At Alston Primary School, our high-quality geography curriculum aims to develop children’s curiosity and understanding of the world around them and instill in them the desire to find out more. Children will learn to explore their world geographically by: asking geographical questions; assessing and critically evaluating potential answers to those questions; making reasoned judgements based on evidence; understanding and empathising with the views of others; considering possible actions/reactions and their consequences.
The geography curriculum at Alston Primary School uses the National Curriculum as a basis for its content and framework. The Rising Stars scheme and the National Geographic Association where it fits, are used to support teachers where needed.
Having mastered the powerful geographical knowledge identified by our school, children moving on to secondary school will be able to: recognise that people perceive situations and places differently; to value the importance of local context in understanding the relevance of wider global connections; to have a sense of citizenships and justice rooted in our British Values, which gives confidence to challenge and support different viewpoints.
The National Curriculum has clear end points for the end of KS1 and KS2. Children progress from developing knowledge of the United Kingdom and their own locality in KS1 to learning about Europe and North and South America as well as more in-depth knowledge of their locality in KS2. Topics within KS2 have been sequenced in a way that supports children’s development of schema and ideas. For example, Y3 learn about biomes, Y4, contrast North and South America etc.
We use knowledge organisers to help our children remember the powerful knowledge and key vocabulary identified in our curriculum and are committed to ensuring all children master it. Retrieval practice is key to achieving this goal and is incorporated into our day-to-day teaching. With this in mind each topic has a significant person / event that forms a golden thread throughout the teaching and learning and it reflects the diverse backgrounds of the pupils at Alston Primary School and beyond. This builds upon cultural capital whilst enhancing pupil engagement and experiences.
Our local area is utilised to support the teaching of geography, specifically geographical enquiry. Birmingham is the second largest city in the UK. There has also been much regeneration of the city, some of which has been within our locality.
Geography is primarily taught through direct, explicit instruction, practice and then feedback as research shows that this is the most effective and efficient way of teaching new concepts and skills. Guided, independent and retrieval practice, as described by Rosenshine, are used to ensure children remember the key knowledge and are able to use this in activities that require deeper thinking.
The demonstration of good subject and curriculum knowledge is a requirement in the DfE teaching standards. The Geography Leader ensures through CPD, meetings with teachers that teachers have the required level of expert knowledge so that explanations are clear and accurate, and children's misconceptions are anticipated and addressed as they arise.
Discussion (both pupil to pupil and pupil to teacher) has an important role in the development of geographical ideas. Effective questioning by the teacher is key to allow pupils to practise new knowledge and to help them make links between new material and prior learning (Rosenshine). Essentially, through these opportunities for talk, key vocabulary, and so core knowledge, is truly mastered.
Knowledge organisers set out the powerful knowledge, core vocabulary and big ideas that all children are expected to master. The first lesson for each unit of work is used to review the ideas mastered in previous units, ready for their development in the new one. Opportunities for retrieval practice are included in geography lessons and weekly knowledge review lessons to ensure knowledge is transferred into long-term memory. Retrieval activities may require children to remember learning from the previous lesson, previous topic or even previous year to ensure the retrieval strength of powerful knowledge is high.
Formative assessment is essential in the implementation of the geography curriculum to ensure that all children are developing the declarative and procedural knowledge needed. Effective questioning, plays a fundamental role in checking for understanding and ensuring misconceptions are quickly addressed. Learning questions are used in lieu of learning objectives or outcomes to provide scope and curiosity and this is underpinned by posing a key enquiry question throughout each topic.
Formative assessment (William 2011) is used in geography to support and promote deep learning. Specific recall activities like quizzes, are used to enable teachers and children to monitor the depth of understanding of core procedural and declarative knowledge and the strength of its retrieval.
Currently no performance data must be registered with the DfE. Data is not collected in the same way as for other subject areas. Data for geography is generated through teacher knowledge of the pupils’ understanding gained through AFL strategies. Teachers make judgements on whether children have understood the learning opportunities.
Pupils’ work, in written and photographic forms, is used to secure and demonstrate children’s learning. It informs teacher assessment, both formative and summative, and is used by subject leaders as part of the monitoring process. Children record their work in their geography books.
The subject leader talks to pupils about their learning as part of the monitoring process. Children’s books and knowledge organisers are used to guide discussion and provide the subject leader with the information required to measure how much of the powerful knowledge and core vocabulary has been remembered and understood.