“Our rationale for how we teach geography at The Bewbush Academy is to enable our pupils to understand the Connection human beings have with their environments – at personal, local, regional, national and global scales: achieving a Sense of Place.”
In Geography, we follow the Collins’ Primary Connected Geography Curriculum. Upon careful evaluation of the scheme, we felt its key principles aligned with many aspects of our curriculum driver: Well-being of Body and Mind, particularly the aspects of developing a Sense of Place; Connecting with Others; Learning (developing a thirst for knowledge through an enquiry based curriculum) and Care for Our Planet.
Connected Geography has been very carefully designed and resourced to provide a coherent, progressive and rigorous learning programme for Years 1–6 which engages and motivates pupils and encourages them to see the world through the eyes of young geographers.
Our aim at Bewbush is to provide and embed an engaging curriculum that inspires our pupils to continue their enthusiasm for geographical knowledge. Therefore developing an interest in studying Geography at GCSE and beyond. This then could potentially lead to a lifelong career in Geography.
Outcome focused curriculum
Learning objectives are outcome focused and progressively more challenging for Years 1–6 and reflect what it means for a pupil to get better at geography. We recognise that whilst it is important for pupils to increase and extend their knowledge of the subject it is also vital that they have space and time to develop as geographers.
Left, is an illustration showing the progression of geographical enquiry skills.
These are reflected in our Geography Progression Document).
Core subject knowledge is implicit in each enquiry but this is balanced with adequate time and opportunity for pupils to master key subject skills and outcomes by ‘doing less better’. This ensures progression in both the complexities of content and in terms of pupils applying their knowledge to achieve higher order outcomes as they move through the programme. The eighteen Connected Geography enquiries ensure that pupils are progressively challenged to achieve the following outcomes as they move through the programme. This progression reflects increasing mastery of the subject
The importance of subject vocabulary
Choosing subject content carefully and effectively ‘doing less better’ provides space to ensure that appropriate and specialised geographical vocabulary is introduced and consolidated with our pupils. At the beginning of each unit, our teachers identify ‘Star Words’ to supplement the Core Knowledge previously identified. This is of course not an exhaustive list and teachers may want to add to it as the enquiry process unfolds whilst maintaining a consideration for cognitive load. An important aspect of both continuity and progression is to ensure that time is devoted to thinking about what ‘Star Words’ the pupils have already mastered and how this can be built upon and extended during their time at The Bewbush Academy.
Clear purpose and context to every enquiry
Our rationale for how we teach geography at The Bewbush Academy is to enable our pupils to understand the Connection human beings have with their environments – at personal, local, regional, national and global scales: achieving a Sense of Place. Throughout our curriculum, considerable thought has been given to concentrating on the most relevant and purposeful aspects of the topics, places and themes of the geography content of the National Curriculum so as to provide pupils with a subject base fit for purpose in the 21st century. All geographical investigation is essentially place based and our enquiries provide a comprehensive range of examples at different scales of locations around the world, in line with National Curriculum requirements, to illustrate key geographical concepts.
Key question led and enquiry based learning
Our Geography curriculum does not attempt to teach topics in their entirety as this often leads to cognitive overload rather than enabling pupils to achieve higher order outcomes by interrogating information and applying skills from one context to another. At Bewbush we identify Core Knowledge for each unit of study. This enables children to embed key principles that will stay with them throughout their Primary and Secondary education. We ask big questions about topics, places, themes and issues – questions that are relevant if you are going to live to see the next century.
At Key Stage 1 many of these questions are understandably more tightly defined or closed: ‘Who’, ‘What’, ‘Where’ and ‘When’ questions; but at Key Stage 2 a more open ended approach exists with an emphasis on ‘Why’ and ‘How’ questions. Each enquiry has a key question underpinned by several ancillary or sub questions for the pupils to master in turn as they progress through the investigation.
Before starting any geography enquiry, our teachers begin their units by assessing pupil ‘start points’. They do this through the use of a ‘Learning Map’. In their first lesson, pupils are introduced to the topic of their enquiry and asked two questions: What do you think? and What do you wonder?
Children complete the boxes connected to these questions. As the unit progresses, lesson by lesson, children are encouraged to consider if they can confirm what they thought or wondered; or whether they actually had misconceptions relating to the topic. There is also an opportunity for children to record new learning. Teachers may decide to present this as a whole class Learning Map but, at the very least, all children will have their own individual map showing their journey.
Left, is an example of a learning map proforma.
To end each unit, children take part in a low stakes quiz. Teachers will compile questions (mostly multiple choice) inspired by the core knowledge identified in the planning process, before the unit has been taught.
Throughout the unit, and after the low stakes assessment is completed, teachers track progress on our Core Knowledge Trackers