Geography should give children an understanding of places and environments. Through their work, children will learn about their local area, and compare their life in this area with that in other regions in the United Kingdom and in the rest of the world. They will learn how to draw and interpret maps, and develop the skills of research, investigation, analysis and problem-solving. Through their growing knowledge and understanding of human geography, children gain an appreciation of life in other cultures and cultural diversity. We strive to celebrate and develop our links with Tengeru, Tanzania within both key stage one and two, enriching children’s knowledge and understanding of the world.
Geography teaching also motivates children to find out about the physical world, and enables them to recognise the importance of sustainable development for the future of mankind.
Aims of Geography
We use a variety of teaching and learning styles in our geography lessons. We believe in whole-class and group teaching methods, and we combine these with enquiry-based research activities. We encourage children to ask as well as answer geographical questions. We offer them the opportunity to use a variety of data, such as maps, statistics, graphs, pictures and aerial photographs, and we enable them to use ICT in geography lessons where this serves to enhance their learning. Children take part in role-play and discussions, and they present reports to the rest of the class. They engage in a wide variety of problem-solving activities. Wherever possible, we involve the children in “real” geographical activities, for example, research of a local environmental problem, or use of the Internet to investigate a current issue.
We recognise the fact that there are children of widely different geographical abilities in all classes, and we provide suitable learning opportunities for all children by matching the challenge of the task to the ability of the child. We achieve this by:
The Early Years Foundation Stage
We teach geography in reception classes as an integral part of the topic work covered during the year. As the reception class is part of the Early Years Foundation Stage, we relate the geographical aspects of the children’s work to the objectives set out in the Early Learning Goals (ELGs) which underpin the curriculum planning for children aged three to five. Geography makes a significant contribution to the development of each child’s knowledge and understanding of the world, through activities such as collecting postcards from different places, singing songs from around the world, or investigating what makes a “good” playground.
During Key Stage 1 we let all the children carry out an investigation into the local environment, and we give them opportunities to observe and record information around the school site. During Key Stage 2 children do a study of the local area. We also offer them the opportunity to take part in residential visits to York, Pembroke and London.
Geography makes a significant contribution to the teaching of English in our school because it actively promotes the skills of reading, writing, speaking and listening. We ensure that some of the texts that we use in class are geographical in nature. For example, in Key Stage 1, we use the Katie Morag books by Mairi Hedderwick to develop children’s knowledge and understanding of life on a Scottish island; in Key Stage Two we aim to inspire and develop the children’s knowledge of the world through reading Kensuke’s Kingdom. At Key Stage 2, we organise debates on environmental issues, because we believe that these develop speaking and listening skills. Reports, letters and recording information will all develop children’s writing ability. We also use environmental issues as a way of developing the children’s writing ability, by asking them to record information and write reports and letters.
The teaching of geography in our school contributes to children’s mathematical understanding in a variety of ways. We teach the children how to represent objects with maps. The children study space, scale and distance, and they learn how to use four- and six-figure grid references. They also use graphs to explore, analyse and illustrate a variety of data. They develop their understanding of different time zones and through work on planning school visits to London and Pembrokeshire, learn to use timetables to plan journeys.
Personal, social and health education (PSHE), citizenship and the new Relationships Education
Geography contributes significantly to the teaching of PSHE and citizenship. The subject matter lends itself to raising matters of citizenship and social welfare. For example, children study the way in which people recycle material, and how environments are changed for better or for worse. We allow them to organise campaigns on matters of concern to them, such as helping poor or homeless people. Thus, geography in our school promotes the concept of positive citizenship.
Spiritual, moral, social and cultural development and British Values
We offer children in our school many opportunities to examine the fundamental questions in life through the medium of geography. We encourage the children to reflect on the impact of mankind on our world, and we introduce the concept of “stewardship” in relation to sustainable development. Through teaching about contrasting localities, we enable the children to learn about inequality and injustice in the world. We help children to develop their knowledge and understanding of different cultures, so that they learn to avoid stereotyping other people, and acquire a positive attitude towards others. We help contribute to the children’s social development by teaching them about how society works to resolve difficult issues of economic development.
Information and communication technology enhances our teaching of geography, wherever appropriate, in each key stage. Children use ICT to enhance their skills in data handling (e.g. mountain, climate, population or river data) and in presenting written work. They research information through the Internet and libraries of digital images (e.g. aerial photographs in Google Earth). We also arrange for the children to communicate with pupils in other schools and countries via e-mail.