Geography at Glebe aims to inspire in pupils a curiosity and fascination about the world and its people. Teaching and learning supports them in developing their knowledge of globally significant places as well as their local, regional and national areas. This includes defining physical and human characteristics and how these provide a geographical context for understanding the world around them. It further aspires to develop their awareness of geographical processes, how these are interdependent and how they bring about variation and change over time. By the time they leave Glebe, we aim for pupils to be confident in the geographical skills needed to collect, interpret, analyse and communicate a range of data gathered through experiences of fieldwork. They should be comfortable in using maps, diagrams, globes, aerial photographs and Geographical Information Systems (GIS). To support the school’s wider ethos of developing active and responsible citizens, consideration for environmental issues and climate change run through the entire curriculum.
Article 28 – Every child has the right to a good quality education.
Article 29 – Education should help children to develop their talents and abilities.
Mrs P Ruparelia (KS1), Mrs L Stroebel (KS2)
Seema Varsani, Upkar Singh Mandair
Intent, Implementation and Impact
At Glebe we aspire to offer a high-quality geography education that will inspire in pupils a curiosity and fascination about the world and its people that will remain with them for the rest of their lives.
A guiding principle of our curriculum in Geography is that each study draws upon prior learning. For example, in the EYFS, pupils may learn about People, Culture and Communities or The Natural World through daily activities and exploring their locality and immediate environment. This is revisited and positioned so that new and potentially abstract content in Year 1 can be put into a known location and make it easier to cognitively process.
Pupils in EYFS explore globes and world locations through their curiosity corners, making links to where animals live. This substantive knowledge is used to remember and position the locations of continents and oceans, with more sophisticated knowledge. High volume and deliberate practice are essential for pupils to remember and retrieve substantive knowledge and use their disciplinary knowledge to explain and articulate what they know. This means pupils make conscious connections and think hard, using what they know. Geography is built around the principles of cumulative knowledge focusing on spaces, places, scale, human and physical processes with an emphasis on how content is connected and relational knowledge acquired. An example of this is the identification of continents, such as Europe, and its relationship to the location of the UK. Geography equips pupils to become ‘more expert’ with each study and grow an ever broadening and coherent mental model of the subject. This guards against superficial, disconnected and fragmented geographical knowledge.
Specific and associated geographical vocabulary is planned sequentially and cumulatively from Year 1 to Year 6. High frequency, multiple meaning words (tier 2) are taught and help make sense of subject specific words (tier 3). Each learning module in geography has a vocabulary module with teacher guidance, tasks and resources. Geography is planned so that the retention of knowledge is much more than just ‘in the moment knowledge’. The cumulative nature of the curriculum is made memorable by the implementation of Bjork’s desirable difficulties, including retrieval and spaced retrieval practice, word building and deliberate practice tasks. This powerful interrelationship between structure and research-led practice is designed to increase substantive knowledge and accelerate learning within and between study modules.
That means the foundational knowledge of the curriculum is positioned to ease the load on the working memory: new content is connected to prior learning. The effect of this cumulative model supports opportunities for children to associate and connect with places, spaces, scale, people, culture and processes. This fulfils and goes well beyond the expectations of the National Curriculum as we believe there is no ceiling to what pupils can learn if the architecture and practice is founded in evidence-led principles.
By the end of EYFS we aim for pupils to:
- Talk about similarities and differences in relation to places, objects, materials and living things.
- Use terms like near, far, left and right
- Make observations about their local environment (e.g. park, school, home)
- Ask questions about their familiar world (where they live or the natural world)
- Use some descriptive vocabulary to describe features
- Use the local area for exploring both the built and the natural environment.
By the end of KS1 we aim for pupils to:
The sequence in KS1 focuses young children to develop a sense of place, scale and an understanding of human and physical geographical features. Later in KS1, children learn about the purpose and use of sketch maps as well as the key features they need to include. Map skills and fieldwork are essential to support children in developing an understanding of how to explain and describe a place, the people who live there, its space and scale. Initially, children study the orientation of the world through acquiring and making locational sense of the 7 continents and 5 oceans of the world.
They extend their knowledge and study the countries and capital cities of the United Kingdom, along with the oceans and seas that surround us. Further studies support retrieval; children revisit these locations with more complex and sophisticated tasks later in the school year. Enhanced provision in the classroom and use of maps, globes and atlases is essential to form coherent schemata around the big ideas that explain how we know where a place is, and how to locate it. For young children, routes and maps can be made concrete in day-to-day experiences in the safety of their school grounds and classrooms. Throughout KS1, pupils enhance their locational knowledge by studying and identifying human and physical features of places.
To deepen this understanding and transfer concepts, pupils study contrasting locations throughout the world. The location of these areas in the world are deliberately chosen to offer culturally diverse and contrasting places. Pupils study the human and physical features of a non-European location in Africa, such as Nairobi. This is also complemented by a study of an indigenous tribe in the rainforests of Brazil and Venezuela.
These two studies also offer rich opportunities to know, compare and contrast different cultures in two continents using the consistent thread of human and physical features. Fieldwork and map skills are further developed with a study of the local area, using cardinal points of a compass. Maps are introduced through familiar stories as a way to communicate what the place and space is like. Pupils retrieve and apply knowledge about human and physical features in their local context. OS maps are introduced to pupils in KS1 using Digimap for Schools.
Simple keys and features are identified and mapped locally to help begin to understand place, distance and scale. Geography gives pupils the knowledge they need to develop an increasingly sophisticated understanding of place. Pupils study a variety of places – this helps them to connect different geographical concepts and gives them perspectives and opportunities to compare and contrast locations.
LOWER KEY STAGE 2
As pupils begin KS2, fieldwork and map skills are revisited with the intercardinal points of a compass points being introduced to elaborate on the knowledge pupils already have around cardinal points. This substantive and disciplinary knowledge is utilised to support a study of the UK, focusing on regions, counties, landmarks and topography. This study demands analysis and pattern seeking to identify the features of the UK. Further retrieval studies are designed to support conceptual fluency around physical and human features. Cause and effect are also developed through geographical reasoning. An example of this is the interrelationship between physical terrain of the northern regions of the UK and the lower lands of East Anglia, that are covered in glacial deposits. Further studies are undertaken to elaborate fieldwork and map skills through a sharper focus on OS maps.
Pupils elaborate and expand their understanding of human and physical features and apply it to the study of rivers. To enable accurate location of places around the globe, pupils study absolute positioning or reference systems through latitude and longitude. Substantive knowledge is acquired and used to apply their new understanding to mapping and locational skills. An in-depth understanding of latitude and longitude is used by pupils throughout KS2.
Complementing studies on location and position is the focus on the water cycle. It offers explanation and reason about physical processes as well as why certain biomes have specific features in specific global locations. Pupils study geographical patterns across the world using latitude of locations to explain why places are like they are. Further river studies revisit substantive knowledge and these are applied to the River Nile and the Amazon River as a precursor for future learning in other subjects. Further fieldwork and map skills are introduced to enrich pupils’ disciplinary knowledge of locations and places. Cultural awareness and diversity are taught specifically within learning modules. Examples include European studies, as well as studies of countries and people in Africa, and North and South America. A deliberately planned study focusing on the environmental regions of Europe, Russia, and North and South America draws attention to climate regions and is the precursor to studying biomes in UKS2.
UPPER KEY STAGE 2
The study of Biomes and Environmental regions builds upon world locations, latitude and longitude studies. World countries and major cities are located, identified and remembered through deliberate and retrieval practice, such as low stakes quizzing and Two things tasks. The study of biomes is revisited deliberately to ensure the content is remembered and applied. In upper KS2, the study of 4 and 6 figure grid references supports prior learning of reference systems and brings an increased accuracy to mapping and fieldwork skills.
Again, this knowledge is designed to be interrelated and connected to the retrieval study of biomes and environmental regions. Terrain is studied through contour lines and OS map skills and fieldwork. More advanced mapping skills using OS maps are studied and applied, with pupils using the accumulation of knowledge skilfully to analyse distribution and relationships. Route finding and decoding information through maps offers challenge through increasingly complex orienteering and mapping tasks. Pupils take part in geographical analysis using patterns and comparison of both human and physical processes as well as the features present in chosen locations.
This abstract concept is made concrete through studying and comparing the Lake District, the Tatra mountains of Poland and the Blue mountains of Jamaica. Physical processes such as orogeny and glaciation are acquired to explain significant change over long periods of time. The concept of physical process is revisited through a study of Earthquakes, mountains and volcanoes.
This depth study allows pupils the opportunity to have a more sophisticated knowledge of physical processes and make connections about how the environment has been shaped, as a result. Settlement, trade and economic activities are the focus of a study that draws upon the Windrush generation module in History. This develops an increasing knowledge about migration and the factors that push people away or draw people towards settlements. Within these studies, pupils make relational connections between settlements and physical or human features. Settlements such as ports or major world cities are studied to explain the reasons why certain places are populated and why. Disciplinary knowledge supports pupils to reason and explain the effect of change on a place, drawing on prior substantive knowledge they can retrieve and reuse
A wide-ranging collection of resources (e.g. digital mapping software (Digi Maps), compasses, atlases, OS Maps) are used as an integral part of teaching and learning of Geography. These are organised in topic boxes and stored centrally to support teachers plan and deliver engaging and stimulating lessons.
Detailed medium-term planning is available for all topics and has been recently revised as of 2022.
Extensive use is made of a variety of on-line resources such as those from the ‘Geographical Association’ to further support learning. The school uses these materials to ensure that teachers can plan and deliver high quality Geography lessons.
Educational visits are an integral part of the curriculum at Glebe. They help bring geography ‘alive’ and give real substance and relevance to classroom learning. As part of the Year 6 residential visit to Gordon Brown’s educational centre, Year 6 children participate in one day orienteering activities applying their geographical knowledge in context.
Key geographical skills, concepts and knowledge are mapped through statements describing the expectations for pupils in each Year group. Teachers use the National Curriculum to regularly assess pupils’ learning against specific criteria. They are able to clearly identify end points (KS1/KS2) as well as the progression of skills as pupils move up through the year groups.
Teachers assess against Learning Intentions in individual lessons which are derived from the medium-term plans. Each lesson and series of lessons aims to incorporate the key skills and cover specified knowledge.
To ensure that pupils retain and build upon their geographical learning, lesson starters consolidate and reinforce previous lessons. Progression in pupils’ geographical skills and understanding is further assessed by regular formative quizzing and questioning throughout lessons. These key questions are outlined on all Geography MT plans. End of topic assessments are also used to assess pupils’ knowledge in Geography. These can take the form of a piece of extending writing, an information text or a presentation.
The Subject Leaders meet on a termly basis to analyse Geography data and identify gaps and areas for development at a whole school, key stage, year group and individual class level. The leader will then address these areas to ensure the consistency and coherence of assessment in the subject (this may involve CPD, moderation or tailored support).
Regular scrutiny of pupil’s work, teachers’ marking and feedback, lesson observations, learning walks, pupil conferencing, moderation opportunities are all carried out by members of the Leadership team.
In the EYFS, Geography is taught through the Early Learning Goals and is linked to the objectives of both the Primary and Specific Areas within the EYFS Development Matters framework. The most relevant being ‘Understanding the World’. In KS1 and KS2, it is taught in two timetabled weekly lessons. Teaching and learning is structured around a 36-week year.
Glebe has an extensive collection of resources (OS maps, compasses, globes, atlases and a range of digital resources) which are used to support teaching and learning in Geography. Pupils are immersed in the geographical topic at hand and consistently encouraged to make links to, and build upon, previous learning. Where possible, a cross-curricular approach enables them to reinforce and enrich their understanding (links to Art and D.T. projects for example).
Through the school’s virtual platform, Google Classroom, use is also made of a variety of on-line resources such as those from the Geographical Association, LGFL and Google Earth.
Fieldwork is an integral part of the Geography provision at Glebe. It should offer pupils the opportunity to experience first-hand some of the fundamental skills of the subject as well as reinforce their understanding of their class-based learning. Fieldwork is used by pupils as a tool throughout the curriculum to continuously evaluate their questions and explore different aspects of the curriculum. During the Year 6 residential visit to ‘The Gordon Brown Centre’, pupils map reading skills are tested and reinforced. In addition, as part of the summer term’s ‘Fun and Fitness’ week, all pupils have the opportunity to develop orienteering knowledge and skills.