As a humanities-based subject, geography falls under a family of subjects on the curriculum with a vision to ‘Explore the past, consider the present and discover the future’. By the very nature of the subject’s name, we intend our pupils to ‘travel through the learning’ with an enquiring mind. On this journey we want our pupils to have many opportunities to discuss what they are learning with others; this develops their oracy and ultimately the ability to talk like budding geographers.
As a geographer, we expect our Key Stage 3 pupils to gain knowledge and experience: in the concepts of location and place; human and physical geography; and geographical skills and field investigation. Pupils will have the opportunity to build upon learning that took place in their Explore studies in Key Stage 2. More detailed information is set out in our Age Related Expectations (AREs) and key performance indicators document. Our curriculum has been developed and aligned with other middle schools in the Hexham Partnership. Our intention is to adequately prepare pupils for the study of geography at Key Stage 4.
The content of our curriculum is taught in distinct units of learning (see Sequence of Teaching), which meets an entitlement as outlined in the national curriculum for geography. We have chosen to expose pupils to case studies including the countries of Russia and China, to provide a ‘window’ into their physical, human and geopolitical diversity. In year 5 pupils now study The Shang Dynasty of China, in their Explore studies. We feel that it is necessary for pupils to learn more about China, as an economic powerhouse, given its influence across the world. Russia, provides a fantastic backdrop to study its diverse biomes, resource management issues and the associated interconnectedness and spatial linkages.
As pupils start their Key Stage 3 geography studies, they learn about weather and climate. Typically, the weather of our British Isles is regarded as a national pastime. As pupils return to school following the summer holidays, they learn more about the timely, extreme weather patterns experienced during the storm and hurricane season. We believe that the study of weather and climate provides an excellent baseline to explore its impact on the human and physical world.
A golden thread running through our geography curriculum is the concept and principles of sustainable development. As a subject, geography is perfectly placed to give pupils the chance to understand the processes involved in managing sustainability in our world. Pupils are able to explore the effects of human activity on the physical world, consider the consequences of climate change and discover the solutions to manage natural resources effectively whilst providing social equity and economic prosperity.
A fundamental approach to learning in geography is based on the skill of questioning. We believe strongly in pupils developing an enquiring mind. To appreciate aspects of the past, present and future, we need pupils to be self-reflecting and curious of the world around us. Through the application of targeted questioning in lessons, by both teacher and pupil, gains in securing knowledge can be maximised.
Where opportunities allow, we value the contribution learning outside the typical classroom can have to enliven the curriculum. Naturally, the warmer weather of the spring/summer term will allow for field investigation learning that links to our year 7 unit: Coasts and year 8 unit: Tourism in Northumberland National Park
In a geography classroom, focused talk will be evident in abundance. A strong framework for oracy and disciplinary literacy is vital to enable our pupils to talk like geographers.
We place great emphasis on expanding their subject-specific word hoard, with the intention that these can be applied in different contexts across the school. Pupils are expected to take pride in their own learning, producing quality artefacts. This will be demonstrated by their engagement with classroom activities as well as their written outcomes.
Ultimately, we endeavour to prepare all of our budding geographers to learn how to apply their knowledge in a variety of ways. As they approach the end of year 8, we provide our pupils with the opportunity to synthesise this acquired knowledge in an appropriately tourism themed unit to celebrate their success in the subject. This unit allows pupils to consider the human impacts of tourism on the geographical world; they are invited to consider the curriculum with a ‘mirror’, being reflective on their own experiences of tourism and then with a ‘window’ – their own cultural and socio-economic background. The units we have chosen for pupils across Key Stage 3, build up strong foundations of knowledge that helps our pupils make sense of a complex and dynamically changing world.
Key summative assessment will first take place at the end of Spring Half Term 1 which is halfway through the academic year. Teachers will help prepare pupils for this summative assessment by applying quality first teaching principles in every lesson. Summative assessments will comprise multiple choice questions and short answer responses (which is typical of questions encountered in GCSE examination papers). Declarative, domain-specific knowledge and procedural concepts will also be assessed. This interim assessment will be used alongside a teacher’s formative assessment and mini-topic quizzes to support a pupil’s working at grade (WAG). A pupil’s progress will be reported at the end of the spring half term. Another summative assessment will take place before the end of summer term 2. This assessment will be similar in nature, with some previous content revisited and new geographical concepts explored. Pupils will receive feedback on specific aspects of the summative assessment to help inform pupil response and action. At the end of each year, pupils will know what their areas of strength and development are.
Pupils and staff will refer to Age Related Expectations (AREs) to help provide formative assessment and targeted feedback. To help support a pupil’s metacognition in geography, we share AREs and key performance indicators.
It is important to recognise that the process of learning is tacit – it is invisible! Our approach to assessment provides a framework to check a pupil’s performance at key points to help provide meaningful data. Performance is however different from learning. We strongly believe that assessment is used to suggest what pupils have learned (or what they are able to remember). All assessments will be taken from a wide content range. Incremental quizzes throughout units of learning embed the philosophy of ‘testing to teach’ and not ‘teach to the test’. Mini-tests will help to demystify potential misconceptions.