‘Geography is a subject that holds the key to our future.’ Michael Palin
At Highgate, we want to enthuse children to have a love of geography. We want to inspire children to have curiosity and fascination to find out about the world.
The knowledge in our curriculum has been carefully specified, ordered coherently and builds over time. As children work through our geography curriculum they will know more, and understand more about the world around them. A good geographical understanding relies on firm foundations of knowledge and skills. The skills our curriculum develops, like the knowledge, are specified, ordered coherently and progress over time. There are strong links with other subjects within the curriculum such as Seasons and Taking Care of the Earth in Science. All of our History teaching involves a grounding in geography looking at the big picture and locating the place. This curriculum structure helps pupils to deepen their understanding of physical and human geographical processes, fostering curiosity and fascination for the world we live in.
We teach our children through the different types of Geography Knowledge. The locational knowledge, the sense of a location, and the interconnectedness of places. Place knowledge – what makes a place the way it is. The Environmental, Human and Physical aspects of a place – the mountains, climate zones and the settlements, trade links, etc.
The big ideas, the disciplinary concepts, are weaved throughout the lessons: Place, Space, Scale, Interdependence, Physical and Human Processes, Environmental Impact, Sustainable Development, Cultural Awareness, and Cultural Diversity. They are taught and developed over time through building knowledge and making connections. Through this teaching children will become more skilled at answering questions such as; What is it like to live in this place? What are the challenges of this environment? How have people changed this landscape over time? Children will gain an understanding of what geographers do, what they look for and what they may say about a place.
Each year our geography curriculum begins with a ‘Spatial Sense’ unit that explicitly teaches geographical skills such as locating places on a map, positioning items on a map, using symbols in a key, interpreting scale, reading climate graphs, identifying locations using co-ordinates, interpreting population data, identifying elevation on relief maps and more. The spatial sense units for each year group are positioned at the beginning of the year to explicitly teach skills which will then be used in context throughout the rest of the year as children apply those skills to learn more about people, places and the environment. The spatial sense units build on prior knowledge before moving children on as the level of challenges increases from year to year. Map skills are built throughout the learning using digital maps, atlases and globes.
Our geography curriculum is inclusive. We have the same level of ambition and expectation for all children. When needed we adapt our teaching approaches to suit the different learners in our school. This might be in how children record their work and how they access reading material to breaking knowledge into smaller steps to support children.
At Highgate, we will develop skilled geographers who have knowledge of the world, can talk about cultural diversity around the world, and understand the physical and human geographical features of the world. We want to prepare children for the future by having the knowledge and skills of geography that they need to succeed in life and for future learning and employment. We have seen that arming children with powerful knowledge about the world around them helps them to develop a love for the subject of geography, and also recognise their own role in becoming a responsible global citizen. We want to inspire them to become cartographers, explorers, and environmentalists but most of all to care about our world.