Geography at St Mary’s
The Geography curriculum at St Mary’s is designed to inspire our pupils to be world citizens with a curiosity about all aspects of the planet which will remain with them for the rest of their lives. We have a thematic approach to the subject to ensure that all of the high-level concepts which are central to our pupil’s geographical education are covered whilst at the same time developing their contextual knowledge and understanding, as well as increasing their geographical skills.
The use of themes helps to underpin our sequencing of the subject and shows that as each pupil progresses through school, they build on their knowledge each year, and are able to understand, explain, apply and evaluate their learning with increasing maturity.
Geography is taught in three units over the course of the school year and equips pupils with knowledge about diverse places, people, resources and natural and human environments. At the heart of our learning are St Mary’s core Values which are integral when understanding our place in the world. An understanding of Justice and a deep seated Empathy are key when learning about challenges faced across the globe, as well as an appreciation of the need for Equality in order for our planet to thrive.
Our Geography curriculum is planned through these key themes
Globalisation - We look at connections between places and people across the planet, established through trade, politics and cultural exchanges, and helped by technology and transport.
Development and Inequality - We address global inequality which is a growing problem with the divide between the world’s economic elite and the world’s poorest people getting ever larger.
Physical Processes – We look at the physical processes are the natural forces that change Earth's physical features, including forces that build up and wear down Earth's surface.
Scale – We study things at a range of scales: Local, national and global.
Sustainability – We must conserve and preserve the planet’s resources in a way which protects the future whilst letting people’s lives improve.
Geography is taught with these themes at the centre, beginning in Early Years using the EYFS framework to explore pupil’s understanding of the world and of people and the communities that they live in. Through the Understanding the World goal children learn about their immediate environment, recognise places on maps and aerial photos, make their own maps and explore and contrast other places through images, video and stories. Early Learning Goal objectives with geography content are mapped against Key Stage 1 objectives to ensure teaching is sequential throughout the school, building upon the children’s prior learning.
In Key Stage 1, pupil’s begin to understand Geography as its own subject and are introduced to the key themes. As they progress to Key Stage 2, they explore these themes in greater depth, building on the geographical skills and knowledge acquired in prior learning. Our unique location on the North-East coast of England ensures fieldwork knowledge and skills are taught practically and our programme of educational visits consolidates children’s knowledge. Our Geography Curriculum includes a range of engaging elements including map skills, climate, rivers, mountains and coasts as well as energy and natural hazards.
The acquisition of Substantive Knowledge in Geography begins in Early Years through play, exploration and discussion. As children progress through St Mary’s, the substantive knowledge set out by the National Curriculum; locational knowledge, place knowledge, environmental, physical and human geography and geography skills and fieldwork and associated explicit vocabulary that they gain becomes more complex and children are able to make links to the key themes which are at the core of our Geography curriculum.
Disciplinary knowledge in Geography develops through use of map skills and fieldwork and pupils gradually become more expert by learning to think like a geographer and apply their knowledge practically.
Assessment in Geography checks what pupils know and understand and ensures that pupils have remembered the curriculum content in the long term through a combination of questioning, pre and post unit knowledge diagnostics, quizzes, effective teacher feedback and longer writing tasks.
By the time our children leave St Mary’s they will be confident, inquisitive Geographers who are able to remember key knowledge of places and locations they have learned about and know how to source geographical information as required. They will be able to use a variety of vital vocabulary with which to discuss their geographical knowledge and understanding. They will know how their actions affect the local environment and the sustainability of the Earth’s resources. They will have a developed understanding the importance of Equality in our world, have empathy to people living across the globe and be committed to creating a sustainable future. They will be well equipped to access then next phase of their geography learning.