In our diverse society children need, more than ever before, to understand other people and cultures.
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.
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 St Giles C of E 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.
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 St Giles 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.
Assessment of Geography is also ongoing, informal summative assessment is completed at the end of a topic in the form of a Knowledge Grid and often a quiz.
The children also show their understanding of the topic and what knowledge is embedded by completing a ‘sticky facts’ grid. This is where the children choose to record facts and knowledge that they have learnt in a topic.
The main impact of the curriculum can be seen through the love of Geography that has developed in the minds of our children, their experiences are broadened through workshops and external visits which gives them the confidence to discuss and question their findings.
KS1, Lower Key Stage 2 and Upper Key Stage 2 approach the Geography Curriculum with a team approach; with all teachers contributing to the Geography Curriculum. Coverage of the topics is monitored on a Curriculum Overview Mapping document and Skills Progression Map.
Subject Leaders use pupil voice to ascertain the depth of impact of the Geography curriculum and to inform future planning. Geography is monitored throughout all year groups using a variety of strategies including book scrutiny, lesson observations and pupil interviews.
We aim to give all our pupils the opportunity to success and reach the highest level of personal achievement; to promote the individuality of all our pupils, irrespective of ethnicity, attainment, age, disability, gender or background.
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 block of geography teaching, each key stage 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.
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 promote Communication & Language (including reading), Personal, Social and Emotional Development and Physical Health and Wellbeing?
Our geography curriculum introduces children to a range of new vocabulary, which they become confident in using. It allows them to practise asking questions and encourages them to articulate their answers using their growing knowledge about the world around them. Children develop empathy with people who live in different places and widen their understanding of how people and places, including cultures and traditions, differ across the world. They learn about how their actions can impact on the world in which we live today, as well as in the future.
Our geography curriculum allows our children to find their place in the world! They are shown how to look out at the world and how to respect others. They are equipped with the skills and knowledge to ensure they are responsible citizens in their school, local and wider global community.
At St Giles Academy the impact of the curriculum is assessed and evidenced through the children’s Topic Books and Floor Book. The class teacher makes ongoing assessments of the children’s knowledge and skills. Misconceptions are addressed and next steps carefully planned.
At the start of a topic, the children complete a Vocabulary Grid. This is to see what the children already know, and gives the teacher the opportunity to focus teaching and learning based on what is highlighted that the children are not yet familiar with. If vocabulary is highlighted yellow it means they understand that vocabulary and can give it context and explain it. If the vocabulary is highlighted green it means the children need to be taught the meaning of that specific vocabulary. At the end of the topic, the pupils revisit the vocabulary grid to reflect on their vocabulary knowledge to show that the topic has broadened their knowledge and understanding.
We use these themes in conjunction with our school progression document.