Curriculum Design at St Thomas’ Catholic Primary School
Curriculum Area: Geography
Curriculum Leader: Mrs Scott
Geography is an integral part of our curriculum at St Thomas’ and we aim to motivate and inspire children through clearly sequenced schemes of learning so they develop a love of learning in geography. We aim to develop a curiosity and fascination about the world that the children live in and help them to enjoy learning about different global communities and their relationships between these people and their landscapes. Through our curriculum, we equip children to be Global Citizens: to develop an awareness of the wider world and their place within it, encourage them to take an active role in the community and work with others to make our planet more peaceful, sustainable and fairer. We hope that our children will become passionate about the planet and become actively involved in protecting the environment.
Children need to be taught about the complexity of the world they live in. Geography is key to this as it ensures children have an understanding of the world around them, its environments, places near and far, and the processes that create and affect them.
Whilst Geography is taught discretely in school, as we recognise the importance of the subject in its own right but through our school’s curriculum vehicle approach we understand the import role it has to play in strengthening the pupils’ comprehension across other subjects.
Geographical concepts of place, space, scale, interdependence, physical and human processes, environmental impact, sustainable development, cultural awareness and diversity have been used to structure our knowledge and skill progression across the school.
Our curriculum is designed so that substantive and disciplinary knowledge, concepts and units are carefully sequenced for progression and depth both horizontally, over year groups, and vertically, across year groups, allowing children to build on prior learning and prior skills.
For example, the curriculum has been designed to ensure sufficient time is given to pupils in foundation and Key Stage 1 to learn and embed key geographical components, for example, pupils’ focus considerably on their place knowledge. This allows them to secure knowledge at a meaningful level, it is built up over time to allow children to develop knowledge with specific, relatable concepts that enable them to combine different components to gain a fuller conceptual appreciation.
Each unit has also been carefully selected and placed in the curriculum map to also take into account the maturity of the children, their skills and experiences. For example, in Early Years, children have early geography opportunity embedded thorough our Understanding of the World curriculum, which is designed to promote exposure to locational, place, environmental knowledge as well as early geographical skills and fieldwork. For example, by working to expose children to directional and locational information and providing experiences that enabling them to grasp positionality using concepts of near and far, left and right, and behind and in front. We recognise the importance for children to secure the concepts and language by the end of the Reception Year.
Key Stage 1 and 2: children over time develop substantive knowledge with specific, relatable concepts to aid recall of knowledge and to support our children in gaining an understanding of geographical disciplinary knowledge. This curriculum over time is structured so that children have clear direct knowledge within each lesson, are taught each step of the procedure, with scaffolding carefully removed to support children in being able to make more complex connections, practice skills and critical evaluation to lead to automacity and greater long-term memory retention.
The subject rationale clearly reveals that pupils develop ‘automacity’ ie being able to retain key knowledge as well as complete practical subject skills; both components are practised over time starting from the foundation stage and developing in Key Stages 1 and 2.
As they progress into KS2, pupils go through the process of ‘internalisation’ whereby they re-encounter direct knowledge and start to make connections independently and build in complexity and opportunities such as using prior knowledge to pose geographical questions to help form geographical enquiry and carry out geographical investigations – ‘to think like a geographer’ and to go beyond the limitations of their own experience.
You will see that we have carefully planned the curriculum to take account of our mixed-age classes. This ensures that children learn geography in a carefully sequenced pattern and that progress is made from year to year.
In Geography, we implement an inclusive curriculum that meets the statutory requirements of the National Curriculum, incorporating the four main areas of learning at each key stage: place, location, human and physical and geographical skills and fieldwork.
At the beginning of each Geography unit, children demonstrate their prior knowledge, which helps to inform planning and teaching. A series of stimulating lessons are planned, with clear knowledge and skills-based learning objectives and subject-specific vocabulary. Post-learning tasks are planned to demonstrate progress, knowledge and understanding. Teachers assess learning in geography against knowledge and skills-based learning objectives within unit overviews.
Our curriculum is delivered through highly effective ‘quality first teaching’. The scheme is ‘knowledge rich’ and provides significant opportunities for enrichment, including outdoor learning, inspirational visitors and geography fieldtrips. Our aim is to bring geography alive!
Our Geography curriculum promotes children’s Spiritual, Moral, Social and Cultural development, ensuring that they are reflective and responsible citizens. Fundamental British Values are actively promoted in geography lessons in order to prepare the children for life in Modern Britain.
The Early Years Foundation Stage Curriculum supports children’s understanding of geography, people and communities through the planning and teaching of ‘Understanding the World’. Geography is effectively taught through their wider curriculum lessons and through their enhanced learning provision and environment. Children learn about features of their own environment such as school, home, community and their village through first-hand experiences and learn how environments may differ through the sharing of books, stories, poems, small world play, role play and visits. Children enjoy the valuable experiences gained from trips to places within their local community. Children are given time to discuss, comment and ask questions about what they observe about the world around them and are encouraged to be active learners and explore their interests further.
Our well-planned Geography curriculum ensures that children are competent in the geographical skills needed to collect, analyse and communicate data, and to interpret a range of geographical sources, including maps, globes and aerial photographs. Children are able to communicate information in a variety of ways including maps, numerical and quantitative skills and a range of literacy skills.
Through the breadth and depth that our Geography curriculum offers, our children are provided with a broad knowledge of the world they live in, and understand, as responsible citizens, how they need to care and preserve the planet for future generations.