Geography Curriculum

“The study of geography is about more than just memorising places on a map. It is about understanding the complexity of our world, appreciating the diversity of cultures that exist across continents. And in the end, it is about using all that knowledge to help bridge divides and bring people together.” Barack Obama

At Courtwood, we want our children to understand the world around them, to have a thirst for knowledge about what makes places unique and how, as responsible citizens, they can play their part in protecting the world for future generations. Geography is taught as a Learning journey across a number of weeks and children have the opportunity to discover some of the physical and human features that give a place it’s unique identity, how places and people are interconnected and the impact that decisions at local, national, international and global level can have on places around the world. Understanding geography ensures our children become tolerant and knowledgeable citizens of the future, who embrace diversity and understand their role in shaping how the future looks.

Children learn about the importance of fieldwork, how to conduct it effectively and develop their fluency of applying procedural skills such as map reading, collecting and interpreting data and using compass directions. They learn the fundamental processes of how physical features are formed, such as rivers and volcanoes, and are then supported to consider and evaluate how these impact on the life of different people in different ways, from socio-economic perspectives. Knowledge Organisers support the teaching sequences in classrooms. Learning in geography is discrete but children are encouraged to make links to their wider curriculum work, for example relating how their work on settlement along the river Ganges deepens their understanding of its religious significance for Hindus, learnt in RE.

We follow the National Curriculum Programme of Study for geography at KS1 and KS2. The organising concepts of geography are used to form the basis of our curriculum content: space, place, scale, interdependence, physical and human processes, environmental impact and sustainability and cultural awareness and diversity. These permeate throughout. The geography curriculum is organised as a tapestry curriculum model – being made up of many threads that weave together to reveal the big picture. These threads are encountered throughout each key stage. For example, ‘rivers’ is encountered in Y2, 3, 5 & 6 – each time it is encountered the children add more to their understanding of rivers, building their existing schema and helping make new links and connections in their memory. The content about rivers is sequenced to build on what has already been learned before, and the children will often encounter the new learning in relation to a new place, allowing opportunity for them to apply their previous understanding of rivers in a different context.

Our Geography curriculum is organised through studies of place. Children encounter at least two different places per year and places are selected for the richness of their geographical content. Places for study are selected carefully, to ensure they take pupils beyond the limits of their personal experience (diversity, local area environment and backgrounds); represent each continent of the world; are culturally diverse; and will have the greatest power in helping pupils make sense of the natural and social worlds. This contributes to children’s personal development by broadening their understanding and experiences of different places and cultures; fostering a fascination about the world around them; giving opportunities for responsible reflection about moral and ethical issues in geography as informed citizens; and by appreciating and valuing the things we share in common across cultural, religious, ethnic and socio-economic communities.

We use Ready-to-Progress assessments at the end of each unit of work, to ascertain whether children have learned and remembered the content of the intended curriculum well enough to be deemed ‘ready to progress’ to the next stage in their geography learning. These assessments support pupils to feel confident they have made progress in their learning and show them how they have built on previous knowledge; allow teachers to respond to any gaps at both an instructional and a curricular level; and allow curriculum leaders to know how well the curriculum is being taught, learned and remembered and implement intervention as necessary.

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