Curriculum Leaders

Mr J Johnson


“The study of geography is about more than just memorising places on a map. It’s about understanding the complexity of our world, appreciating the diversity of cultures that exist across continents. And in the end, it’s about using all that knowledge to help bridge divides and bring people together.” 

Barack Obama 

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 pupils to gain knowledge and experience through the procedural concepts of location and place; cause and effect, change and decision making. Pupils also develop their geographical skills such as; map skills, data collection and field work investigative skills.  

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 Middle East, Parts of Asia, Africa and other places from around the world.

Key stage 2 pupils study a variety of topics which cover local and wider world geography. Pupils develop their geographical skills and aim to develop a strong understanding of location and place in the world. Pupils are provided with the opportunity to engage in physical geography topics such as The Restless Earth-Tectonics and ‘Rivers’ as well as human geography topics such as ‘You are what you eat’ and ‘How sustainable is my community?’ 

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 opportunity 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 and therefore the curriculum has been sequenced to allow for opportunities to learn geography outside of the classroom. 

Ultimately, we endeavour to prepare all our budding geographers to learn how to apply their knowledge in a variety of ways. As they approach the end of each Key stage pupils are provided with an opportunity to synthesise this acquired knowledge in an appropriately themed unit to celebrate their success in the subject. Year 6 pupils engage in a unit in which they must answer the question, ‘How sustainable is my community?’. Pupils will look at their local area and community and focus on the concept of sustainability by creating their own hypothesis, completing fieldwork and collating and interpreting data to make effect decision making. Year 8 conduct a tourism unit which 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. 


To gauge whether our curriculum is delivering the goods for our pupils, we use on-going formative assessment, in the form of teacher feedback and pupil responses. Throughout the year, teachers provide detailed feedback to pupils, ensuring that the actions taken by the teacher is developing the pupil as a geographer. Pupils will be assessed using both formative and summative assessment at appropriate points in the year; we do not however expect these to be inherently high stakes in nature. A pupil’s performance in these assessments will reflect what knowledge they have retained and are able to recall, along with the application of the procedural concepts and skills that they have developed. The data collected from the various assessments helps to inform next steps for potential intervention and or revisiting of certain aspects of the curriculum. Teachers will review a pupil’s performance to help identify areas of specific improvement. The combination of formative and summative assessment helps inform a child’s ‘working at grade,’ which will be reported to parents/carers. 

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.’ Quizzes will also allow teachers to identify and demystify potential misconceptions. 


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.   

Pupils complete a ‘VIPERS’ tasks once per unit in which they are required to break down a written text focussing on: 
The VIPERS tasks are an essential part of geographical learning to develop disciplinary literacy, but also aid in the progress of pupils reading and literacy. The Hexham Middle School Library is also stocked full of geographical reading, with many non-fiction texts available which look at various places, locations, and cultures around the world. We have carefully selected a range of appropriate reading for all pupils to help further their interest in and understanding of the world that they live in. 

Personal Development

Geography is a subject that is rich in cultural capital opportunities and we aim to provide all pupils with a variety of enrichment activities that allow for this. It is important that pupils experience geography not just in the classroom but out in the world as well. With a variety of field trips and visits available across the year groups, so that pupils can understand the role of geography in the world around them. It is also important that pupils can engage in discussion with individuals who are very much immersed in the world of geography. 

Geography as a subject is a gateway to many careers. We believe it is important that pupils are aware of the career opportunities that the subject provides, and we therefore teach not only how to be a geographer but also what a geographer can go on to be. Visitors to the school with backgrounds in the field of geography discuss the importance of the subject and the skills that are developed within it. 

Curriculum Sequence

Useful Links/Resources

To aid learning outside the classroom, the library at HMS possesses an array of geography-based reading which can be used for home learning and home learning-based projects. Pupils, through their school 360 home page can also access ‘Q-files’ and ‘DK find out’, online pupil friendly encyclopedias full of information to help further their learning of geography and other subjects.  


All learners with additional needs access a broad and rich classroom experience with a well-planned curriculum both within and beyond the classroom. Pupils with additional needs are enabled to achieve well by:

      • High quality planning, teaching and learning across the curriculum.
      • Adaptations made in teaching and learning to ensure all pupils succeed and learn well. 
      • Staff responding to learners’ needs and adapting teaching as a result. 
      • Teaching staff planning and delivering a wide range of high-quality interventions and support sessions. 
      • High-quality ‘Pupil Profiles’ which ensure staff know each child as an individual, including how to support their learning. 
      • Where appropriate, an ‘Individual Education Plan’ with bespoke and individualised targets is implemented, and regularly reviewed. 
      • For learners with an ‘Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP)’, a wide range of individualised targets and support strategies are implemented in a multi-agency approach. 
      • Coordinating our ambitious support in school alongside a multi-agency approach to ensure that all pupils achieve their full potential. 

As part of our implementation model – the ’10 Elements of Great Teaching’ – our teaching and support staff will enable pupils with additional needs to thrive by: 

      • Planning well-sequenced lessons which build progressively in small steps. 
      • Implementing the school’s lesson design principles so that teachers gradually handover the learning through guided and independent practice. 
      • Maintaining a calm, focused, inclusive and positive environment for learning in all classrooms. 
      • Implementing a wide range of strategies to empower pupils to remember more over time and to check that this is the case. 
      • Using metacognitive strategies to encourage self-regulation and to plan, monitor and evaluate learning. 
      • Delivering expectations and instructions clearly in small steps. 
      • Teaching subject-specific vocabulary (tier 3), alongside tier 2 vocabulary, and ensuring that it is used and retained. 
      • Using a wide range of teaching resources and materials to support all learners including visual and audio resources. 
      • Using high-quality modelling in lessons through the ‘I do, we do, you do’ approach. 
      • Using a wide range of scaffolds to support learning including writing frames, planning structures, word processing. 
      • Providing high-quality worked examples which narrate the learning, steps and processes so that pupils develop their independence of learning. 
      • Using organisers such as ‘Knowledge Organisers’, diagrams, planning structures and writing frames to support pupils’ learning. 
      • Allowing pupils to record their ideas in a range of ways including, where necessary, by using online resources and visual/audio support. 
      • Providing word lists/vocabulary banks to support pupils’ access to learning. 
      • Using sentence stems to promote positive talk and discussion. 
      • Using flexible groupings in the classroom so that pupils can learn alongside and from each other. 
      • Implementing dyslexia-friendly approach to reading and writing tasks. 
      • Modelling thinking out loud strategies across the curriculum. 
      • Using a wide range of technologies including online resources, voice recording and visualisers to model worked examples.