Geography Curriculum Map 2023-24

The Geography Curriculum

The curriculum classroom resources are designed to put teachers in the driving seat. These centrally planned resources mean that teachers can focus on preparing lessons for their classes and pupils. The purpose of each resource is clearly outlined, and all the resources support the principles shared in this document. Ultimately, once a teacher downloads and adapts a resource it becomes their lesson.

All resources can be found on the United Learning Curriculum Website.

Principles and Purpose of the Geography Curriculum

Principles and Purpose of the Geography Curriculum

The purpose of the geography curriculum is to inspire curiosity in pupils, and a fascination about the world and its people. Geography provides pupils with knowledge of diverse places, people, resources, and natural and human environments, with a deep understanding of the Earth’s physical and human processes. The geography curriculum prepares pupils for each stage of their academic journey but also the world beyond the classroom by ensuring that young people can think like geographers and use their geographical knowledge to make sense of the world around them.

The following principles have informed the planning of the United Learning curriculum across all subjects:

  • Entitlement: All pupils have the right to learn what is in the United Learning curriculum, and schools have a duty to ensure that all pupils are taught the whole of it.
  • Coherence: Taking the National Curriculum as its starting point, our curriculum is carefully sequenced so that powerful knowledge builds term by term and year by year. We make meaningful connections within subjects and between subjects.
  • Mastery: We ensure that foundational knowledge, skills, and concepts are secure before moving on. Pupils revisit prior learning and apply their understanding in new contexts.
  • Adaptability: The core content – the 'what' – of the curriculum is stable, but schools will bring it to life in their local context, and teachers will adapt lessons – the 'how' – to meet the needs of their own classes.
  • Representation: All pupils see themselves in our curriculum, and our curriculum takes all pupils beyond their immediate experience.
  • Education with character: Our curriculum - which includes the taught subject timetable as well as spiritual, moral, social, and cultural development, our co-curricular provision, and the ethos and ‘hidden curriculum’ of the school – is intended to spark curiosity and to nourish both the head and the heart.

Here we explore these principles in the context of the geography curriculum:

  • Entitlement: The geography curriculum meets and exceeds the requirements of the National Curriculum. It ensures that pupils develop a secure knowledge of a range of places, natural and human environments, with a deep understanding of the Earth’s physical and human processes. The geography curriculum ensures that all pupils understand the world in which they live, regardless of their starting point in Year 7 or whether they take the subject onto GCSE.
  • Coherence: The curriculum takes a thematic approach, where knowledge is acquired, developed over time, and finally applied to places via in-depth case studies. Regional units allow the content covered throughout a year to be revisited, therefore securing the knowledge gained over the course of a year in the context of a particular place/ region.
  • Mastery: Prior knowledge is regularly revisited throughout the curriculum where it is built upon and applied to new contexts. The scheme of work document shows where each lesson fits within the entire curriculum and illustrates how geographical knowledge and skills are secured before moving on. An example of this is how pupils need to be able to explain physical processes before human and physical interrelationships can be accurately explored.
  • Adaptability: Comprehensive teacher notes
‘Why This, Why Now?’
  • The curriculum has been carefully sequenced to introduce pupils to a variety of places, geographical concepts, processes and issues. The thematic approach ensures that knowledge is acquired, developed over time, then applied via in-depth case studies. As pupils’ knowledge and understanding develop within a unit, there are opportunities to apply this understanding via decision-making activities and geographical enquiries. This approach ensures that pupils are given every opportunity to apply their understanding and think like geographers.

Good geography planning should continually ask ‘why this, why now?’. Below are some examples of the curriculum choices that have been made, particularly around curriculum sequencing:

  • Example 1:
    • Year 7 starts with a unit on geographical skills. This ensures pupils are equipped with the skills required (using maps, manipulating data, grid references etc.) to access other areas of the curriculum from Key Stages 3-5 and beyond. Learning how to use OS maps early in Year 7 means pupils are better equipped to tackle Rivers, Geology, World of Work units later in the year but also Coasts in Year 8.
  • Example 2:
    • The Development unit comes early in Year 7 and although the unit is challenging, understanding here is important for future units. For example, when looking at flood hazards (Year 7), or tectonic hazards (Year 8), pupils make links between the development level of a country and the range of impacts/ responses to hazards taken there. Also, when looking at issues such as employment structures and trade (Year 7), or population (Year 8), pupils will make links to the relationships and concepts covered from the Development unit.
    • This unit also helps to develop pupils as global citizens early in their secondary geography experience, by presenting them with an alternative to the single-story representation which they may have for certain countries and continents of the world. Therefore, pupils are better prepared for informed geographical conversations beyond the classroom.
  • Example 3:
    • Year 8 starts with the Coasts unit. This builds on the understanding pupils gained from the Year 7 Rivers unit, as key terms of erosion and deposition etc. are revisited. It also sets pupils up for future units such as Climate Change (Year 9), where pupils make links between sea-level rise and the threats to coastal areas globally. This unit ensures that pupils will know to apply their understanding to the Coasts units in Key Stage 4 and 5. Furthermore, for those that do not continue with the subject into the following Key Stage, it ensures that pupils understand the geographical conflicts and debates associated with coastal areas.
  • Example 4:
    • The second unit in Year 8 is Population. This unit builds on the understanding that pupils gained from the Year 7 Development unit. Pupils revisit key development indicators and then begin to understand how development can influence birth rates, death rates, and population structure. It also sets pupils up for future units, such as Life in an Emerging Country, where pupils will look at how a large youthful population can bring significant economic benefits to countries, as well as the impact of
Teaching the Geography Curriculum

Teaching the Geography Curriculum

The lessons do not follow a single template, as geography can vary widely based upon the concept, knowledge etc. being delivered. However, the following elements will be present over the course of a topic:

The geography curriculum uses the Rosenshine Principles of Instruction because cognitive research (e.g. Kirschner, Sweller and Clark, 2006) suggests that pupils need a large amount of subject knowledge in their long-term memory to become competent at any subject. In geography, pupils are far better equipped to apply geographical thinking to a problem if their working memory is not overloaded with basic memory recall.

  • Daily review: Every unit has a knowledge organiser which supports the teaching of key vocabulary and terminology. Pupils are routinely tested on new vocabulary and terminology during ‘Do Now’ activities and are required to apply the terms in extended written tasks, and when explaining geographical processes or concepts.
  • Guided practice and check for understanding: When introducing new concepts, processes, graphical data etc. this will be done by introducing material in small steps and checking for understanding by asking a range of questions, as well as the use of application tasks. For example, when introducing the physical processes that lead to the formation of a waterfall, the teacher could do so by drawing and labelling a series of diagrams, to show the processes taking place over time. The teacher can check for understanding by ensuring that pupils are labelling their diagrams accurately, and by asking questions such as: ‘name the type of erosion which could be leading to the formation of X’. Similar methods will be used to guide practice when drawing graphs, maps and producing extended responses.
  • Models: Pupils are required to apply new vocabulary and terminology in extended written tasks, and when explaining geographical processes or concepts. Such tasks in the United Learning curriculum resources are supported with model responses, which are annotated against the success criteria. Where appropriate, high- quality models of diagrams and graphical data will be present within lessons, with clear labels, and carefully sequenced explanations.
  • Independent practice: All lessons provide an opportunity for independent practice. This could involve such tasks as explaining the formation of a physical landscape, to writing a report about a geographical issue/ concept in a particular place. Before completing such tasks, pupils will be introduced to the success criteria and with teacher guidance, mark a model response against the criteria. This process ensures pupils are clear about what to do, and as result, a higher success rate is achieved.
  • Scaffolds: Where appropriate, scaffolds are provided to support pupil practice and help structure thinking. These can include the provision of essential terminology to use in writing, tabular frameworks to help structure longer response writing, and success criteria to inform self/ peer review during and after a task. In Key Stage 3, teachers will refer to ‘chains of reason’ and P-D-D structures to help support extended responses. In Key Stage 4, the (application), (knowledge), (understanding) approach will help pupils structure their extended responses.

So, When You Walk into a Geography Lesson, What Should We Expect to See?

In Key Stage 3 geography lessons we particularly expect to see:

Assessing the Geography Curriculum

Assessing the Geography Curriculum

Formative Assessment in Geography

Each lesson provides regular opportunities for pupils to undertake formative assessments, allowing teachers to identify the specific things that pupils can and cannot do. Identifying gaps and misconceptions ensure that teachers know when to move on.

Lessons contain a mix of the following formative assessment opportunities:

  • Quizzing e.g., at the start of lessons/ online quizzing platform.
  • The use of clear, quantifiable success criteria.
  • Lessons contain model answers, which are annotated. This allows pupils to apply the success criteria before completing independent practice. As a result, a higher success rate will be achieved.
  • All tasks contain ‘did you get?’ feedback. This means that pupils can self/ peer assess their work as they go.
  • Whole-class marking is encouraged as an efficient and effective way of picking out key themes from extended pupil responses in particular.
  • On occasions (and as signposted via the teacher notes within lessons) the use of mini-whiteboards is encouraged, as well as purposeful circulation, and paired/ group discussions etc.

Summative Assessment in Geography

Each unit has an end of unit assessment which schools are encouraged to complete before moving onto the next stage of the curriculum. This allows teachers to capture what the pupils know, as well as any misconceptions/ gaps in knowledge so they can close these gaps before moving on or in preparation for the end of year assessments.

End of year assessments covering the core units are available for Years 7 to 9 but there is an expectation that all schools complete the end of year assessments. The layout and format mirror the end of unit assessments which reinforces why the pupils should be completing the end of unit assessments throughout the year.

What will be centrally assessed at the end of the year?

  • Year 7: Development and Rivers.
  • Year 8: Coasts, Tectonics and Population (only two units will appear on the paper. Population always appears. From year to year the second section alternates between Coasts and Tectonics).
  • Year 9: Climate Change and Life in an Emerging Country.
  • Assessment duration for Years 7 to 9 – 60 minutes.
  • NB: Geography skills will be included within each unit for each year e.g., map skills, graphical skills, data/ statistical skills etc.
  • NB: Mid-year assessments are available but are optional. Their use will depend upon the amount of curriculum time allocated to geography on an individual, school by school basis. For example, it would be unlikely that a department would be able to complete the mid-year assessments based upon 3x 1hr lessons over two weeks. However, if the department has 4x 1hr lessons or more over two weeks, then they are encouraged to make use of the mid-year assessments.

Recovery and catch-up in geography

Pupils requiring catch up will be identified via the end of year exam data and further end of unit

Progression in the Geography Curriculum

Progression in the Geography Curriculum

Progression between Key Stages

The curriculum has been sequenced to encourage increasing cognitive demand from Year 7 onwards. As pupils progress through the curriculum, expectations around understanding and application increases. Pupils acquire knowledge and the foundations of the subject in Year 7, but in expectations of written responses, the depth of understanding increases year on year. Therefore, by the end of Year 9, pupils should be able to apply their knowledge and understanding, think like geographers, take part in geographical debates, and be able to engage with enquiry in the subject.

As can be seen in Figure 1, in Year 7 pupils will show a basic understanding of their geographical knowledge. By Year 8, this understanding will become more developed, and will be consistently presented in the form of ‘chains of reason.’ By Year 9, pupils will be ready to use their in-depth knowledge and understanding to begin evaluating geographical issues. At this stage, pupils are ready to progress to Key Stage 4, but for those that discontinue their geographical studies, they will still be able to engage with geographical debates and futures outside of the classroom.

The curriculum is progressive, flexible, and provides an opportunity for challenge by depth rather than accelerating through the curriculum. For example, units do not sit neatly within half terms but finish naturally when the teaching cycle and learning process draws to a close.

Progress between Key Stages

Primary to secondary:

Although the National Curriculum in Key Stages 1 and 2 provides a foundation for pupils studying the United Learning curriculum, the coverage and quality from primary can be variable.Therefore, when pupils join a United

Geography Home Learning

In Geography we use the Knowledge Organiser booklet to help students learn key terms and core knowledge for each of our units.  Most units also have online assignments to complete on Seneca Learning.  This platform reminds students of the most important learning and asks quiz questions to check their understanding.  The Seneca assignments will take between 15 and 30 minutes to complete.  Fortnightly knowledge organiser quizzes in lessons allow teachers to track students’ learning and reward those who make progress and score highly. 

KS3 Students who achieve 100% in their Seneca assignments regularly,  will be entered into a competition to attend a weekend residential trip to juniper Hall, Surrey, to participate in team building activities and learn about conservation.

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