Geography

  • 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 encourage individual departments to amend and change their curriculum resources, case studies etc. to meet the needs of their own classes, and to ensure that local geographical issues are considered.

     

     

    • Representation: A diverse range of places, people and environments are encountered within the curriculum which helps pupils to develop a broad and balanced view of the world. The curriculum ensures a fair representation of the places studied to avoid a single story and to broaden pupil understanding of different people, places, and environments. Support materials allow teachers to adapt curriculum resources to best suit the context of the pupils and communities which they serve.
    • Education with character: The curriculum provides opportunities for pupils to share, reflect and learn about the different lived experiences for people at a local, national, and global scale. It also engages pupils with the big geographical debates of today and the future. This develops a fascination with place studies and allows pupils to take part in informed geographical conversations beyond the classroom/ curriculum.
  • ‘Why This, Why Now?’

    ‘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 population growth on climate change, energy issues and urbanisation (all Year 9 units). As pupils move into Key Stage 4, the knowledge gained from the Population unit supports their understanding of units such as Resource Management, Urban Issues, Natural Hazards etc. This unit especially encourages pupils to be global citizens, who can take part in informed geographical debates regarding the population issue beyond the classroom.
    • Example 5:
      • Climate Change is the first unit in Year 9. This unit builds on the knowledge gained from many earlier units within the curriculum, such as concepts and issues from the units of Development, Rivers, World of Work (Year 7), Coasts, Population, Ecosystems and Weather and Climate (Year 8). This unit also sets pupils up for future units, such as Life in an Emerging Country, Energy and Issues of Urbanisation, wherein the latter, focus on urban sustainability is linked to climate change.
    • Example 6:
      • Throughout the curriculum, important places are revisited between units. In the Year 7 Development unit, for example, pupils develop a sense of place regarding Haiti and the factors which have influenced its development. In Year 8, they revisit Haiti to look at the impacts of the 2010 earthquake, and in Key Stage 4, they return to Haiti again, where they apply this understanding to the response methods to the 2010 earthquake and the impacts of aid. Through this approach, pupils begin to develop an in-depth understanding of the place and can begin to look more closely and effectively at the complex interrelationships between the physical and human world, thus bringing geography to life.
  • 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 A (application), K (knowledge), U (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:

    • Starter activities (‘do now’) test core knowledge and promote fluency with key terminology and the use of place-specific information.
    • The use of high quality, challenging Figures in every lesson, which pupils will engage with and use routinely to apply their knowledge. Figures can include graphs, maps, diagrams, photographs, data tables etc.
    • Effective AfL, with a focus on pupils writing in ‘chains of reason’ (P-D-D) in Key Stage 3 and, by Year 9 pupils actively evaluating the geographical knowledge and understanding which they have gained as the curriculum has progressed.
    • Opportunities for independent practice that are supported with effective models. These models ensure pupils know how to apply the success criteria, but also to support self and peer assessment once the task is completed.
    • Opportunities for pupils to think like geographers, for example making geographical decisions and reaching conclusions based upon the information which has been presented to them during a lesson, or over the course of a unit.

     

    Note that geography knowledge is not linear due to the diverse nature of topic areas. Often a pupil may perform at a higher standard when engaging with physical geography when compared to human geography or vice-versa.

    Regardless of this, over time we should expect to see a greater depth and complexity to the work completed in pupils’ books.

     

    In Key Stage 4 geography lessons we particularly expect to see:

     

    • Starter activities (‘do now’) test core knowledge and promote fluency regarding key terminology and the use of place-specific information.
    • The use of high quality, challenging Figures in every lesson, which pupils will engage with and use routinely to apply their knowledge and understanding. Figures could include graphs, maps, diagrams, photographs, data etc. All lessons will have an opportunity for pupils to complete an exam question based upon a Figure.
    • Effective AfL, with a focus on pupils writing in ‘chains of reason’ and the AKU approach to extended responses.
    • Regular opportunities for independent practice will focus on extended exam questions. These are supported by effective models so that pupils know how to apply the mark scheme before they start a task, resulting in a higher success rate.
    • Pupils routinely using and interrogating geographical data and statistics. Where appropriate, pupils will manipulate data and will understand when to use modes of central tendency.

     

    In Key Stage 5 geography lessons we particularly expect to see:

     

    • Starter activities (‘do now’) test core knowledge and promote fluency regarding key terminology and the use of place-specific information.
    • The use of high quality, challenging Figures which pupils will be able to analyse with greater complexity than Key Stage 4. Figures will be more complex and will include graphs, maps, diagrams, photographs, data etc.
    • The length and complexity of independent practice will increase in Key Stage 5, with a continued focus on extended exam questions. The AKU approach will still be present however, it will be used with greater complexity and fluency.
    • Pupils routinely using and interrogating complex geographical data and statistics. Where appropriate pupils will manipulate data and will understand complex statistical measures such as Spearman’s rank, standard deviation, Chi-squared etc. Therefore, preparing pupils to introduce such methods into their NEA.
    • Opportunities for challenging, a high-quality discussion between pupils, as well as pupils referring to well- organised materials, notes, and work from previous lessons to support their learning.

     

    The geography curriculum is designed to provide appropriate challenge for all learners. This curriculum is ambitious because it is designed to ensure that all pupils, regardless of background or ability, will succeed in the subject. Curriculum resources include training and guidance for teachers on how to adapt the resources to account for the pupils they serve. PowerPoints for each lesson contain comprehensive teacher notes and, where required, differentiated task suggestions. For example, amended success criteria, alternative cloze exercises, writing frames, challenge tasks etc.

     

    The wide range of Figures in lessons provide opportunities to engage all groups of pupils by providing a visual prompt to support their knowledge and understanding, as well as providing real-life examples of the concepts they are exploring.

     

    Furthermore, each unit is supported with a comprehensive Scheme of Work. Rather than simply describing what activities the pupils complete in each lesson, these documents outline the pedagogical thinking that has gone into the lesson. They provide an explanation for: ‘Why this? Why now?’ This allows teachers to connect the knowledge being delivered in an individual lesson to the wider curriculum, which should help deepen and challenge the knowledge and understanding of all pupils, and as a result, create a change in long-term memory.

     

    Additional Subject Specific Skills:

     

    • Fieldwork: This is an integral part of teaching and learning in geography. Ofsted is clear on this matter: ‘Schools should recognise the value of fieldwork for improving standards and achievement in geography.’ It is advised that each year group has an opportunity to complete work “in the field.” Evidence of such activities will be present in long-term departmental plans. Resources have been developed to support schools in completing fieldwork, from projects which could be completed on the school grounds, to examples within the local area. In Key Stage 4, fieldwork skills are embedded into lessons where appropriate, so that fieldwork does not feel like a ‘bolt on’ to the subject. Teachers should think carefully about how they can engage pupils with fieldwork within the classroom. For example, when showing an image of the upper course of a river the teacher could ask:
      • ‘If we were carrying out fieldwork here, what would we need to consider as part of a risk assessment?’
      • ‘How could we measure the speed of the river?’
      • ‘What kind of key question could we ask if we were visiting a location such as in the Figure?’
    • Thinking like a geographer: In geography, pupils must be given the opportunity to apply their knowledge and understanding, so that they can take part in informed geographical debates of today and tomorrow. Therefore, at the heart of this curriculum is the aim that pupils have regular opportunities to ‘think like geographers’. Throughout the units, there are opportunities for pupils to make geographical decisions, review stakeholder opinions, assess and evaluate different geographical issues etc.
    • Using maps: Using maps is a fundamental skill in geography. Teachers should take every opportunity to engage pupils with a range of different maps, both within the classroom and in the field. Pupils should have regular experiences using Ordnance Survey maps, topographical and other thematic mappings, and aerial and satellite photographs. Pupils should also have opportunities to engage with Geographical Information Systems (GIS) to view, analyse and interpret places and data.

     

    Homework:

     

    • Key Stage 3/4 homework to be focused on the Knowledge Organisers. Pupils may complete “look, cover, write, check” activities as well as other self-quizzing strategies.
    • Key Stage 3 lessons include optional extended homework tasks, where applicable.

    At Key Stage 4, pupils complete an extended AO3 style question at least once every 2 weeks. Booklets of extended questions for the different specifications can be found on the curriculum website.

  • 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 A (application), K (knowledge), U (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:

    • Starter activities (‘do now’) test core knowledge and promote fluency with key terminology and the use of place-specific information.
    • The use of high quality, challenging Figures in every lesson, which pupils will engage with and use routinely to apply their knowledge. Figures can include graphs, maps, diagrams, photographs, data tables etc.
    • Effective AfL, with a focus on pupils writing in ‘chains of reason’ (P-D-D) in Key Stage 3 and, by Year 9 pupils actively evaluating the geographical knowledge and understanding which they have gained as the curriculum has progressed.
    • Opportunities for independent practice that are supported with effective models. These models ensure pupils know how to apply the success criteria, but also to support self and peer assessment once the task is completed.
    • Opportunities for pupils to think like geographers, for example making geographical decisions and reaching conclusions based upon the information which has been presented to them during a lesson, or over the course of a unit.

     

    Note that geography knowledge is not linear due to the diverse nature of topic areas. Often a pupil may perform at a higher standard when engaging with physical geography when compared to human geography or vice-versa.

    Regardless of this, over time we should expect to see a greater depth and complexity to the work completed in pupils’ books.

     

    In Key Stage 4 geography lessons we particularly expect to see:

     

    • Starter activities (‘do now’) test core knowledge and promote fluency regarding key terminology and the use of place-specific information.
    • The use of high quality, challenging Figures in every lesson, which pupils will engage with and use routinely to apply their knowledge and understanding. Figures could include graphs, maps, diagrams, photographs, data etc. All lessons will have an opportunity for pupils to complete an exam question based upon a Figure.
    • Effective AfL, with a focus on pupils writing in ‘chains of reason’ and the AKU approach to extended responses.
    • Regular opportunities for independent practice will focus on extended exam questions. These are supported by effective models so that pupils know how to apply the mark scheme before they start a task, resulting in a higher success rate.
    • Pupils routinely using and interrogating geographical data and statistics. Where appropriate, pupils will manipulate data and will understand when to use modes of central tendency.

     

    In Key Stage 5 geography lessons we particularly expect to see:

     

    • Starter activities (‘do now’) test core knowledge and promote fluency regarding key terminology and the use of place-specific information.
    • The use of high quality, challenging Figures which pupils will be able to analyse with greater complexity than Key Stage 4. Figures will be more complex and will include graphs, maps, diagrams, photographs, data etc.
    • The length and complexity of independent practice will increase in Key Stage 5, with a continued focus on extended exam questions. The AKU approach will still be present however, it will be used with greater complexity and fluency.
    • Pupils routinely using and interrogating complex geographical data and statistics. Where appropriate pupils will manipulate data and will understand complex statistical measures such as Spearman’s rank, standard deviation, Chi-squared etc. Therefore, preparing pupils to introduce such methods into their NEA.
    • Opportunities for challenging, a high-quality discussion between pupils, as well as pupils referring to well- organised materials, notes, and work from previous lessons to support their learning.

     

    The geography curriculum is designed to provide appropriate challenge for all learners. This curriculum is ambitious because it is designed to ensure that all pupils, regardless of background or ability, will succeed in the subject. Curriculum resources include training and guidance for teachers on how to adapt the resources to account for the pupils they serve. PowerPoints for each lesson contain comprehensive teacher notes and, where required, differentiated task suggestions. For example, amended success criteria, alternative cloze exercises, writing frames, challenge tasks etc.

     

    The wide range of Figures in lessons provide opportunities to engage all groups of pupils by providing a visual prompt to support their knowledge and understanding, as well as providing real-life examples of the concepts they are exploring.

     

    Furthermore, each unit is supported with a comprehensive Scheme of Work. Rather than simply describing what activities the pupils complete in each lesson, these documents outline the pedagogical thinking that has gone into the lesson. They provide an explanation for: ‘Why this? Why now?’ This allows teachers to connect the knowledge being delivered in an individual lesson to the wider curriculum, which should help deepen and challenge the knowledge and understanding of all pupils, and as a result, create a change in long-term memory.

     

    Additional Subject Specific Skills:

     

    • Fieldwork: This is an integral part of teaching and learning in geography. Ofsted is clear on this matter: ‘Schools should recognise the value of fieldwork for improving standards and achievement in geography.’ It is advised that each year group has an opportunity to complete work “in the field.” Evidence of such activities will be present in long-term departmental plans. Resources have been developed to support schools in completing fieldwork, from projects which could be completed on the school grounds, to examples within the local area. In Key Stage 4, fieldwork skills are embedded into lessons where appropriate, so that fieldwork does not feel like a ‘bolt on’ to the subject. Teachers should think carefully about how they can engage pupils with fieldwork within the classroom. For example, when showing an image of the upper course of a river the teacher could ask:
      • ‘If we were carrying out fieldwork here, what would we need to consider as part of a risk assessment?’
      • ‘How could we measure the speed of the river?’
      • ‘What kind of key question could we ask if we were visiting a location such as in the Figure?’
    • Thinking like a geographer: In geography, pupils must be given the opportunity to apply their knowledge and understanding, so that they can take part in informed geographical debates of today and tomorrow. Therefore, at the heart of this curriculum is the aim that pupils have regular opportunities to ‘think like geographers’. Throughout the units, there are opportunities for pupils to make geographical decisions, review stakeholder opinions, assess and evaluate different geographical issues etc.
    • Using maps: Using maps is a fundamental skill in geography. Teachers should take every opportunity to engage pupils with a range of different maps, both within the classroom and in the field. Pupils should have regular experiences using Ordnance Survey maps, topographical and other thematic mappings, and aerial and satellite photographs. Pupils should also have opportunities to engage with Geographical Information Systems (GIS) to view, analyse and interpret places and data.

     

    Homework:

     

    • Key Stage 3/4 homework to be focused on the Knowledge Organisers. Pupils may complete “look, cover, write, check” activities as well as other self-quizzing strategies.
    • Key Stage 3 lessons include optional extended homework tasks, where applicable.
    • At Key Stage 4, pupils complete an extended AO3 style question at least once every 2 weeks. Booklets of extended questions for the different specifications can be found on the curriculum website.

     

    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 assessments. All pupils will likely have some gaps from lockdown learning that will require a form of catch up. It is likely that there is considerable variation in the amount and nature of the curriculum that needs catching up for different pupils.

     

    Therefore, we do not recommend catch up units at the beginning of the 2021-22 academic year as they are unlikely to be well-targeted. The general approach we recommend is for schools to continue to teach the curriculum and formatively assess relevant prior knowledge as the curriculum progresses and address these gaps throughout the course of the year.

     

    • One method for doing this in Key Stage 3 is via the lesson-by-lesson fluency quizzes/ ‘do now’ and associated activities that teachers will plan based on these.
    • Whole class feedback will likely identify common gaps that can be closed in the review lessons.
    • Pause point/ buffer lessons can be mapped into the curriculum throughout the year, to reteach fundamentals. Where appropriate, these should emphasise extended responses focused on ‘chains of reason’ (P-D-D) in Key Stage 3 and the AKU approach in Key Stage 4, as writing and exam technique is an area that online learning may have neglected.

    Geography departments are encouraged to identify the knowledge, concepts and skills which may have been impacted due to lockdown and identify where such themes reappear within the curriculum. This will ensure that teachers can identify where they may need to spend more time securing background knowledge, which in normal circumstances pupils may already be secure with. For example, pupils in Year 7 may have completed the Rivers unit during the lockdown, therefore they may not be as secure with concepts related to erosion and deposition when compared to previous cohorts. This may mean that teachers need to spend more time focusing on such concepts when completing the Year 8 Coasts unit than they may have done in previous years. This should ensure that gaps are closed, and clear, explicit interleaving is taking place.

  • 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 assessments. All pupils will likely have some gaps from lockdown learning that will require a form of catch up. It is likely that there is considerable variation in the amount and nature of the curriculum that needs catching up for different pupils.

     

    Therefore, we do not recommend catch up units at the beginning of the 2021-22 academic year as they are unlikely to be well-targeted. The general approach we recommend is for schools to continue to teach the curriculum and formatively assess relevant prior knowledge as the curriculum progresses and address these gaps throughout the course of the year.

     

    • One method for doing this in Key Stage 3 is via the lesson-by-lesson fluency quizzes/ ‘do now’ and associated activities that teachers will plan based on these.
    • Whole class feedback will likely identify common gaps that can be closed in the review lessons.
    • Pause point/ buffer lessons can be mapped into the curriculum throughout the year, to reteach fundamentals. Where appropriate, these should emphasise extended responses focused on ‘chains of reason’ (P-D-D) in Key Stage 3 and the AKU approach in Key Stage 4, as writing and exam technique is an area that online learning may have neglected.
    • Geography departments are encouraged to identify the knowledge, concepts and skills which may have been impacted due to lockdown and identify where such themes reappear within the curriculum. This will ensure that teachers can identify where they may need to spend more time securing background knowledge, which in normal circumstances pupils may already be secure with. For example, pupils in Year 7 may have completed the Rivers unit during the lockdown, therefore they may not be as secure with concepts related to erosion and deposition when compared to previous cohorts. This may mean that teachers need to spend more time focusing on such concepts when completing the Year 8 Coasts unit than they may have done in previous years. This should ensure that gaps are closed, and clear, explicit interleaving is taking place.
  • 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.

     

    Figure 1: Expectations regarding writing in geography.

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Key:

    • K= Knowledge
    • U= Understanding

     
     

     

     

    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 Learning school in Year 7, they will complete the bridging unit of Geography Skills. This should ensure that all pupils have the basic skills to access other areas of the curriculum.The Key Stage 3 curriculum ensures that pupils have the knowledge and understanding of the traditional pillars of the subject so that by the time they reach Key Stage 4 they can apply this knowledge to begin to tackle some of the complex questions, and inter-relationships explored. For example, if pupils did not have knowledge of sea defenses from Key Stage 3, then they would struggle to evaluate their effectiveness in Key Stage 4.Teachers should be mindful of Figure 1, as a focus on writing will help to ease the transition from Key Stage 3 to 4. If pupils write in ‘chains of reason’ fluently and can begin to evaluate different geographical issues by the time they enter Key Stage 4, they should be prepared to tackle the complex extended questions which play a significant role in Key Stage 4 assessment.The Key Stage 3 curriculum ensures that pupils have a deep understanding of the world around them, at a range of scales. This should ensure that pupils who decide to discontinue their geographical studies will do so as globally aware citizens, able to engage in the geographical debates of today and tomorrow. This is the entitlement that the curriculum should bring for all pupils.There are many reasons to take GCSE Geography, such as:Due to the multidisciplinary nature of geography as a science, the curriculum has strong links to the wider school curriculum. For example, the subject provides many cross-curricular opportunities with links to maths (numeracy, data handling, data presentation), English (literacy, decision making) and major science concepts (climate change, tectonics, geology).The curriculum focuses on aspects of being a good citizen, through issues such as sustainability.Geography allows pupils to engage with contemporary global issues of the present and the future.Due to the multidisciplinary nature of the subject, geography provides a good basis for pupils who wish to study subjects such as economics, sociology, psychology, archaeology etc. in Key Stage 5 and beyond.The Key Stage 4 curriculum ensures that pupils have the knowledge, understanding, and critical thinkg skills to be successful at Key Stage 5. For example, pupils will be well versed in creating well-formulated extended responses, with running assessment.Teachers should be mindful that the NEA is a big step up from Key Stage 4 in terms of conducting and applying fieldwork. It is important that pupils are exposed to some of the complex statistical measures through day-to-day teaching before starting their NEAs e.g. Spearman’s rank, standard deviation etc. Effective teaching will weave NEA aspects throughout the Key Stage 5 curriculum.There are many reasons to take A-Level Geography, such as:Geography is a subject that will appeal to people who are interested in pressing global issues and enjoy learning about people and their societies, economies, cultures, and the environment.Geography has strong links with other subjects across the natural and social sciences, as well as the humanities. This means that geography can open doors to a range of degrees at university, including subjects such as economics, sociology, psychology, archaeology etc. Geography is well-placed to be studied as a joint or combined degree for those who wish to take geography beyond Key Stage 5.A 2019 IFS report placed geography among the top subjects for graduate earnings.Geography allows pupils to complete an NEA on an issue in which they are interested. This requires spending time collecting data in the field and producing a report on the findings.There are many reasons to take geography on to a university level such as:At this level, there is more encouragement from the second year onwards to narrow the focus of study to the aspects of the subject that most resonate with individual pupils. For example, beyond physical and human geography you may choose to study environmental management, oceanography, urban planning etc.Geography is a subject that can be combined with other subjects at a degree level. Examples of combined courses include geography and: politics, geology, economics etc.People with geography degrees are amongst the highest earnings for graduate earnings.Geography graduates are attractive to employers and the qualification gives opportunities to embark on a range of different careers. For more information on different career opportunities, go to: https://www.topuniversities.com/pupil-info/careers-advice/what-can-you-do-geography-degreeFor more information about geography at university, go to: https://www.ucas.com/explore/subjects/geographyTo ease the transition into university, teachers should maintain extremely high expectations when it comes to independent learning. In addition to this, teachers should emphasise the importance of reading beyond and around the content studied in class. Specifically, pupils should be encouraged to seek alternative examples and case studies to embed in their extended writing and they should keep up to date with geography in the news.Geography has strong links with other subjects across the natural and social sciences, as well as the humanities. These strong links mean that geography is well-placed to be studied in a joint or combined degree. Geographers are often engaged with pressing global issues and enjoy learning about people and their societies, economies, cultures, and the environment.Geography careers offer opportunities to develop solutions to some of the most pressing issues for modern society, including climate change, natural disasters, overpopulation, urban expansion, and multicultural integration. Due to the broad base of this academic degree, geography as a discipline offers a good and wide variety of employment prospects.There are many careers within geography. Geographers could be employed as an environmental consultant, cartographer, town planner, geographical information system officer, conservation officer, landscape architect, teacher/ lecturer, politics or non-profit organisations, accountancy etc.The benefits of a geography degree continue well beyond graduation. A 2019 IFS report placed geography among the top subjects for graduate earnings. The data, derived from Department for Education statistics, showed that female geography graduates earn over 10% more than the average female graduate, while male Geographers are more than 2% above par.

The Geography Curriculum Website

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.

The school is part of United Learning. United Learning comprises: UCST (Registered in England No: 2780748. Charity No. 1016538) and ULT (Registered in England No. 4439859. An Exempt Charity). Companies limited by guarantee. VAT number 834 8515 12.
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