“The study of geography is about more than just memorising places on a map. It’s about understanding the complexity of our world, appreciating the diversity of cultures that exists across continents.”
“It seems to me that the natural world is the greatest source of excitement; the greatest source of visual beauty; the greatest source of intellectual interest. It is the greatest source of so much in life that makes life worth living.”
Subject Leader: Mrs Lucy Harrison
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 really 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 of the Geography curriculum chosen?
At Abbeyfields, geography is taught through specific units of work. This allows coverage of the National Curriculum objectives for Geography and the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) framework. 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 Abbeyfields we plan each subject area, 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 our planning documents there are opportunities for differentiation, in order to meet the needs of all learners.
How do we teach Geography at Abbeyfields?
A long term plan for Geography 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 from the National Curriculum according to the relevant key stage and taught alongside the key skills and 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 discrete teaching sessions, they are explicitly told that today they are going to be ‘geographers.’ They are then reminded of the key skills that they will learn, use and develop within this subject.
In Geography these are:
We are learning to:
- find and name places on maps / globes.
- say what places are like.
- say how places are similar or different.
- ask and answer questions.
- say how a place has changed.
In addition to discrete teaching in Geography, opportunities and links are made to this subject throughout the year. For example, links to the Science curriculum are made within the study of the water cycle and living things and their habitats in Year 4, within the study of rocks in Year 3 and within the study of weather and seasonal changes in Key Stage 1. Opportunities and links to other subjects, including Maths and History, are also exploited throughout the year.
National and global geography news is regularly discussed in class through the use of Newsround in Key Stage 2, e.g. volcanic eruptions, climate change and finding out about other countries and cultures.
Teaching Geography in the Early Years
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 across the whole school.
Our curriculum drivers are central to our curriculum. How do we promote reading, vocabulary acquisition, holistic education and diversity?
Our geography curriculum allows Abbeyfields children to find their place in the world and equips them with the skills and knowledge to ensure they are responsible citizens in their school as well as the local and wider global community.
Appropriate age-related texts, both fiction and non-fiction, are used across the school to support the learning of geography and are accessible to children in their classroom. These are carefully selected using the Schools Library Service.
At Abbeyfields children are introduced to a range of new vocabulary which has been carefully sequenced to ensure progression, challenge and embed prior learning. 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 the diversity of the world, including cultures, communities and traditions. They learn about how their actions can impact the world in which we live today, as well as in the future.
Relationships are promoted as children work collaboratively, listen to and question the ideas of others. Children are expected to develop their independence in carrying out fieldwork, developing and sharing their own ideas and questions as well as listening to and valuing the thoughts and ideas of their peers.
What wider opportunities are provided for our children?
Children have the opportunity to participate in regular visits to places, such as Wallington Hall and Gardens and Carlisle Park in Morpeth. Visits around the locality and participating in local events, allows them to question where they live and make comparisons with other places.
Fieldwork is at the heart of being an Abbeyfields Geographer and this is carried out through carefully planned activities. The Outdoor Education Classroom is used to support and enhance the teaching of the Geography curriculum, particularly the fieldwork and geographical skills objectives, in a practical and engaging way. Fieldwork enables the children to develop a true sense of place and become curious about the world around them. This also develops children’s investigative skills to ask questions about where they live.