Geography is an essential part of the curriculum, it provides a means of exploring, appreciating and understanding the world in which we live and how it has changed over time. Geography explores the relationship between the Earth and its people through the study of place, space and environment. It contributes to the cultural, social, spiritual and moral life of children as they acquire knowledge of a range of different cultures and traditions, and learn tolerance, acceptance and understanding of other people and environments. Geography is the subject in which pupils learn the skills of understanding a locality and how and where people fit into its overall structure. Developing geographical skills is essential as children live in a world that is wide open to them. With opportunities to travel and work in different cities and countries across the world, pupils need to use maps, charts and other geographical data. The opportunities for the children to carry out geographical enquiry are also of great value.
By the end of Key Stage 2, our children are becoming highly skilled geographers who can see patterns, describe processes and can use a wide range of map skills with confidence. Their enquiry skills will help them to understand more about the natural wonders of the world and the complex interactions between people and the planet. Our children will know what it means to be a steward of the environment (locally and globally) through an understanding of the impacts of their choices and will have respect for the diversity of both humans and the ecosystems that share our amazing planet.
How do we implement Geography within each phase of our school?
Children undertake a broad and balanced ‘Essentials curriculum’ based upon a mastery approach to learning that takes account of abilities, aptitudes and physical, emotional and intellectual development. Through geography, the children learn a range of skills, concepts, attitudes and methods of working.
Geography is taught in reception as an integral part of the topic work covered during the year. We relate the geographical aspects of the children’s work to the objectives set out in the Early Years curriculum which underpin the planning for children aged three to five. Geography makes a significant contribution to the ELG objectives of developing a child’s understanding of the world through activities such as finding out about different places and habitats and investigating our locality.
Key Stage 1
During Key Stage 1, pupils investigate their local area and a contrasting area in the United Kingdom or abroad, finding out about the environment in both areas and the people who live there. They also begin to learn about the wider world. They carry out geographical enquiry inside and outside the classroom. In doing this, they ask geographical questions about people, places and environments, and use geographical skills and resources, such as maps and photographs.
Key Stage 2
During Key Stage 2, pupils investigate a variety of people, places and environments in the United Kingdom and abroad, and start to make links between different places in the world. They find out how people affect the environment and how they are affected by it. Pupils carry out geographical enquiry inside and outside the classroom. In doing this, they ask geographical questions, and use geographical skills and resources, such as maps, atlases, aerial photographs and ICT. Children will develop geographical enquiry skills, including asking geographical questions, collecting and recording information and identifying different views. They will acquire the appropriate practical skills associated with geography, including using suitable vocabulary, fieldwork techniques and maps, plans and atlases. Pupils will use secondary sources of information with accuracy, including aerial photographs, satellite images, etc. As well as making its own distinctive contribution to the school curriculum, geography contributes to the wider aims of primary education. Teachers will ensure that links between subjects are maximized.
How do we measure the impact of our geography curriculum?
Formal and Informal Assessment
Children are monitored on a regular basis to check progress. A range of Assessment for Learning strategies are used, for example peer marking, evaluation, self-assessments, traffic lighting achievement against objectives and success criteria, the use of talk partners and end of unit teacher/pupil evaluation. Through these, both children and adults are able to recognise the progress being made. At Our Lady of the Rosary, assessment is an integral part of the teaching process. Assessment is used to inform planning and to facilitate differentiation. The assessment of children’s work is on-going to ensure that understanding is being achieved and that progress is being made. Marking work will be guided by the school’s Marking Policy, feedback is given to the children as soon as possible, and improvements are made by children with purple pen or pencil (Key Stage 1).
Learning about our local area
Every year group at Our Lady’s spends some time in geography connecting with our local area and region. We recognise the importance of this and how children need to develop a sense of their own place before we can begin to make comparisons with places further afield.
For example: The Cumbria Jam Project
Children are asked to collect a wide range of things that represent Cumbria and make it special to them and put them in a jar to make a ‘jam’. Jars are always unique and creative, filled with a wide range of items and ideas from wool, local slate, recipes for Cumberland sausage, favourite Wainwright walks… and the list goes on!
The great outdoors
Learning outside of the classroom is a key focus at Our Lady of the Rosary and we try to offer opportunities for our children to learn in new environments whenever possible.
Caring for our environment
We believe as stewards of the planet that we must care for the environment and all life on earth. In response to the Laudato Si, we wrote letters to Pope Francis and have our own Eco-council. To support our work in understanding the problems caused by ocean plastic, the children chose to sponsor a turtle through the World Wildlife Fund.
Geography and ICT
We are lucky that all children have access to iPad and chromebooks which enables us to integrate technology and computing into all aspects of our curriculum. An example of this in geography would be where children have designed an animal that is perfectly adapted to the rainforest environment, explaining its key characteristics. Children then made modelling clay versions and created animations of their animal with the rainforest backdrop to make it ‘come alive’.
Spiritual development: Through helping pupils to recognise the beauty and diversity of the world. A geographical awareness helps children understand their place in the world. Geography provides opportunities for children to learn about sites of wonder, or physical features that they might wish to visit in the future, for example the Grand Canyon.
Moral development: Through helping pupils to reflect on how the environment is affected by decisions made by people, so that the children can make informed choices in the future. Through discussion, the children learn to appreciate the moral dilemmas posed by introducing changes to the environment (for example, building a motorway or rail link) and the effects this can have on the surrounding area.
Social development: Through helping pupils to understand the need to consider the views of others when discussing localities, settlements and the environment. Work on a locality in a less economically developed country provides an opportunity to discuss social issues. Fieldwork encourages collaborative projects, making the most of different strengths and interests within a team.
Cultural development: By exploring different settlements, the children can gain knowledge of different cultures, learning tolerance and understanding of their diversity.