“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 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.
Three ‘Threshold Concepts’ - Investigating Places, Investigating Patterns and Communicating Geographically - build geographical conceptual understanding and are repeated many times in each key stage. 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.
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.
Stunning Starts include a visit to the woods in Year 1 for their topic of 'What would you use to build a house?', a visit to the local recyclinf centre in Year 4 for 'What makes St Dennis, St Dennis?' and a visit to a fishing harbour and visit from a local fisherman for the Year 6 topic 'Why is the fishing industry so important to local communities?'
Fieldwork is a key element of our geography curriculum and experiences include exploring teh school's locality in Year 1, expolring how the village of St Dennis and its land use has changed over time in Year 4, and exploring the impact the local fishing industry has on a local village in Year 6.
We have a wide range of atlases, Ordnance Survey maps and globes. We also subscribe to other online resources such as 'Digimap for Schools' to ensure we use a rangeof high quality and up-to-date maps. 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 film clips to inspire children. Within every unit, there is a quiz.
To support learning, 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. These can be found on year groups pages.
Sustainability and the management of the environment is important to us at St Dennis Primary Academy. Therefore, 'the environment and community' 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 stretches beyond their immediate doorstep. Also, to 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 to each big questions every half term.
At St Dennis Primary Academy, we have an Eco Council made up of two children from every year group. These children were elected following a presentation to their class about why they would make a good representative.
The Eco Council meet every week and discuss issues linked to Eco Schools and choose one of these topics to focus on as a project each half term. These topics are biodiversity, energy, global citizenship, healthy living, litter, marine, school grounds, transport, waste and water. They have been instrumental in saving energy across the school and applying for grants to save water. Their work and dedication has resulted in the school achieving the Eco Schools Bronze and Silver Awards. The Eco Council recently discussed their priorities for what they believe should be discussed at the G7 Summit and were interviewed and filmed by BBC Radio Cornwall sharing their ideas for the world’s leaders to listen to. https://www.facebook.com/bbcspotlight/videos/541063290663750 . Most recently, they took part in a local beach clean for the Surfers Against Sewage Million Mile Clean campaign.
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, adaptations and scaffolds that include maintaining an inclusive learning environment, using multi-sensory approaches (including ICT), working with additional adults, managing peer relationships through particular groupings, using a wide range of recording methods, ensuring clear communication for all needs, and allowing for formative assessment by ensuring learning objectives and outcomes are understood by all children and assessment methods are wide ranging so not reliant on writing ability. At the same time, word and sentence level skills are practised developed through geography which impacts on children's writing achievements.
Our geography curriculum is high-quality and 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 on-going learning and children’s understanding of locational and place knowledge, human and physical geography, and how to communicate geographically using technical vocabulary. This takes place before and during a unit through mind maps, KWL grids and quizzes.
- Revisiting previous learning during ‘Memory Master’ time.
- Summative assessment through end of unit Proof of Progress tasks to assess critical knowledge, skills and understanding.
- Images and videos of the children’s practical learning .
- Interviewing the pupils about their learning (pupil voice) with their books.
- Whole class feedback and feedforward of work in books.
How are British Values promoted through geography?
Geography promotes British Values and St Dennis Primary Academy has respect for democracy and the right for all our children to have their voices heard. With oracy underpinning the subject, 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 whose lives are affected by disasters. In Year 3 children learn about volcanoes and in Year 6 they build upon this and 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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