‘Geography prepares young people with the knowledge, skills and understanding to make sense of their world and to face the challenges that will shape our societies and environments at the local, national and global scales’.
Dr Rita Gardner, Director, RGS-IBG quoted in A Different View (GA, 2009)
At Hadley Wood, we aim to develop children’s sense of place. We teach geography to enable children to gain knowledge and understanding of places in the world (including both political and physical geography) and to increase their knowledge of other cultures. In so doing, they learn respect and understanding of what it means to be a positive citizen in a multi-cultural country.
We also teach geography so that children learn graphical skills, including how to use, draw and interpret maps and to enable children to know and understand environmental problems at a local, regional, national and global scale. Geography, when taught well, should fascinate and inspire children and nourish curiosity. Geography also deepens understanding of many contemporary challenges – climate change, food security, energy choices. As a subject, it impacts upon every aspect of our children’s lives and plays a crucial role in developing caring and understanding citizens of tomorrow.
The National Curriculum sets out the core knowledge and understanding that all pupils should be expected to acquire in the course of their schooling. At Hadley Wood we believe that a core curriculum is not all that pupils should be taught. Although we follow the National Curriculum, we also go beyond what is set out. We use it as a springboard to broaden children’s knowledge of the world, to understand environmental issues, and to engage them in innovative and enjoyable learning that has relevance to their lives while challenging them to think about ‘real world’ issues. We have chosen units, which reflect the needs of our children: units which take them beyond the local area to explore the UK and the wider world, to develop a passion for learning so that they leave us excited about geography as a subject.
As a ‘Values’ school, we encourage children’s commitment to sustainable development and an appreciation of what ‘global citizenship’ means. We also support the development of a variety of other skills, including those of enquiry, problem solving, computing, investigation and how to present conclusions in the most appropriate way.
How we plan for and teach Geography:
Although we make meaningful links to other curriculum areas, we believe that children should see geography as a subject in its own right. When planning our curriculum, we have thought about its distinctive character as a discipline and ensured that we have woven the concepts that are fundamental to geographical thinking into our curriculum. Skills needed to be a geographer are taught progressively. Concepts are built upon, learning is revisited and children’s locational knowledge is built on year on year. Geography is taught every over 3 half terms ensuring that the children complete three units over a year. Teachers are clear about what they need children to learn and how this builds on prior learning using the Hadley Wood “Building Blocks” approach. We draw on the expertise of the scheme Oddizzi to ensure write our own our units that are well planned and use this resource to develop our teachers’ subject knowledge.
Field work is a statutory part of the national curriculum and is undertaken on a regular basis. Our geography curriculum ensures children engage regularly with the outside world and develop skills in meaningful and current contexts. First hand experiences are really important for our children at Hadley Wood Primary School. Fieldwork ensures are children are engaging with the world around them, managing risks, navigating real landscapes and gathering data for real purposes. Through our geography curriculum, we have thought about key themes that run through units. These include sustainability, connectivity and community. These are revisited over time and add to the cohesiveness of our curriculum and support our children with being confident, capable and caring citizens.
To further enhance our geography curriculum we provide all pupils with access to Forest School, enabling pupils to develop resilience and a questioning mindset about nature around them. As a school we are lucky to have access to the Hadley Wood Association woodland and wild meadow to further enrich pupils geographical experiences in our local area.
How we evaluate learning in geography:
The impact of our geography curriculum can be seen in work in children’s Humanities books. Our rich geography curriculum is also evident in the texts that we share with the children e.g. Kensuke’s Kingdom in Year 6, our working walls, class assemblies where children share their knowledge with their parents and it is woven through our English curriculum.
‘Big Question’ sheets are shared with pupils at the start of each unit, which outline what they will be learning, how this builds on previous learning and what the next steps in learning are. Leaders identify key assessment targets and children self-assess against these. The curriculum overview outlines the enquiry questions – that the children will investigate and answer during their learning. When teachers start new units, they recap on prior learning and use our threads to deepen children’s understanding and knowledge of geography. The opportunity to evaluate and reflect on the learning is planned for regularly to enable the children to see how their learning is progressing. The teacher uses mini assessments, including flashbacks to ensure learning is being retained. At the end of each unit the children have the opportunity to showcase their learning by answering the big question that has been studied throughout the unit to showcase the progress in knowledge and skills.
Our big question assessments and pupil voice shows that pupils acquire knowledge and understanding over time and have developed a love of learning.
Below are some quotations from our pupils on how they feel about our geography curriculum:
Savannah says,” I love learning about geography and new places. In Year 1 we learnt all about our local area, it made me feel like part of our community and made me want to look after it better. Now when I see litter I like to pick it up. I also like to use the recycling bins as it helps look after our planet.”
Arya says, “In Year 4 we learnt about the impact of deforestation. First we used our map skills to locate South America, Brazil and where the Amazon was. It was interesting to realise all of the rainforests were near the Equator. We drew comparisons between the locations of rainforests and volcanoes, which we learnt about in Year 3. We also thought about deforestation and the impact on the environment and wrote to a big company about how they should not build a factory in the location of a rainforest. In order to help the planet recover from climate change we should protect our rainforests and think about the products we buy. Another way to protect our environment is through the litter picking and taking pride in our school environment, we can all do our bit to protect our planet both locally and globally.”