Geography - Intent, Implementation and Impact

Curriculum Intent – how we have planned our geography curriculum

The study of geography involves our pupils exploring the relationship and interactions between people and the environments in which they live and upon which they and all life on Earth depends.  Many of the pupils who now attend our school will live to see the next century and inhabit a world of 11 billion people.  The many opportunities and challenges that will arise during their lifetime will be very much about geography at personal, national and global scales.  What we intend pupils to learn in geography reflects this throughout the curriculum. 

Being a small village school, we want the children to be excited about the possibilities of what the world has in store for them to explore and experience. Children should leave Belton with a sense of their place in the world, both culturally and physically, and a desire to enquire into the world around them. We want to ensure that the children can be the best they can be and become responsible, confident individuals who are equipped for the future.

In particular we have established a school curriculum plan for geography as an entitlement for all pupils that is:

  • Aspirational in terms of instilling in our pupils a desire to achieve the highest levels of success through providing them with the opportunities to excel in terms of their acquisition of long-lasting knowledge and understanding and mastery of core geographical skills.  Such high aspirations are clearly identifiable in the progressive and increasingly challenging objectives of the schemes of work of each enquiry, which define what the pupils will know, understand and be able to do. We want them to develop lively, enquiring, healthy minds and independent learners.
  • Logical, relevant, broad and balanced in terms of the areas of subject content we have selected which reflect the guidance of and are commensurate with the demands of the National Curriculum.  For example, we have ensured that content includes an even proportion of physical and human investigations such as the effect of rivers on the landscape and the impact of the rise of megacities in the world.  Consideration has been given to making certain that our geography curriculum maintains relevancy and topicality through including enquiries that engage pupils in studying issues such as climate change, flooding and trade;
  • Sequenced to ensure that pupils can build on previous knowledge and understanding as they tackle more complex and demanding enquiries.  For example, at Key Stage 1 pupils observe and record the distinctive geographical features of the local area of the school and compare and contrast them with a similarly sized area around a school in Borneo.  At Key Stage 2 this knowledge and understanding is both consolidated and extended as pupils investigate the nature of environmental change in their local area and reach judgements as to the cost and benefits such change brings.  Similarly, the understanding gained and concepts explored through an enquiry on the impact of earthquakes at Lower Key Stage 2 are revisited and extended when the pupils study the impact of living on a volcanic island in Iceland at Upper Key Stage 2; •
  • Progressively more challenging Years 1 through 6 both in terms of the complexity of the subject knowledge we want our pupils to acquire and also the critical thinking skills we support them to utilise to ensure they understand the significance of that knowledge. These anticipated outcomes in knowledge and understanding and skills acquisition are detailed in the objectives of the schemes of work of each enquiry which have been carefully thought about for a mixed age curriculum.  In terms of the geographical techniques we want our pupils to master as they progress through the school our curriculum planning has been informed by our identification of the coverage required at Key Stage 1, Lower Key Stage 2 and Upper Key Stage 2.  These are integrated into our half termly enquiries to ensure adequate coverage through the curriculum;
  • Built upon and has continuity with the provision for geography established in the Early Years Foundation Stage and in particular that which addresses the knowledge and skills expectations of the People, Culture and Communities Early Learning Goal;
  • Inclusive in terms of delivering the same curriculum to all of our pupils irrespective of specific learning needs or disabilities and differentiating where necessary through, for example,  in class support, providing different learning environments, alternative learning activities and assessment outcomes.

As a small and non- diverse village school our geography curriculum is also designed to enable pupils to: grow in their global understanding of different cultures, to challenge stereotypes and to appreciate diversity.

Underpinning our whole curriculum and in order to develop high levels of social and emotional intelligence, all pupils progressively learn to develop knowledge and skills in order to be able to be, resilient, reflective, collaborative, curious, imaginative and committed to learning. This is embedded through our use of learning powers.

Implementation – how we teach our geography curriculum

Our Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) are early adopters of the new EYFS. Our youngest pupils will experience provision linking to Understanding of the World. Learning will include the use of simple maps, exploring the natural world as well as learning about people, culture and communities. Pupils will learn Geography through playing, exploring, active learning, creating and thinking critically (the Characteristics of Effective Learning). There are many opportunities for cross curricular learning, such as linking Geography to Science when learning about the seasons.

In Key Stages 1 and 2, a rolling programme is in place to ensure that the Geography topics are taught to all pupils during each Key Stage, taking account of the mixed-age structure of our classes. At Belton Primary School, we use the Connected Geography Scheme of Work to deliver the National Curriculum for Geography throughout Key Stage 1 and 2. The scheme of work is well-sequenced, with a clear progression in knowledge, skills, concepts and vocabulary and links to other curriculum subjects. The scheme of work provides resources to support teaching and learning in Geography. Geography is taught discretely once per week in alternate terms (a total of 3 enquiries per academic year). We plan an opportunity within each session to revisit geographical knowledge, skills and understanding that may need further consolidation or to use new knowledge to enforce prior skills.

Our school has some mixed-age classes; the class structures vary from year to year so our long term plan has been designed to be flexible. A rolling programme is in place to ensure that all Geography topics are taught to all pupils during each key stage. Schemes of work make explicit links to Geography topics studied in previous years and key stages so that children are able to make connections and strengthen their Geographical knowledge.

We adopt an enquiry focused approach to learning and teaching in geography which develops our pupils as young geographers.  Through enquiry our pupils not only build subject knowledge and understanding but become increasingly adept at critical thinking, specialised vocabulary and their grasp of subject concepts.   We structure learning in geography through big question led enquiries about relevant geographical topics, places and themes.  Our curriculum is therefore ‘knowledge rich’ rather than content heavy as we recognise that if we attempt to teach geographical topics, places, themes and issues in their entirety we restrict opportunities for pupils to master and apply critical thinking skills and achieve more challenging subject outcomes.    We adopt a policy of immersive learning in geography that provides sufficient time and space for our pupils not only to acquire new knowledge and subject vocabulary but also to develop subject concepts and understand the significance of what they have learned. 

In every Geography lesson, it is made explicit to pupils that they are being taught Geography. Specifically named Geography knowledge, skills and understanding are also referred to throughout the enquiries: locational knowledge, place knowledge, human features, physical features, map skills, compass skills and fieldwork skills. It is expected that the pupils will become familiar with these terms as they progress through the school: Each term has its own symbol which is used on displays and in books consistently throughout the schools. 

In addition to this, staff understand that the pupils will progress through transferable learning skills in order to develop as Geographers. For example, pupils in Year 1 will be expected to identify, locate and name. Year 2 will describe and begin to explain. A Geographer in Year 6 will compare, contrast and give reasons in their lessons. These are the specific skills that the teachers will assess. 

Through the use of the Geography Progression Document, teachers can become familiar with previous and subsequent year groups’ content in order to link learning, close gaps and build on previous knowledge. This document assigns age appropriate vocabulary to be taught explicitly in Geography lessons.

Our learning and teaching in geography is both interactive and practical allowing opportunities for pupils to work independently, in pairs and also in groups of various sizes both inside and outside of the classroom.  Learning activities are varied including the use of mysteries, maps at different scales, GIS, geographical puzzles, photographs and drama. 

Similarly, we provide varied and differentiated ways for pupils to record the outcomes of their work including the use of PowerPoint, concept mapping, annotated diagrams, improvised drama and the application of a wide range of writing genres.  Only in this way will knowledge become embedded and ‘sticky’ and ensure that our pupils can build on what they know and understand from one year to the next. 

The schemes of work for each geographical enquiry highlight both the objectives and anticipated outcomes of the investigation.  They are also carefully structured through the use of ancillary questions, to enable pupils to build their knowledge and understanding in incremental steps of increasing complexity until they reach the point where they are able to answer the question posed at the beginning of the investigation. Our learning and teaching in geography also recognises the importance of fieldwork with a number of our investigations involving observation, recording, presentation, interpretation and the evaluation of geographical information gathered outside of the classroom.  

 Impact – how we assess the progress our pupils make in geography

Each enquiry which forms our programme of learning and teaching in geography sets clear objectives and outcomes for the pupils in terms of knowledge and understanding and skills acquisition.  The schemes of work also suggest a range of ways in which the teacher can assess whether a pupil has achieved these outcomes.  We ensure that when assessing our pupils evidence is drawn from a wide range of sources to inform the process including interaction with pupils during discussions and related questioning, day to day observations, practical activities such as model making and role play drama, the gathering, presentation and communication of fieldwork data and writing in different genres.  The outcomes of each enquiry serve to inform the teacher’s developing picture of the knowledge and understanding of each pupil and to plan future learning accordingly.  We do not make summative judgements about individual pieces of pupil work but rather use the outcomes to build an emerging picture of what the pupil knows, understands and can do. 

At the end of each year we make a summative judgement about the achievement of each pupil against the subject learning goals for geography in that year. At this point we decide upon a ‘best fit’ judgement as to whether the pupil has achieved and embedded the expected learning goals, exceeded expectations or is still working towards the goals.  This decision draws upon the professional knowledge and judgement that teachers possess about the progress of each pupil, developed over the previous three terms which allows an informed and holistic judgement of attainment to be made.   Achievement against the learning goals for geography at the end of the year is used as the basis of reporting progress to parents.

Geography in Action
Come and have a look at Geography in action at our school
Websites to help your child with Geography
National Geographic:-
Biomes of the world:-
We undertook a range of activities for National Fieldwork in June. These ranged from comparing the weather between Belton and Florida and creating tally charts of minibeasts in different areas of the school grounds.
Children have also undertaken fieldwork through our weekly forest school sessions through sounds maps, learning about rocks and soils on our grounds and the animals that live there.