Geography is a valued part of the curriculum, providing a purposeful means for exploring, appreciating and understanding the world in which we live and how it has evolved. Geography explores the relationship between the Earth and its people through the study of place, space and environment. In Geography, pupils learn the skills of understanding a locality and how and where people fit into its overall structure. Geography also encourages children to learn through experience, particularly through practical and fieldwork activities. At St. Mary’s we place particular importance on the understanding and appreciation of the local area. We believe that Tunstall and Stoke-On-Trent have so much to offer and that by learning about the area from a geographical perspective we can foster in the children a sense of responsibility for their locality and also create a desire to venture further afield to explore the wonders of the wider world.
At St Mary’s Primary School, the children follow a concentric curriculum, designed to motivate, engage and inspire the children through a series of learning journeys which we have titled, ‘mini-missions’. Geography focussed mini-missions take place across Key Stage 1 and 2 during the Autumn and Summer term. As well as making its own distinctive contribution to the school curriculum, geography contributes to the wider aims of primary education. Teachers will ensure that links between subjects are maximized during each mini mission.
Our long-term and medium-term plans map out the skills and themes covered for each year group. These plans define what we will teach and ensure an appropriate balance and distribution of work across each year.
We encourage the development of the geographical skills, knowledge and understanding that help our nursery and reception children make sense of their world as an integral part of the school’s work. In the foundation stage, geography makes a significant contribution to developing a child’s ‘knowledge and understanding of the world’ through activities such as exploring and investigating, drawing on their own personal experiences and observing closely using their senses. Age-appropriate software and technology is also used whenever possible.
Key Stage 1
Pupils should be taught about:
- 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, ocean, river, soil, valley, vegetation, season and weather. 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 (e.g. near and far; left and 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 be taught about:
- 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. 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 a 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.
Teaching and Learning
The school uses a variety of teaching and learning styles in geography lessons. Our principal aim is to develop the children’s knowledge, skills and understanding in geography and we use a variety of teaching and learning styles to achieve this. We believe in whole-class teaching methods and combine these with enquiry-based research activities. We believe children learn best when:
- They have access to, and are able to handle artefacts.
- They go on visits to places of geographical interest in order to make and record their observations in the field.
- They have access to good quality books, photographs, maps, atlases and globes.
- Visitors talk about personal experiences of the living in the locality and beyond.
- They listen to and interact with stories from around the world.
- They undertake fieldwork by interviewing family, friends and members of the local community,
- They are shown, or use independently, resources from the internet, and videos.
- They are able to use non-fiction books for research.
- They are provided with opportunities to work independently or collaboratively, to ask as well as answer geographical questions.
The first geography mini mission of each year begins, for every year group, by focussing on the local environment. We believe it is vitally important for the children to understand where they live and how this fits into the wider-world. Fieldwork in the local and surrounding areas is also strongly encouraged. Visits to the local town, settlement workshops and mountain, coast and river studies all take place within the first term of the academic year.
We recognise the fact that we have children of differing ability in all our classes, and so we provide suitable learning opportunities for all children by matching the challenge of the task to the ability of the child. We achieve this through a range of strategies which are differentiated by task, expected outcome and/or support from peers or adults. This is monitored at the end of each geography focussed mini-mission by a book trawl and via lesson ‘drop ins’ during teaching.
Assessment and Recording
At St Mary’s Primary School, assessment is an integral part of the teaching process. Assessment is used to inform planning and to facilitate differentiation. The assessment of children's work is on-going to ensure that understanding is being achieved and that progress is being made. Feedback is given to the children as soon as possible, and marking work will be guided by the school's marking policy.
At the end of each mini mission, each class teacher submits an assessment grid which contains the intended outcomes for that unit of study. Each child is then assessed as working towards the intended outcomes, having achieved the intended outcomes or exceeding the intended outcomes. Each teacher’s assessment is based on a combination of questioning during lessons, observations of independent and group work, evidence produced in mini mission books and a post-unit assessment.
There is a range of age appropriate resources to support the teaching and learning of geography, including the local area, across the school. We have a wide range of text books and interactive boards to access the internet as a class. Children’s books are kept in the Geography section of the school library bus and every half term, the librarian loans books out to each year group. An excellent range of geographical information texts are available from the library bus and can be taken out by both children and teachers.
Visits are planned to enhance learning and provide hands-on experiences. People with an interest, or expertise, in a particular topic or area of geography should be invited into school to work with the children. These might be parents, grandparents, other family members, neighbours or representatives of the local community.
In September 2019, a large-scale map of the world, including labelled continents was added as a playground marking to the Key Stage 1 playground. On the Key Stage 2 playground a large map of the United Kingdom and its largest cities was added. The children are now able to begin their geography mini missions by visiting these maps and looking at how the locality or topic being studied fits into the ‘bigger picture’ of the world.
Roles and Responsibilities
The work of the subject leader is to monitor and support colleagues in the teaching of geography, being informed about current developments and competitions in the subject, and providing a strategic lead and direction for the subject in the school. After each mini mission all staff meet to discuss the learning that has taken place across the school. This both aids progression and promotes the subject amongst staff.