“People must feel that the natural world is important and valuable and beautiful and wonderful and an amazement and a pleasure.”
“Surely we all have a responsibility to care for Our Blue Planet. The future of humanity, and indeed, all life on Earth, now depends on us.”
Our curriculum intent for Geography reflects the purpose and aims of the national curriculum by helping our pupils to develop a greater understanding and knowledge of the world, as well as their place in it. By following the guidance set our Chris Quigley Curriculum Companion - our Geography curriculum enables children to develop knowledge and skills that are transferable to other curriculum areas - and which can, and are used, to promote their spiritual, moral, social and cultural development. We aim to develop an awareness of the diverse nature of the UK and global populations and the contributions different societies, communities and individuals have made to human understanding.
Geography is, by nature, an investigative subject, which develops an understanding of concepts, knowledge and skills. We seek to inspire in children a curiosity and fascination about the world and its people which will remain with them for the rest of their lives; to promote the children’s interest and understanding of diverse places, people, resources and natural and human environments, together with a deep understanding of the Earth’s key physical and human processes.
Our curriculum distinguishes between subject topics and threshold concepts. Subject topics are the specific aspects of subjects that are studied. Threshold concepts tie together the subject topics into meaningful schema. The same concepts are explored in a wide breadth of topics. Through this ‘forwards-and-backwards engineering’ of the curriculum, pupils return to the same concepts over and over, and gradually build understanding of them. The threshold concepts are:-
- Locational knowledge
- Human features
- Physical features
- Maps and information
For each of the threshold concepts three milestones, each of which includes the procedural and semantic knowledge pupils need to understand the threshold concepts, provide a progression model. Knowledge categories in each subject give pupils a way of expressing their understanding of the threshold concepts.
The curriculum is sequenced in long and medium term plans to help pupils build cumulative knowledge towards agreed milestones. The most important subject content is organised through threshold concepts that organise new knowledge systematically and ensure a logical progression.
Geography is taught every term throughout the year, so that children can achieve depth in their learning. Teachers have identified the key knowledge and skills of each topic and consideration has been given to ensure progression across topics throughout each year group across the school. At the beginning of each topic, children are able to convey what they know already as well as what they would like to find out. This informs the programme of study and also ensures that lessons are relevant and take account of children’s different starting points. Proof of progress (POP) tasks show the depth of each pupils understanding either 'basic, advancing and / or deep'. As a 'School of Mastery' - we feel this assessment model provides no ceiling to a pupils' learning.
Our curriculum design is based on evidence from cognitive science; three main principles underpin it:
- Learning is most effective with spaced repetition.
- Interleaving helps pupils to discriminate between topics and aids long-term retention.
- Retrieval of previously learned content is frequent and regular, which increases both storage and retrieval strength.
In addition to the three principles, we also understand that learning is invisible in the short term and that sustained mastery takes time. Our content is subject specific. We make intra-curricular links to strengthen schema. As a 'School of Enquiry' Continuous provision, in the form of daily routines, replaces the teaching of some aspects of the curriculum and, in other cases, provides retrieval practice for previously learned content.
As a 'School of Oracy' SEND, EAL and disadvantaged learners are supported in Geography at St William’s. This can be either individually and/or through small group work such as our pre-teaching of vocabulary following the guidance of a Speech & Language Therapist who works with both teachers and learning assistants in school. This ‘pre teaching’ helps to support their understanding of subject specific / technical vocabulary. The dialogic teaching approach helps all children to achieve their full potential with the use of ‘Tower Hamlet Speech Bubbles’ helping SEND pupils to structure sentences that demonstrate their understanding. Whilst also allowing pupils to structure discussions and debates using relevant geographical facts and the language of argument.
Because learning is a change to long-term memory, it is impossible to see impact in the short term.
We do, however, use probabilistic assessment based on deliberate practice. This means that we look at the practices taking place to determine whether they are appropriate, related to our goals and likely to produce results in the long run.
We use comparative judgement in two ways: in the tasks we and in comparing a pupil’s work over time.
We use lesson observations to see if the pedagogical style matches our depth expectations.