Thornhill’s key principles for the teaching of geography:
We live in a global society where factors on a global scale have an impact upon our everyday lives. In order to equip our children with a broader knowledge and understanding of our world and its civilisations, Thornhill aims to develop pupil’s critical thinking and expose them to a range of different places with varied environments and communities. To develop global citizens, we will provide a curriculum that has a focus on the following elements:
Understanding our place in the world – Starting with exploring the local area in EYFS and KS1 and progressing to national and international areas in KS2, the children will gain a sense of their own geographical identity and the context of that within the world. By exploring similarities and differences between their homeland and that of other areas, they will develop their appreciation of diversity as well as recognising the oneness of our global community.
Physical processes – Children will develop their understanding of the physical processes taking place across our planet and how it has and continues to shape our lives. Learning how processes, involving weather and land formations, occur will also develop our understanding of our impact on climate change which will help empower positive change for the future.
Skills – Children will develop lifelong skills such as map reading, which will allow them to gain independence and problem- solving skills. Enquiries will also enable them to record, interpret and critically examine data and other resources.
Cross-curricular links – Children should develop an understanding that geography relates to many aspects of our learning by incorporating links to geographical projects with maths (data analysis, measurement using scales, coordinates etc.), science (processes such as the water cycle), history (development of settlements, trade links etc.) and PSHE (environmental issues, economies etc.).
The effective teaching of geography at Thornhill
- Consolidating and building upon knowledge: To ensure good progress is made it is necessary to regularly revisit previous learning such as UK maps and introduce a new level of learning to build up a more detailed understanding.
- Advance organiser: Being explicit about what the learning will be allows the children to see the ‘big picture’. Having an organiser breaking down the different aspects of the topic on display will encourage the children to revisit the learning from previous weeks and make links to their new learning and across the topic.
- Vocabulary: The use of technical vocabulary is key to the children’s understanding of the subject. Key vocabulary pertaining to a specific topic alongside more general skills based geographical language should be displayed with the advance organiser. Games and other activities that promote group discussion are great ways to allow the children to practise using the vocabulary correctly.
- Physical resources: Frequent use of atlases and maps are needed to build confidence with map reading. Physical objects relating to the topic such as volcanic rocks, farming equipment or flags for example, help inspire inquiries and generate discussion.
- Use of technology: There is a wealth of excellent websites and apps that can help bring geographical subjects to life. Videos can effectively model complex ideas as well as bring an expert into the classroom, also, live data is available from websites such as the MET office which can help children engage with real world issues. The use of Satellite maps is a key skill to explore and there are also immersive experiences such as VR apps which can create a sense of wonder about our planet.
- Current affairs: Linking the learning to current affairs in the news allows children to see the relevance of their learning. There is always a global news story that could be linked to a topic and used to explore environmental issues.
- Practise and application: Teachers provide pupils at Thornhill opportunities for them to practise applying their skills, knowledge and understanding throughout each lesson. Application of skills can be shown the following lesson or within another subject through a cross curricular link, through a presentation or school assembly.
- Assessment: Formative assessment is used throughout a topic, beginning with a ‘knowledge harvest’ at the very start of the teaching. Teacher observations of peer and group discussions, and of written work will be carried out each lesson to inform the next lesson. It is possible to carry out some summative assessment on key skills, ideas and vocabulary but is most useful to carry these out within a sequence of learning so the results may be used to inform planning for the remaining lessons.