“A high-quality geography education should inspire in pupils a curiosity and fascination about the world and its people that will remain with them for the rest of their lives.” (Back on track book)
At New Milton Infant School, we strive for our children to develop a fascination and appreciation of the world around them.
Planning and assessment for each year group is based on key objectives that have been formed using the Early Years Statutory Framework and the British National Curriculum. As they move through the school, children develop their geographical knowledge, skills and understanding in a spiral curriculum that shows clear progression through the year groups. Children have regular opportunities to revisit and build on previous learning with lessons covering many strands of the British National Curriculum for geography.
Planning and assessment support children in establishing not only their substantive knowledge as a geographer but also their disciplinary knowledge. They will discuss how they are being geographers and begin to understand that there is always more to discover in an ever-changing world. Teachers will nurture children’s curiosity about the world, helping them develop a passion for the subject that will support them as they continue on their learning journey into Key Stage 2 and beyond.
Both the substantive and disciplinary knowledge the children will be learning is clearly identified in an assessment overview document for each unit of work. How the learning relates to children’s SMSC development and the school values is also considered as well as the key vocabulary children will need to learn. The overview supports teachers in their Assessment for Learning, highlighting opportunities for children to provide evidence of their knowledge, skills and understanding.
Practical, multi-sensory lessons will spark children’s enthusiasm for the subject, supporting children of all ages and abilities in their learning.
Teachers gain an understanding of children’s prior knowledge and understanding through looking at previous assessment information or through observation and discussion. Regular opportunities are given in lessons and in Paddington’s Postcards sessions to revisit previous learning. This provides children with further opportunities to refine and build on their knowledge, skills and understanding. Teachers are aware of which children may need additional targeting during these revisit opportunities from their previous formative assessment.
An enquiry-based approach is at the centre of our sequentially planned Geography curriculum which is underpinned by our vision and values. The skill of forming and asking key questions about a place or topic is modelled by the class teacher and children progress to asking their own key questions in groups in Year 2. Children use fieldwork skills and a range of resources to gather the information they need to answer the key questions including atlases, photographs, books, people and ICT. This information allows them to develop their geographical knowledge. To support children’s disciplinary knowledge, the class teacher promotes the idea that there is always more to find out about our ever-changing world.
In the Early Years Foundation Stage children begin to develop their knowledge, skills and understanding in geography as they explore the subject through the Understanding the World strand of the EYFS curriculum. Communication and Language development is also of high importance as children’s understanding and use of language underpins their substantive and disciplinary knowledge as a geographer. Our school’s focus on children’s oracy development gives children regular opportunities to establish this foundation, providing children with a ‘high-talk’ classroom to support them in expressing their geographical understanding.
Children in the EYFS will develop and establish their substantive knowledge through adult-led activities and continuous provision. Adults will support children in their geographical understanding by talking to children during their play, encouraging them to deepen their understanding through questioning when appropriate. Children will develop a fascination for the world around them and begin to develop their independence as a geographer as they transition to Key Stage 1. Our current Reception/Year One classes will further support this as children will be exposed earlier to Key Stage one concepts and vocabulary. Lessons are planned carefully with clear intentions for each year group.
In Key Stage 1, geography is taught during a topic, over a series of lessons. Each unit of work covers at least three out of the four curriculum strands to allow children to continuously experience the knowledge and skills of the curriculum. Geographical knowledge should be acquired in lessons using skills. Each unit of work should encourage children to use the five following fundamental skills:
By teaching and encouraging children to use these skills with the relevant geographical vocabulary, children deepen their geographical understanding.
An enquiry-based lesson should begin with a hook to inspire children and then a key question to frame their geographical enquiry. Children then investigate using a variety of practical resources including photographs, maps, globes, atlases and technology such as Google Maps. Children should be then given opportunities to connect with the information they have obtained by using the five fundamental skills. The lesson or unit of work is then concluded and the key question is answered. Children’s individual questions about what they want to find out are also encouraged at the start of a topic, helping foster their independence as a geographer. During lesson inputs and plenaries, children are also encouraged to discuss and reflect on what they have/will achieve as a geographer, developing their disciplinary knowledge of the subject.
Children are also invited to be geographers through the use of Paddington’s Postcards. During class assemblies children will explore the place Paddington is sending his postcard from using maps, photographs and ICT such as Google Maps and Google Earth. During these assemblies, children will compare each new place with their own locality through discussion and visual prompts, further covering the relevant strands in both the EYFS and Key Stage One curriculums. These sessions will cover both human and physical geography as they look at the lives of children from each key place, as well as location, weather and key features. They will also provide children with additional opportunities to revisit previous learning.
High quality teaching and learning opportunities are provided for children within an ambitious and inclusive curriculum. Children of all backgrounds and abilities, including those with SEND and EAL are given the opportunity to make the best possible progress. Children learn in practical, multi-sensory lessons in a language-rich environment. Regular revisit opportunities are also given to support children in their cognition and learning and understanding of key vocabulary.
Once children have mastered foundational knowledge in Geography, they will begin to show the application of this in a more in-depth and independent way. At New Milton Infant School, we take a holistic approach to support all children to show mastery of learning at their own level. The class teacher challenges children who show high levels of understanding in the subject to make links between their own experiences and the current learning through discussion. Children achieve mastery in the subject by making new comparisons and connections within their geographical knowledge, widening their understanding of the world. Their disciplinary skills as a geographer are also challenged as they are asked to explain their understanding and processes.
Children will show curiosity and understand what it is to be part of a wider community as they develop their sense of space and place within their locality. They will ‘travel’ to new places from their own locality using technology and real and virtual maps to support their understanding of space and compare and contrast features within their own and other environments. During lessons, children will see their world in different map scales. Our spiral-style curriculum approach allows children to be continually exposed to different map scales. Switching between larger and the smaller map scales during their geography learning journey, supports children further in developing their sense of space and place. Seeing places at a smaller scale can be an abstract idea for young children to understand and switching scales gives children more opportunities to see how a place can still be represented on a smaller scale.
Children will leave this school with a continued curiosity about the world around them. They will have acquired and embedded the skills they need to become ‘young geographers’, progressively from EYFS through to the end of Key Stage 1. They will ask questions about the world around them and know the tools they can use to answer their questions. They will have gained a secure understanding of the world around them that is appropriate for their age and be ready to continue their geography learning into Key Stage 2 and beyond.
We will measure the impact that our teaching and learning is having on the development of children’s geographical knowledge, skills and understanding through regular assessment.
Formative assessment takes place throughout a topic, through regular Assessment for Learning opportunities during inputs and clear assessment opportunities during lessons. Assessment overviews provide information as to where each target strand of the Key Stage One geography curriculum is assessed during a unit of work.
Our practical approach to lessons allows teachers to assess children through observation and discussion. This allows all children to show their understanding in their own way, with teachers using their knowledge of their children to support them in communicating their understanding.
Teachers are given the opportunity to talk with their children; geographer-to-geographer and assess children against multiple focus objectives. Assessment is easily recorded, giving teachers more time to communicate with their children. This allows many strands of the national curriculum to be assessed at one time, providing an in-depth assessment for each young geographer.