“Geography is a subject which holds the key to our future.” - Michael Palin
"Earth is our home in space, a unique speck in the unimaginably vast cosmos and the only planet in our solar system capable of supporting life as we know it. This little blue planet provides us with all our needs as a species.” – Geography Association
Earth provides us with our needs for today and learning how our actions can influence its future will help children begin to make informed decisions about the way they live their lives now and in the future. We therefore aim to develop the children’s love of the world around them through geography and inspire in pupils a curiosity and fascination for the planet and their place in it for many years to come.
We aim to do this through developing knowledge of the location of globally significant places, including their physical and human characteristics. We also aim to ensure that children understand the geographical processes that bring about physical and human features of the world, how these are interdependent and how they bring about change over time. Whilst observing and studying these, we aim to ensure children are competent in the geographical skills needed to: collect, analyse and communicate with a range of data gathered through experiences of fieldwork, interpret a range of sources and communicate geographical information in a variety of ways.
In order to do this, we follow the breadth of the programmes of study of the National Curriculum for Geography. We use the Chris Quigley structure to ensure we implement a coherently planned geography curriculum underpinned by our drivers. The three ‘Threshold Concepts’ of: Investigating Places, Investigating Patterns and Communicating Geographically, build geographical conceptual understanding and are repeated many times in each topic. Each threshold concept has its own facets of knowledge which help to strengthen these. This enables children to reinforce and build upon prior learning, make connections and develop subject specific language and provides the vertical accumulation of knowledge and skills. Milestones define the standards for the threshold concepts and provide clarity about what is to be learnt in each Key Stage. We also talk about key skills of being a geographer and these are in children’s books as a reminder.
Geography underpins topics and units are planned and presented through a ‘big question’ which encourages an enquiry-based approach. Wherever possible, the school grounds and local area are used for fieldwork to enable children to base learning on first-hand experiences. Children also have a ‘Stunning Start’ to inspire learning and units often involve a visit, or an expert to enhance learning as real life-experiences are a key driver of our curriculum. Community is also important to us at St Dennis Primary Academy, so families are invited to a ‘Fabulous Finish’ to celebrate and share in their children’s learning and successes.
We use Oddizzi to support planning and resourcing, as it provides a wide range of up-to-date resources including interactive maps, diagrams, aerial photographs, an online encyclopaedia, virtual postcards, quizzes and short films clips to inspire children. Within every unit, there is a low stakes quiz to support children’s ability to block learning and increase space in the working memory. To support this, children also have a knowledge organiser in their book and on display with key learning points and maps, diagrams, facts and vocabulary. They also take one home so they can share their learning at home.
Sustainability and the management of the environment is important to us at St Dennis Primary Academy. Therefore, the environment is a key driver of our curriculum because we want our children to have a sense of pride in their local area and understand that the world is beyond their immediate doorstep and develop a sense that their home and the wider world is a wonderful place to live now, and in the future. In addition to the National Curriculum geography learning, we also plan an environmental link in each block of learning, every half term.
Our geography curriculum is ambitious for all pupils. We therefore consider ways of minimising and reducing barriers so that all pupils are included. The areas where we consider varying approaches and adaptations include maintaining an inclusive learning environment, using multi-sensory approaches (including ICT), working with additional adults, managing peer relationships, communication, formative assessment, motivation, and memory or consolidation.
Our geography curriculum is high quality, well thought out and is sequenced to demonstrate progression in knowledge, skills and vocabulary. Children deepen their understanding of the interaction between physical and human processes and how this affects landscapes and environments.
We measure the impact of our curriculum through the following methods:
- Formative assessing of children’s understanding of topic (including vocabulary) before, during and after a unit is taught through a range of methods including mind maps, KWL grids and low stake quizzes
- Summative assessment through on-going learning and Proof of Progress tasks to assess whether understanding of milestones is basic, advancing or deep
- Images and videos of the children’s practical learning
- Interviewing the pupils about their learning (pupil voice) with their books
- Annual reporting to parents of standards across the curriculum
- Marking of written work in books
How does geography link to British Values?
St Dennis Primary Academy has respect for democracy and the right of all our children to have their voices heard. With oracy underpinning the subject of geography, children are actively involved in discussions and are encouraged to express their ideas and opinions whilst showing respect to others. Children explore their own values through debate and discuss how issues, even if they are on the other side of the world, can have vast effects on everyone – this is evident through the Year 4 topic of Rainforests. The school’s Eco Council representatives are elected by their classmates and this group is supporting the growing understanding and development of sustainability across the school, so we are developing global citizens. Through learning about local industry, children understand about how places, people, cultures and economies are interrelated. Children also learn about empathising with people’s lives affected by disasters such as in Year 3 where they learn about volcanoes and in Year 6 where they learn about earthquakes.
How to help your child at home
When out and about in your local area, you can help your child geographically by chatting about local physical features, attractions and activities. You might even like to develop this idea by asking them to provide a tourist guide for their local area for visiting relatives.
On a journey, you can share the road map or map phone app with your son or daughter so they can follow the route while you talk about where you are going. Alternatively, ask them to draw a map of their journey to school or the local shop, including any natural or man-made features along the way.
Holidays are an ideal opportunity to compare the location with their home area — you might ask your child to talk through five similarities and differences, for example. Holidays also provide an opportunity for a museum visit or a trip to a tourist attraction.
Closer to home, use anything at your disposal! Magazines, TV, films and even some computer games can provide your child with a view of distant places. They enable your child to be transported instantly to another place. Prompt their thinking with questions, such as: What might the weather be like in this place? Why might the road have been built where it is? The list of questions is endless and will lead to all sorts of discussions which will really help to develop curiosity about, and understanding of, the world.
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