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Russell Lower School

Geography

Our subject lead for geography is Mrs Beirne.
 
The aims for our geography curriculum taken from the National Curriculum
The national curriculum for geography aims to ensure that all pupils:
  • develop contextual knowledge of the location of globally significant places – both terrestrial and marine – including their defining physical and human characteristics and how these provide a geographical context for understanding the actions of processes
  • understand the processes that give rise to key physical and human geographical features of the world, how these are interdependent and how they bring about spatial variation and change over time
  • are competent in the geographical skills needed to:
    • collect, analyse and communicate with a range of data gathered through experiences of fieldwork that deepen their understanding of geographical processes
    • interpret a range of sources of geographical information, including maps, diagrams, globes, aerial photographs and Geographical Information Systems (GIS)
    • communicate geographical information in a variety of ways, including through maps, numerical and quantitative skills and writing at length.
Intent

At Russell, we are geographers! We want our children to love geography. We want them to be curious about the world we live in, and to develop a desire to learn more about it that will remain with them as they grow up. We want them to have no limits to what their ambitions are and grow up wanting to be cartographers, town planners, conservationists or weather forecasters. 

The geography curriculum has been carefully planned and sequenced through the use of our milestone documents so that our children develop their geographical capital year on year. We want our children to remember their geography lessons in our school, to cherish these memories and embrace the geographic opportunities they are presented with! We aim for our children to leave Russell with a secure understanding of human and physical processes, and the interaction between these. We want them to love the world we live in, understand that it is constantly evolving and changing, and to begin to feel the responsibility we all have to protect it.

Throughout their time at Russell, pupils are able to build on and deepen prior learning year by year. This begins in the EYFS where our youngest learners explore their understanding of the world. They do this by making observations in our school environment and the local area and then comparing this to other places in the world. This is then built on throughout the year groups, for example in year 1 children learn to observe and record daily and seasonal weather patterns in their immediate environment and then go on to use this knowledge and vocabulary in year 2 to make comparisons between the UK and Kenya. By the time children are in Year 4 they are able to confidently discuss the human and physical geography of our local area and the wider UK, and then compare this with a range of places around the globe, such as Italy and Russia.

The geography curriculum promotes curiosity and a love and thirst for learning. It is ambitious and empowers our children to become independent and resilient – like all curriculum areas. Careful consideration is made to develop children’s cultural capital each year, such as when children explore the favela communities of Brazil in year 3. Opportunities are provided to discuss the divide between housing for the wealthy and less fortunate which is explored in more detail through artwork.

We want to equip our children with not only the minimum statutory requirements of the geography National Curriculum but to prepare them for the opportunities, responsibilities and experiences of later life. For example, children in year 4 are able to gain real life experience collecting live data of the pollution in their local area. They were able to immediately see the impact our human actions have on the environment we live in. They were fascinated to discover high levels of pollution in the air that they breathe and noticed how this impacted the colour of the buildings nearby and the condition of the plants. This was a great practical way for children to reflect on their actions in terms of the way they travel to school and how to help protect our town for their own future.

Implementation 

During 2019-2020 our Geography curriculum was carefully redesigned focussing on curriculum sequencing to ensure skill progression from lesson to lesson and year to year with a focus on deepening and embedding key learning, knowledge and skills. Year group milestone documents have been created in order to support the above and assessment within the subject.

We have developed year group and subject specific curriculum plans which identify when the different subjects and topics will be taught across the academic year. The vast majority of subjects are taught discretely however staff make meaningful links across subjects through themes. For example, in year 3 where learning around the human and physical geography of volcanoes and earthquakes in the Autumn term is linked to science work on rocks.  

Within Geography we focus our teaching on the four main areas of subject content outlined within the National Curriculum; Location knowledge, place knowledge, human and physical geography and geographical skills and fieldwork. These core areas of learning are revisited year on year where pupils progressively build their skills and knowledge and can link prior skills and knowledge to new learning to deepen their learning which is supported by the development of our Geography milestones.

Within all lessons we are working towards Rosenshine’s 17 Principles of Effective Instruction and use of the Great Teaching Toolkit. Short-term plans set out the learning objectives, success criteria and key vocabulary for each lesson, identifying engaging activities and resources which will be used to achieve them.

Within the lessons, prior learning from the area of focus and previous knowledge, understanding and skills are consolidated through re-cap and reinforcement to ensure children can make meaningful links between previously taught skills/knowledge and current learnt skills/knowledge. For example, year four learn to describe where the UK is located, and name and locate countries and cities of the UK (London, Birmingham, Manchester, Glasgow and Newcastle) as well as being able to identify some key human and physical features and land use following on from their learning in year three of being able to name and locate countries and some cities of the UK (London, Birmingham, Manchester, Glasgow and Newcastle). 

Questioning, modelling and feedback are used to support the teaching and learning process, ensure progression within every lesson and aid assessment.

As part of our Geography curriculum we also provide opportunities, visits, visitors and activities across the course of the year. Regular fieldwork opportunities mean that children are able to explore the local area and see real-life geographical processes in action, such as measuring pollution levels and observing weather changes. The children were very enthusiastic about participating in National Fieldwork Week last year and this has inspired us to plan for more of these outdoor learning opportunities.

Post Lockdowns we have focussed on Barry Carpenter’s 5 levers; routine, structure, friendship, opportunity and freedom which has resulted in various adaptions and restructuring of the curriculum over the last two years to ensure children are still accessing a well-rounded and rich Geography curriculum.

Long and medium term plans
Milestone example
Further milestone documents for all year groups are available, on request, to demonstrate our skill progression.
Impact

In order to measure the impact of our Geography curriculum we use a range of formative and summative assessment in all lessons such as:

  • Questioning
  • Pupil, staff voice/questionnaires
  • Observations/learning walks/drop ins
  • Analysis of our assessment tool linked to milestone documents/National Curriculum for each year

Assessment information is collected frequently and analysed as part of our monitoring of teaching and learning cycle. This process provides an accurate and comprehensive understanding of the quality of education in Geography as well as indicating areas for development.

 

Academic outcomes and impact:

For this year we are aware of the following outcomes for Geography:

Early Years:

Understanding the World 91.1% expected July 2023 and within that:

The Natural World 92.2% expected July 2023

People, Culture and Communities 92.2% Expected July 2023

The average of % assessed is currently 90% ARE+ which is 16% higher than July 22. Greater depth is currently an average of 20% which is 7% higher than July 2022. This shows that we have successfully closed the gaps caused by the impact of Covid 19 and children continue to make very good progress.

 

During the academic years 2019/20, 2020/21 and 2021/22, significant areas of the geography curriculum were not able to be covered due to various periods of lockdown.  Following this, we identified gaps in the children's learning and ensured that these were prioritised as part of the recovery curriculum.  Additional activities, such as taking part in National Fieldwork Fortnight, were planned to ensure the children were able to explore geography outside of the classroom.  This hands-on experience was something that was missing during the Covid pandemic.  As a result, children in all year groups have made good progress, and outcomes are now higher than pre-Covid levels.

Our geography curriculum was looked at in detail during our November 2022 Ofsted inspection, and received very positive feedback in terms of curriculum coverage, lesson planning, teacher subject knowledge and children’s enthusiasm for the subject. 

National Geography Fieldwork Fortnight

Throughout the weeks 26th June to 7th July, we took part in 'National Fieldwork Fortnight'.  This is a national event that encourages schools across the country to get outside and take part in Geography fieldwork.  The theme this year was 'ENVIRONMENT' and so we planned our fieldwork around this idea. We thought about:

How do humans affect the natural environment?

What is in our school environment? How do we look after it?

What is in our local environment? How do we look after it?

Which cities around the world are the most eco-friendly? What can we learn from them?

Each year group took part in their own fieldwork activities, taking their learning outside the classroom.  The children loved the opportunity to be real Geography explorers!