progress?
Ongoing assessments of the children’s knowledge and skills are observed by the class teacher. Misconceptions are addressed and next steps carefully planned. Children’s outcomes are compared to the subject specific skills and knowledge documents. At the end of a block of discrete teaching (or term) subject leaders gather an overview of children’s outcomes in each subject area. This is used to plan appropriate next steps for their future learning, as well as provide an overview of learning within a subject area cross the whole school.
What wider opportunities are provided for our children?
Children have the opportunity to participate in regular visits out to places, including exploring their own locality to develop a sense of belonging. Visits around the locality and participating in local events, allow them to question why things are as they are where they live and start to make comparisons with other places.
Fieldwork is at the heart of being a geographer and this is carried out through carefully planned activities for all children in school to participate in. Fieldwork enables the children to develop a true sense of place. To use their senses to explore and become curious about the world around them, and develop their investigative skills to ask questions about where they live. Geography gives children a sense of pride and belonging as they get to know their own locality before exploring the wider world.