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Wonder Secondary Geography

Wonder Secondary Geography
Curriculum taught at:

Our vision

Geography is part of the World disciplines in our schools, which aim to develop and broaden pupils’ understanding of the world: its culture, faiths, land, people, language and history. Geography at aims to allow children to explore the wider world and explain why the subject matters to their lives now and in the future.

Our curriculum is driven by big geographical questions and knowledge is sequenced to allow pupils to make progress through concepts such as space, place, scale, interdependence, cultural diversity, and human as well as physical processes. We also wish to engender the idea of thinking, speaking and writing like a geographer; encouraging students to communicate findings and come to conclusions about the key questions they study. We wish to create students who are able to thrive in the 21st century because they understand both their own personal geographies and the powerful knowledge geography can teach them about how our world works.

Evaluate Geography has at its heart the skills that allow children to consider critically assumptions they hear about other places and people. It asks them to place knowledge in context and consider things from different perspectives and think carefully about views that they hear about other cultures, countries, and our climate. In doing so, we teach them to evaluate knowledge in its context.
Responsible A key aim of teaching and curriculum in geography is to give pupils an awareness of our changing world and the impact that our actions have. In doing so – through the teaching of consequences and inter-connectedness – we teach them to become responsible citizens.
Environmentally Aware Environmental awareness refers to the responsibility they learn for the environment and their part in conservation. However, it also means that children have a strong sense of place and understanding of their immediate environment and the wider world. Consequently, this develops their long-term interest in world news and current affairs as they recognise how small and interconnected the world is.

Geography Curriculum

We have created a curriculum which is appropriately sequenced to enable students to revisit and remember key knowledge. This is a curriculum that begins with a student’s personal geographies but takes them beyond through powerful geographical knowledge. It includes:
• big geographical questions and enquiry
• why geography matters to the lives of our pupils in the 21st Century
• big geographical concepts – Place, Space, Scale, Cultural awareness and diversity, Interdependence, Environmental Impact, Sustainable development, Human processes, Physical processes, Geographical skills. We might call this the ‘grammar’ of geography.
• key concepts and terminology (the “Tier 3 vocabulary”) to allow children to think, write and speak geographically
• a clear progression framework that shows students how they become better geographers (make progress) in knowledge, skills (including fieldwork) and understanding of geography

The curriculum has been sequenced to account for prior knowledge and craft readiness . We want students to be able to make progress by increasingly identifying links in their geographical studies. We therefore carefully consider the order of all topics such that these “linked learning” opportunities are maximised. This is a key part of thinking like a geographer. For example, when teaching the regional geography topics we depend upon the students having prior knowledge of many of the geographical issues that we explore in the context of the region in question.

For example, when we teach Russia in year 9 the lessons are taught with a view to retrieving knowledge from previous topics but in a new locational context. For example, pupils would be unable to appreciate the collision of the Kazakhstania plate with the Euramerica plate if they had no prior knowledge of the theories of continental drift and plate tectonics. Because of this plate tectonics is taught in Year 8. This is why our regional knowledge topics always feature towards the end of each academic year. By doing this pupils are able to apply the knowledge learnt from earlier units to see the complex interactions that are occurring in that particular place.

Furthermore, the department thought very carefully about the appropriate place for topics like climate change and sustainability – these are core principles but can include complex processes that may be better suited to older year groups. We currently introduce climate change in the second topic in year 7. This allows us to introduce the issues associated with climate change later in KS3 in topics like flooding and Africa in year 7. However, a full exploration of climate change mechanisms is not taught until Year 9.

We are also mindful of the fact that some pupils seem to like the more traditionally ‘physical’ topics rather than ‘human’ topics, and vice versa. Whist trying to ensure that all units have elements of both these parts of geography we also alternate physical and human units to ensure that all students remain engaged.

The curriculum is sequenced carefully to allow pupils to get better at understanding environmental, human and physical processes. For example, physical processes, and many human processes too, are driven by the atmospheric conditions (the weather). So, pupils first secure an understanding in Year 7 of components such as air pressure, the water cycle and longitude. With this knowledge, pupils have a strong basis to understand why certain biomes exist and also how they are changing. It also contributes towards pupils’ understanding of climate change and the effects, both physical and human, that are happening in different locations, such as changes to agricultural practices and rising sea levels.

It is a long term aim to become fully aware of where topics such as convection currents, tides, and the earth’s structure are taught within the science curriculum and to then think carefully about where we can teach these topics to fully support and consolidation of that knowledge and help the process of the ‘indirect manifestation of knowledge’ (Counsell 2018).

Finally, we are mindful of age-appropriate content. Some geographical processes are complicated, and we feel that sometimes students are better equipped to tackle some of these complexities with age. A good example of this is the The Middle East conflict scheme of learning at the end of year nine which includes some sensitive content that may not be appropriate until later in the key stage when students have matured more. Perhaps more pressingly, though, is that this topic is deliberately placed at the end of the key stage 3 curriculum so that students can appreciate the geopolitical complexity of the Middle East region through the eyes of an experienced and equipped geographer, meaning that they are not only confident enough to approach serious subject matter with a disciplined approach, but they’re better at doing so.

Our Teaching

In Geography pupils will encounter two types of knowledge:

  • Substantive knowledge, which is the content and information that is to be learned
  • Disciplinary knowledge, which teaches children how to think like a geographer.

Substantive Knowledge
The national curriculum for Geography categorises the knowledge your child will learn into four broad areas of learning.
Locational knowledge: ‘knowing where’s where.’ This is one of the main components of a traditional Geography education. In addition to helping children understand the shape and orientation of the world around them, it supports all other aspects of learning in Geography. In addition, it allows children to:

  • build their own identity and develop their sense of place
  • develop an appreciation of distance and scale
  • learn about the orientation of the world, including references such as the continents and oceans that they can navigate from

The uniqueness of different places helps children to explain why the outcome of universal environmental and human processes may vary, and why similar problems may require different strategies in different places.’

Locational knowledge is developed by taking pupils on a journey. Over time, pupils learn and remember more locational knowledge. The curriculum is carefully constructed to build on their locational knowledge from KS2 and then introduce more and more through the study of different topics. Often this is reinforced through case studies at the end of units on Africa, Asia, Russia and the Middle East. Pupils become increasingly fluent in identifying specific locations and their locational knowledge is frequently tested

Place knowledge: place is an ordinary word that is used on a daily basis in most people’s lives. However, it has a more specific meaning in the geography classroom. Principally, place is a physical area that can be found on a map and has a personal meaning, attachment or distinct identity. In respect of the curriculum, we consider place to be a specific location on the earth’s surface, or in the atmosphere, where a particular physical or human process took place. For some processes, the particular time it occurred is also relevant. For example, in Year 10, pupils explore how the retreating coastline of the Holderness coast in Yorkshire has affected human land use through the ages. At lower school, the curriculum builds pupils’ place knowledge over time. This allows them to make meaningful comparisons. For example, in exploring flooding in York and Bangladesh pupils learn about the causes of flooding and the differing impacts that floods have on those two places and this allows comparisons to be made between the two.

Environmental, physical and human geography: Knowing why a phenomenon occurs physically and the impacts it has on humans and the environment that it has are at the core of the discipline. Human and physical geography are therefore covered in a balanced and methodical way at Woldgate School. This allows them to:

  • describe their own and others’ environments
  • recognise the similarities and differences between contrasting environments
  • understand important processes and changes in the world around them. These will include changes to the land, water, air, people, and wildlife.

The human and physical aspects of Geography are sequenced carefully to allow them to appreciate the interplay between them. For example, most of the physical processes, and many human processes too, are driven by the atmospheric conditions (the weather). So, pupils first need to secure an understanding of components such as air pressure, the water cycle and longitude. With this knowledge, pupils have a strong basis to understand why certain biomes exist and also how they are changing. It also contributes towards pupils’ understanding of climate change and the effects, both physical and human, that are happening in different locations, such as changes to agricultural practices and rising sea levels.

Geographical skills and fieldwork: Geographical skills that allow pupils to collect, represent and interpret information is an important dimension of our curriculum. These experiences give pupils ‘a critical insight into the nature of geographical knowledge and some examples of fieldwork your child will undertake include:

  • Field sketch drawing of the Wolds
  • Weather recording and analysis
  • KS3 study of York – Is York a clone town?
  • Coastal Fieldwork on the Holderness Coast
  • Urban fieldwork in Leeds and Hull looking at the regeneration and urban decline

Pupils will also learn to interpret spatial representations, particularly maps, globes and atlases, and construct their own plans and maps. They do this from the very start of Year 7 when they encounter aerial photography, satellite imagery and digital mapping. Pupils are given the specific skills they need to represent and interpret geographical data and each unit contains elements of data analysis which build pupil confidence in these areas. These skills are integrated into the curriculum so that pupils understand their application.

Disciplinary Knowledge
Your child will consider how geographical knowledge originates and is revised. It is through disciplinary knowledge that pupils learn the practices of geographers. This involves:

  • Using what they know from one context in another
  • Thinking about alternative futures
  • Considering wider influences on decisions that need to be made
  • Giving pupils the knowledge they need
  • Giving some insight into the ways geographers work
  • Allowing pupils to see that geography is a dynamic subject where thinking and viewpoints change.

This means, for example, that pupils are able to combine their geographical knowledge in powerful ways to understand the broader world around them. For example , they may consider the impact of a flood or volcanic eruption on people living in the area and their response. Furthermore, it makes sense to teach development before tectonics, since exploration of responses to a tectonic event in a high income country compared to that in a low income country requires a foundation knowledge about varying economic development to appreciate the nuances.

Geographers ask questions such as ‘where is this place?’, ‘why is it here and not there?’, ‘what is it like?’ and ‘how did it get like this?’ It is important that the curriculum gives pupils the knowledge they need to ask these geographical questions and learn how geographers reach their answers. In this way, we seek to create the geographers of tomorrow.

How families can support

Parents can help by encouraging pupils to take an active interest in the world around them, by following the news (for which the BBC news app is pretty handy) or having discussions about their learning. This allows pupils to put their learning into a wider context and enables them to add extra details and comparisons into their work. Additionally, supporting pupils with their homework is greatly appreciated and, if they are stuck or need further support, please encourage them to speak to their teacher.

Sequencing and Assessment

In mapping progression over the course of a programme of study, our curriculum aims to set out the substantive knowledge that pupils need to learn in a connected way.
• Over time, curricular goals should be increasingly challenging.
• The curriculum organises and repeats substantive and disciplinary knowledge in ways that show pupils how each component fits together and how each composite idea fits with others.
• The prior content that pupils have remembered allows them to understand the conditions, processes and interactions that explain geographical features, distribution patterns and changes over time and space.

One example from our curriculum of this approach is in teaching development before tectonics. We do this because responses to a tectonic event in a high income country will be different compared to that in a low income country requires knowledge about economic development. Equally, regional geography topics depend upon prior knowledge. For instance in our Year 9 scheme of work on Russia, pupils ae better able to understand the collision of the Kazakhstania plate with the Euramerica plate 300 million years ago if they have a strong knowledge of the theories of plate tectonics.

Therefore, regional knowledge topics feature towards the end of each academic year.

Our assessment

Every assessment used in Years 7-9 takes the same format; including:

• one knowledge (multiple choice) section,
• one application of understanding (extended writing) section,
• and one application of skills section.

This structure gives multiple opportunities for pupils to recall their knowledge and understanding. It builds in the use of knowledge organisers and reduces teacher subjectivity Revision lessons seek to prepare pupils for these tests, and the following feedback helps address misconceptions. Each assessment is followed by a lesson devoted to improvements and further addressing misconceptions. Pupils will then complete an end of year exam.