Our geography curriculum, in a similar way to the history curriculum, is enquiry-based and focused on the key skills that children should learn within the subject. Since the review of the national curriculum in September 2014, our staff have monitored the effectiveness of our curriculum and looked at positive ways to enrich the children’s learning in geography and inspire children to develop a passion for the subject.
The national curriculum states that ‘a high quality geography education should inspire in pupils a curiosity and fascination about the world and its people that will remain with them for the rest of their lives. Teaching should equip pupils with knowledge about diverse places, people, resources and natural and human environments, together with a deep understanding of the Earth’s key physical and human processes.’ As pupils progress, their growing knowledge about the world should help them to deepen their understanding of the interaction between physical and human processes, and of the formation and use of landscapes and environments. Geographical knowledge provides the tools and approaches that explain how the Earth’s features at different scales are shaped, interconnected and change over time.
The national curriculum for geography aims to ensure that all pupils:
Develop contextual knowledge of the location of places, seas and oceans, including their defining physical and human characteristics.
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 and writing at length.
By the end of each key stage, pupils are expected to know, apply and understand the matters, skills and processes specified in the relevant programme of study.
ELG 13 – Understanding the World: People and Communities:
Children talk about past and present events in their own lives and in the lives of family members. They learn that other children don’t always enjoy the same things, and are sensitive to this. They learn about similarities and differences between themselves and others, and among families, communities and traditions.
ELG 14 – Understanding the World: The World:
Children learn about similarities and differences in relation to places, objects, materials and living things. They talk about the features of their own immediate environment and about how environments might vary from one another. They make observations of plants and animals and explain why some things occur, and talk about changes.
Key Stage 1
Pupils should develop knowledge about the world, the United Kingdom and their locality. They should understand basic subject-specific vocabulary relating to human and physical geography and begin to use geographical skills, including first hand observation, to enhance their locational awareness.
Pupils should be taught to:
– name and locate the world’s seven continents and five oceans.
– name, locate and identify characteristics of the four countries and capital cities of the United Kingdom and its surrounding seas.
– understand geographical similarities and differences through studying the human and physical geography of a small area of the United Kingdom, and of a small area in a contrasting non-European country.
HUMAN AND PHYSICAL GEOGRAPHY
– identify seasonal and daily weather patterns in the United Kingdom and the location of hot and cold areas of the world in relation to the Equator and the North and South Poles.
– use basic geographical vocabulary to refer to key physical features, including: beach, cliff, coast, forest, hill, mountain, sea, river, ocean, soil, valley, vegetation, season and weather.
– use basic geographical vocabulary to refer to key human features, including: city, town, village, factory, farm, house, office, port, harbour and shop.
GEOGRAPHICAL SKILLS AND FIELDWORK
– use world maps, atlases and globes to identify the United Kingdom and its countries, as well as the countries, continents and oceans studied at this key stage.
– use simple compass directions (North, South, East and West) and locational and directional language (eg near, far, left, right) to describe the location of features and routes on a map.
– use aerial photographs and plan perspectives to recognise landmarks and basic human and physical features: devise a simple map; and use and construct basic symbols in a key.
– use simple fieldwork and observational skills to study the geography of their school and its grounds and the key human and physical features of its surrounding environment.
Key Stage 2
Pupils should extend their knowledge and understanding beyond the local area to include the United Kingdom and Europe, North and South America. This will include the location and characteristics of a range of the world’s most significant human and physical features. They should develop their use of geographical tools and skills to enhance their locational and place knowledge.
Pupils should be taught to:
– locate the world’s countries, using maps to focus on Europe (including the location of Russia) and North and South America, concentrating on their environmental regions, key physical and human characteristics, countries and major cities.
– name and locate counties and cities of the United Kingdom, geographical regions and their identifying human and physical characteristics, key topographical features (including hills, mountains, coasts and rivers), and land use patterns; and understand how some of these aspects have changed over time.
– identify the position and significance of latitude, longitude, Equator, Northern Hemisphere, Southern Hemisphere, the Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn, Arctic and Antarctic Circle, the Prime/Greenwich Meridian and time zones (including day and night.)
– understand geographical similarities and differences through the study of human and physical geography of a region of the United Kingdom, a region in a European country, and a region within North or South America.
HUMAN AND PHYSICAL GEOGRAPHY
– Describe and understand key aspects of physical geography, including: climate zones, biomes and vegetation belts, rivers, mountains, volcanoes and earthquakes, and the water cycle.
– Describe and understand key aspects of human geography, including: types of settlement and land use, economic activity including trade links, and the distribution of natural resources including energy, food, minerals and water.
GEOGRAPHICAL SKILLS AND FIELDWORK
– use maps, atlases, globes and digital/computer mapping to locate countries and describe features studied.
– use the eight points of the compass, four and six-figure grid references, symbols and key (including the use of Ordnance Survey maps) to build their knowledge of the United Kingdom and the wider world.
– use fieldwork to observe, measure and record the human and physical features in the local area using a range of methods, including sketch maps, plans and graphs, and digital technologies.
A summary of each geography unit of study within Key Stages 1 and 2 under the national curriculum is as follows:
WEATHER/THE SEASONS – (Year 1)
Rather than being seen as an isolated unit, our Year 1 children study the seasons at the appropriate stages over the course of the year. They follow up their autumn term unit on ‘Weather’ with additional learning on seasons and weather as they progress through Year 1. Learning about weather and the seasons is effectively consolidated through other curriculum areas, particularly science. The unit also offers wonderful opportunities in literacy, writing diary accounts, poetry or information texts based on the relevant seasons. Fantastic opportunities through art are also taken, with children producing some particularly beautiful artwork through their art unit on ‘Autumn.’ Parents are warmly encouraged to support the units through valuable family activities such as going for walks amongst the autumn leaves, winter snowfalls or the oncoming of spring. It’s a great idea to get the children to take some photos, which they can bring into school and use to further inspire their learning. It’s also a good opportunity to consolidate important seasonal information, such as the sequence of the seasons and order of the months, so there is plenty of scope for parents to enrich their children’s learning at home.
THE LOCAL COMMUNITY – Summer Term (Year 1)
The infant study on our local community starts with a close look at our school community and then widens to include the Marshalswick area. The children consider their routes to school and think about the shops and amenities that exist within walking distance. As part of the study the class enjoy a walk to The Quadrant, taking in a visit of a local church and getting to meet some key people from within our local community.
MAKING MAPS – Autumn Term (Year 2)
Children are introduced to a range of maps through firstly identifying features on aerial photographs and considering how maps are made. The children then introduce symbols and simple keys, identifying key human and physical features. The unit then looks at how the United Kingdom is made up, identifying the countries, main seas and cities. The children relate this to their own experiences of visiting relatives or going on family holidays within the United Kingdom. They consider routes (and time) for travel, along with regional differences and key geographical features of each country.
OCEANS AND CONTINENTS – Spring Term (Year 2)
The children use the unit to find out about the continents and oceans, and to compare hot and cold locations (such as the North and South poles, and the Equator.) Children become familiar with globes and atlases, and use their experiences of overseas travel to enrich the study. The unit is supported through a wonderful art unit on The Oceans and children compare their own lives in Britain with a deeper understanding of climates and cultures from different parts of the world.
CHENNAI – A CONTRASTING LOCALITY – Summer Term (Year 2)
Our school have developed a fantastic partnership with Bharathi Vidyalaya School in Chennai, India. We received a British Council grant and the Headteacher and former Deputy Headteacher (Tracey Lockwood) visited Bharathi back in July 2012, with a return visit made by the Principle (Mrs K. Alamelu) and Vice Principle (Lakshmi) to St Albans in November 2012. Our schools continue to work together and these visits have given us a great platform upon which to build this unit of study with a contrasting non-European country. The children exchange letters and photographs and find out about the key human and physical similarities and differences between the two countries.
EARLY SETTLEMENTS – Spring Term (Year 3)
The unit goes hand in hand with the history unit covering the Stone Age to the Iron Age. A visit to the Celtic Harmony Centre enriches the study, where the children find out about early settlements, hunting and farming. They consider key human and physical geographical features that informed early settlements, and also have opportunities to make simple maps and models as part of the topic.
RIVERS – Summer Term (Year 3)
The children find out about river systems, and learn appropriate geographical vocabulary to fully describe and understand the course of a river. The project also enables the children to draw comparisons between rivers, including the River Thames and some of the world’s major rivers, such as The Nile, The Amazon and The Mississippi. The children will also get the opportunity to study local rivers, such as The Lea and The Ver, making a visit to a local river in Wheathampstead. Here they carry out a river study and enrich their learning through their art unit on Painting from Nature.
EUROPE (A REGIONAL STUDY) – Autumn Term (Year 4)
Our children study the key similarities and differences of European countries and cultures when compared with the United Kingdom, both in terms of human and physical geography. A highlight of the unit is the children’s collaborative production of their very own ‘Big Book of Europe.’
LIVING PLANET – Summer Term (Year 4)
The unit looks at global issues and sustainability, taking in areas of eco-learning and considering how we can make a difference to our planet. Much of the learning is inspired through David Attenborough’s Blue Planet and has been supported through our school’s decision to apply for the Green Flag Eco-Schools Award as from October 2019.
BRAZIL – Autumn Term (Year 5)
This colourful unit explores the contrast in culture, climate, human and physical geography features between Britain and Brazil. The children explore the contrast between poverty and wealth and enrich the unit of study through creating Brazilian recipes and looking at Brazilian art and culture.
OUR UNITED KINGDOM – Summer Term (Year 5)
The unit is a fantastic opportunity to develop mapping skills, whilst focusing on the counties, main rivers, cities and seas in and surrounding the United Kingdom. The children start from our base in Hertfordshire, look at the home counties and then work outwards, considering the location of key counties and cities. The children use their own experiences of travel to enrich the study and consider various routes and links between different parts of the United Kingdom.
VOLCANOES AND EARTHQUAKES – Summer Term (Year 6)
The children find out about the nature of volcanoes and earthquakes, and vulnerable locations around the world. They enjoy creating models of volcanoes using their geographical knowledge and consider some of the more recent eruptions and events such as earthquakes in places such as Haiti and Mexico. The children also find out about other extreme situations, such as Tsunamis.
MOUNTAINS AND COASTS – Summer Term (Year 6)
For many, this is understandably the highlight of our geography curriculum. Building on from their learning about volcanoes and earthquakes, the children find out about mountains and coasts, and prepare thoroughly for their field week in Snowdonia. The visit includes a walk up the Miner’s Track (Snowdon) and the opportunity to immerse themselves in the beautiful landscape of the Snowdonia National Park. The children plot out their route from St Albans to Snowdonia, and consolidate their learning on their return to school, where they produce an outstanding range of work (enriched through creative writing, technology and art.)