Intent – The vision
Geography is, in the broadest sense, an education for life and for living. Learning through geography – whether gained through formal learning or experientially through travel, fieldwork and expeditions – helps children to be more socially and environmentally sensitive, better informed, and more responsible as citizens. At Holy Trinity Pewley Down, we recognise that the study of this subject can offer children the chance to ‘imagine the journey in another’s footsteps’. As Barack Obama put it, “The study of geography is about more than simply memorising places on a map. It’s about understanding the complexity of our world, appreciating the diversity of cultures that exists across continents. And in the end, it’s about using all that knowledge to help bridge divides and bring people together.”
Through fostering a sense of awe and wonder at the beauty of the world surrounding them, we hope that children can ‘see heaven in the moment’. This recognition of the world as a beautiful, interconnected and interdependent set of ecosystems and communities stimulates a sense of stewardship. Children really care about the world they live in and should be able to ‘embrace the future with hope and confidence’. Many of the pupils who now attend HTPD will live to see the next century and inhabit a world of eleven billion people. The multitude of opportunities, and challenges, that will arise during their lifetime will be very much about geography – personal, local, national and global. Geography helps us understand how past societies and environments developed, which provides the context for the present and helps us to plan for our future. Geography helps us answer the question of "how do we wish to live?" in an informed way. As Michael Palin said, "geography is the subject which holds the key to our future".
As a subject, geography combines scientific and social literacy; it provides a bridging space in the curriculum to bring together the creativity of the arts, the insights of social science and humanities as well as the important principles of natural science methods and practices. It gives students a "big picture" view of the world as well as detailed understanding of natural and social systems and provides students with the ability to translate knowledge across disciplinary fields; a skill that will become increasingly important in the 21st century.
Implementation – How we achieve our goal
We adopt a constructivist paradigm of learning and teaching in geography which enables our pupils to learn as young geographers and to understand the kind of questions that geographers ask of the world. Pupils not only build their substantive knowledge and understanding but become increasingly adept at disciplinary thinking, conceptual understanding and the use of specialised vocabulary and technical terms. Geography is taught through a combination of approaches at HTPD. Our cross curricular approach really enables the children to become immersed in the topic and make links between their learning. This can be seen especially in relation to History. We also recognise the importance of discrete lessons to ensure the full depth and scope of the curriculum is covered.
In the EYFS, under the ‘People Culture and Communities’ and ‘The Natural World’ strands, children begin their geographical journey close to home. They explore the world around them, noticing seasonal changes and features of the school grounds. They then broaden their horizons to learn about London as our capital city and then move on to the rest of the UK. Before long they are learning about environments, food and festivals on a global scale. In Year 1, children revisit their local area, this time building on their understanding and learning to draw maps of familiar places. They too then move on to a national view, learning about some of the features of cities around the UK and comparing these to Guildford. Once they have a taste for exploring, Year 1 traverse the globe in their, ‘Around the World in Eighty Days’ topic, using simple compass directions to help them to navigate their route. In Year 2, these skills are built upon to enable children to describe the location of physical features on a map using increasingly geographical language. The children also undertake an in-depth study of a small town in Australia, comparing it to Guildford both in terms of its human and physical geography.
In KS2, the children have the chance to revisit concepts, each time deepening their understanding. For example, in Year 4 the children learn about rivers. They locate significant world rivers using atlases and learn about their processes and features. They touch upon human use and examples of when this interaction is not so beneficial; for example, when houses built on a flood plain are flooded. Year 4 visit Dapdune Wharf where they undertake fieldwork focused upon the river flow and quality. In Year 5, the human uses of rivers are recapped as part of their History topic on the Egyptians where they can apply what they learnt the previous year. In Year 6, they build upon their knowledge using the Amazon River as their stimulus. Later in the year they carry out field work as part of their residential trip. They collect data about the flow, gradient, width and depth of the river at various stages. This progression is underpinned by a creative, hands-on approach wherever possible. For example, in Year 4, the children create a 3D model of a river course, labelling the features that they have learnt about. Similarly, the subject of contour lines has been brought to life by creating topographic models out of play dough, thus allowing the children to visualise and understand these markings in a whole new way and with a much deeper understanding.
Impact – How do we know our vision has come to fruition?
In the simplest terms, we would like to ensure that when children leave KS1 they:
- know where they live (locality, county, country and continent)
- know the names and locations of the four countries and capital cities of the UK and the surrounding seas
- know the names and locations of the world’s continents and oceans, linking this to hot and cold areas of the world in relation to the equator and the poles
- know that some places are very different from others and can talk about the similarities and differences, beginning to give some reasons for this
- possess some basic map & fieldwork skills including using maps and simple compass directions
- use basic geographical vocabulary
As well as the above, we would like to ensure that when children leave KS2 they also:
- know that geography is the study of how people and places interact
- can locate geographical regions and their identifying human and physical characteristics as well as key topographical features within the UK
- know what rivers, mountains, coasts, rainforests and volcanoes are, including one notable example of each and a simple grasp of the impact each of these can have on communities
- can 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 key aspects of human and physical geography
- know key differences between rural and urban areas
- possess map and field work skills such as using digital maps; observe, measure, record and present human and physical features of geography and use the eight points of a compass as well as grid references
And above all, we would like them to move on in their journey with a ‘zest for learning’ all things geography-based, which, after all, is all things.