Intent and Rationale
Our geography curriculum is knowledge rich. This means the knowledge children will gain has been carefully specified and ordered so it coherently and builds over time. Elements are aligned with the school’s history curriculum to. This provides further opportunities to deepen and develop understanding.
This approach means that the knowledge children will be taught has been identified, in each year group, in each unit and in each lesson. As children work through the curriculum they will know more and understand more about the UK, Europe and the world. This rigorous approach, covering and going beyond the requirements of the National Curriculum, leaves nothing to chance. Whilst there are valuable links to history which deepen understanding, the geography curriculum can operate independently as a closed system which doesn’t depend on vocabulary or knowledge being provided from outside of school. This is important to us as we have high levels of children who speak English as an additional language and high levels of disadvantaged children and we appreciate that this could mean they have anything from poor/little exposure to English language right up to absolutely no exposure. We appreciate that many families including our disadvantaged and EAL pupils do enjoy rich exposure to English and develop good cultural capital through home and community. However, it is of the highest priority that we also appreciate many of our children simply don’t get this and to provide a curriculum which has dependencies on these factors would be to further disadvantage them. As such you will see our curriculum develops broad foundations in KS1 and then moves swiftly through three core strands which build upon these foundations and each other: Spatial sense, the UK and the world.
Conceptual understanding is at the heart of our curriculum. Children will learn about key geographical concepts such as place, space, the environment and interconnection. Over time, working through an essential process of elaboration, children will add to their conceptual understanding with many examples of geographical knowledge in context. Children will become more skilled at answering questions such as; what is it like to live in this place? What are the challenges of this environment? How have people changed this landscape over time? Children will gain an understanding of what geographers do, what they look for and what they may say about a place. They will discover explorers such as Roald Amundsen and Captain James Cook. They will look at the migration of both animals and people, studying the impact migration and colonialism has had on places such as Australia.
Each year our geography curriculum begins with a spatial sense unit that explicitly teaches geographical skills such as locating places on a map, positioning items on a map, using symbols in a key, interpreting scale, reading climate graphs, identifying locations using co-ordinates, interpreting population data, identifying elevation on relief maps and more. The spatial sense units for each year group are positioned at the beginning of the year to explicitly teach skills which will then be used in context throughout the rest of the year as children apply those skills to learn more about people, places and the environment. The spatial sense units build on prior knowledge before moving children on as the level of challenges increases from year to year. In Key Stage One the Spatial Sense units require children to undertake fieldwork and use observational skills to study the geography of their school and the surrounding environment. The aim of the spatial sense units is to build children’s geographical literacy so that they are able to use an atlas, maps and geographical data with ease to answer questions they may have about the world.
Every year children will study at least one unit of British geography. As with the rest of the geography curriculum, children’s knowledge and understanding of British geography builds incrementally from year to year. This begins with a general understanding of the countries of the UK, children then study units that focus more closely on areas of the UK including the South West, the South East, Yorkshire and Humberside and the Midlands. When studying these areas, children look at the defining physical and human characteristics of the regions, key topographical features such as hills, mountains, coasts and rivers, how the landscapes and environments have formed over time and how they are used today.
In years two, three and four, children will study units of European geography that introduce regions of Europe, climate, trade, industry, landmarks, physical features and contrasting environments. Children will interpret a range of geographical information including maps, diagrams and climate graphs. Comparisons will be made between places in Europe and the local area. Areas studied include Mediterranean Europe, Eastern Europe and Western Europe. Studying Europe in detail will not only help children to understand the people, places and environment in the regions, but will provide foundational knowledge for their studies in other subject areas, for example their studies of the Vikings in History.
Alongside their study of the UK and Europe, children will extend their knowledge beyond these regions to study world geography. When studying world geography, children will focus on places such as North and South America, Africa, Australia, New Zealand and the South Pacific Islands. Applying their knowledge and understanding of the globe, latitude, longitude, the hemispheres and time zones, children will describe and understand physical geography of countries and continents including biomes, vegetation belts, rivers, mountains, volcanoes and earthquakes. They will consider a range of human geographical features such as settlements, land use, trade links and natural resources.