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Geography at St Robert Bellarmine
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.
Teaching should equip pupils with knowledge about diverse places, people, resources and natural and human environments, together with a deep understanding of the Earth’s key physical and human processes. As pupils progress, their growing knowledge about the world should help them to deepen their understanding of the interaction between physical and human processes, and of the formation and use of landscapes and environments. Geographical knowledge, understanding and skills provide the frameworks and approaches that explain how the Earth’s features at different scales are shaped, interconnected and change over time.
At St Robert Bellarmine, we believe that Geography helps to provoke and provide answers to questions about the natural and human aspects of the world. In line with the aims of the National Curriculum, we provide our children with a high-quality Geography curriculum which helps children develop a greater understanding and knowledge of the world, as well as their place in it. The geography curriculum at St Robert Bellarmine inspires in pupils a curiosity and fascination about the world and its people that will remain with them for the rest of their lives. We enable our children to develop knowledge and skills that are transferable to other curriculum areas and which can and are used to promote their spiritual, moral, social and cultural development. It develops contextual knowledge of the location of globally significant places and understanding of the processes that give rise to key physical and human geographical features of the world, along with how they bring about variation and change over time. In ensuring high standards of teaching and learning in Geography, we implement a curriculum that is progressive throughout the whole school. We work hard to ensure that learning is built upon each year, to give our children the opportunity to continually progress.
Geography is, by nature, an investigative subject, which develops an understanding of concepts, knowledge and skills. We seek to inspire in children a curiosity and fascination about the world and its people which will remain with them for the rest of their lives; to promote the children’s interest and understanding of diverse places, people, resources and natural and human environments, together with a deep understanding of the Earth’s key physical and human processes.
We intend to develop children’s curiosity and a fascination of the world and its people that will remain with them for the rest of their lives. The curriculum is designed to develop knowledge and skills that are progressive, as well as transferable, throughout their time here and also to their further education and beyond.
Geography at St Robert Bellarmine is taught in blocks throughout the year, so that children can achieve depth of understanding in their learning. Teachers have identified the key knowledge and skills of each topic and consideration has been given to ensure progression across topics throughout each year group and across every child’s journey from EYFS to Year 6. We identify key knowledge categories which are based on the objectives of the National Curriculum to ensure links can be made across different areas of study with a progressive approach to how knowledge is covered.
At the beginning of each topic, children have opportunities to engage in pre-learning activities to allow them to begin to develop their own curiosity surrounding a particular topic. They also have opportunities to discuss what they already know. This informs the programme of study and also ensures that lessons are relevant and take account of children’s different starting points. We use a range of strategies and techniques to ensure our children are pushed to reach their full potential. Knowledge organisers are a very important tool in helping children learn and remember new information and transfer this information to their long-term memory. Our children are provided with the knowledge they need at the beginning of a new topic and have opportunities to continually refer back to this throughout the year. In line with findings from cognitive load theory (Baddeley & Hitch, 1974; Baddeley 1986; Rosenshine 2012; Sweller, 1988) lessons are chunked into small sessions of explicit teaching followed by regular opportunities for all children to think, apply and practice key geographical and map skills and knowledge. Expectations are high and through our planning approach of basic, advancing and deep knowledge activities all children have opportunities to deepen their learning at an individual level. We use a range of strategies and techniques to ensure our children are pushed to reach their full potential such as knowledge organisers, low stakes quizzes, pre-learning home tasks to encourage discussion surrounding a topic at home and the use of open-ended questions to give children the opportunity to deepen their understanding. Using knowledge organisers supports our children in their understanding of each area of learning. It also gives them the opportunity to refer back to their previous linked learning. Over the course of the years, these knowledge organisers ensure that all pupils become ‘culturally literate’ (Hirsch, 1987) and have the opportunity to engage in ‘powerful knowledge’ (Young, 2013). The knowledge organiser acts as a planning, teaching and assessment tool. It provides complete clarity to leaders, teachers, pupils and parents about what is expected to be learnt and remembered by the end of the lesson and the unit and in the long term. We utilise low stakes quizzes at different stages in each of our topics. Low-stakes quizzes are efficient, effective and motivating for pupils, whilst providing teachers with vital information about what pupils have misunderstood, and/or what they are struggling to remember. The benefit of retrieval practise is one of the most robust findings in cognitive psychology (Roediger & Karpicke, 2006; Storm, Bjork & Storm, 2010) and we are keen to use this proven research to support our children in the long-term retention of new knowledge.
At St Robert Bellarmine, we ensure that geography has the same importance given to it as the core subjects, as we feel this is fundamental in enabling all children to gain ‘real-life’ experiences. Our staff are committed to ensuring they dedicate specific time each year to allow them to develop their own subject knowledge and become better geographers for the benefit of our children. We plan and implement our approaches to ensure children are getting the more from the subject.
Cross curricular outcomes in geography are specifically planned for where they are relevant. Key subjects are linked and planned into the long-term curriculum for each year group to ensure topics provide our children with relevant links and context and a more meaningful understanding. As a school we employ an company ‘Enrich’, who further enhance our geography curriculum with practical outdoor fieldwork activities. This also supports strong links with other subject areas which provides consistency and connections across our curriculum.
At St Robert Bellarmine geography learning is loved by teachers and pupils across school. Teachers have high expectations as well as children and they strive to reach their full potential with confidence. As children progress throughout the school, they develop a deep knowledge, understanding and appreciation of their local area and its place within the wider geographical context. Geography at St Robert Bellarmine extends children’s interest and knowledge beyond their immediate experiences, using images and information to help them interpret about people and concepts that they acquire from media, internet and books. Children will begin to make relevant links from geography to other curriculum subjects, such as history and science. They will improve their enquiry skills and inquisitiveness about the world around them, and their impact on the world. All children will realise that they have choices to make in the world, developing a positive commitment to the environment and the future of the planet. Children will become competent in collecting, analysing and communicating a range of data gathered. They will be able to interpret a range of sources of geographical information and they will communicate geographical information in a variety of ways.
Assessment is crucial in improving learning. Formative assessment is used regularly to inform teachers of ongoing progress and allows adjustments to be made that reflect the learning needs of all children in our school. Feedback is continually given to children which leads to better outcomes in geography. In line with our school assessment policy, summative assessment in the form of teacher assessment is carried out at the end of each topic to inform the overall progress made by each child on a yearly basis.
We want the children to have thoroughly enjoyed learning about geography, therefore encouraging them to undertake new life experiences now and in the future and be able to understand the part they play in it. All children in the school will be able to communicate confidently about their geography learning, skills and knowledge.