At Bridgelea we are geographers! We want our children to love geography. We want them to have no limits to what their ambitions are and grow up wanting to be cartographers, town planners, conservationists or weather forecasters. We want them to embody our core values. We all believe that: “if you can DREAM it, you can do it”. The geography curriculum has been carefully crafted so that our children develop their geographical capital. We want our children to remember their geography lessons in our school, to cherish these memories and embrace the geographic opportunities they are presented with! Recently, our pupils have been orienteering at Sale waterpark, using maps and teamwork to find their way around. We have carried out fieldwork at Fletcher Moss Pountry Park, observing to landscape and traversing the River Mersey. Bringing geography alive is important at Bridgelea Primary School.
The geography curriculum promotes curiosity and a love and thirst for learning. It is ambitious and empowers our children to become independent and resilient – like all curriculum areas.
We want to equip them with not only the minimum statutory requirements of the geography National Curriculum but to prepare them for the opportunities, responsibilities and experiences of later life. For example, our children had the opportunity to plant trees in our school forest area. The children learned specific planting skills including: the best areas to dig, linear planting and safety when using spades. The pupils thoroughly enjoyed the experience with one child commenting: “This morning was great and it was fun helping the forest area and protecting wildlife. I know that in a couple of years our trees will help protect squirrels, hedgehogs and birds with their habitats”.
We want our children to use the vibrancy of our great city to learn from other cultures, respect diversity, co-operate with one another and appreciate what they have. We achieve this by providing a strong SMSC curriculum, with British Values and our core values placed at the heart of everything we do. This often feeds into the geography curriculum. For example, our children have been on trips exploring Manchester amazing range of buildings and architectural features, such as Manchester Town Hall, the cities museums and galleries. Our children have been on the metrolink and explored how this system helps connect us together. We enrich their time in our school with memorable, unforgettable experiences and provide opportunities which are normally out of reach – this piques their interests and passions. For example, our children visited the cities war museum and made links with its unique design and its connections with world conflicts.
In July 2018, a complete audit of the geography curriculum was conducted. On the back of the findings from this audit, the geography curriculum has been carefully built and the learning opportunities and assessment milestones for each year group crafted to ensure progression and repetition in terms of embedding key learning, knowledge and skills. We believe that our pupils need to be actively involved in making sense of their learning and therefore an enquiry approach was implemented, encouraging higher-order thinking and allowing our children to explore in a way that is meaningful to them. Within each year group, geography strands are revisited in a progressive manner. For example, when encouraging an understanding of places and connection, MP1 focus on observing human and physical features within a local green space. This understanding of our place in the world develops through the year groups through comparisons within the UK, Europe and the wider world and then in both Year 6 topics there is an emphasis on understanding how places across the world are interconnected and the position of Manchester within that.
Geography subject specific characteristics, which we expect the children to demonstrate, have been developed and shared with all stakeholders. These characteristics underpin all work in geography and form a focal point for display areas and provide a common subject specific vocabulary for staff and pupils. These characteristics are:
- An excellent knowledge of where places are and what they are like.
- An excellent understanding of the ways in which places are interdependent and interconnected and how much human and physical environments are interrelated.
- An extensive base of geographical knowledge and vocabulary.
- Fluency in complex, geographical enquiry and the ability to apply questioning skills and use effective analytical and presentational techniques.
- The ability to reach clear conclusions and develop a reasoned argument to explain findings.
- Significant levels of originality, imagination or creativity as shown in interpretations and representations of the subject matter.
- Highly developed and frequently utilised fieldwork and other geographical skills and techniques.
- A passion for and commitment to the subject, and a real sense of curiosity to find out about the world and the people who live there.
- The ability to express well-balanced opinions, rooted in very good knowledge and understanding about current and contemporary issues in society and the environment.
We empower our staff to organise their own year group curriculums under the guidance of our subject leaders. Teachers are best placed to make these judgements. Staff develop year group specific long-term curriculum maps which identify when the different subjects and topics will be taught across the academic year. The vast majority of subjects are taught discretely but staff make meaningful links across subjects using ‘Vehicles’. They link prior knowledge to new learning to deepen children’s learning. For example, in MP3 when the children explore ‘The Water Cycle and River Fieldwork, we visit the River Mersey and the river Bollin to compare and contrast how these rivers impact on the local and national environment and how pollution affects the wider environment.
The assessment milestones for each phase have been carefully mapped out and further broken down for each year group. This means that skills in geography are progressive and build year on year.
Our staff use pre and post-learning assessment to systematically assess what the children know as the topic progresses and inform their future planning. These assessments then inform summative assessment judgments for each topic.