Subject Leaders: Miss Cassidy & Mrs Broadley

Curriculum Champions: Zachary, Hendrix, Ellis, Edward & Jake

What is it like to study Geography at Witham St Hughs Academy?

Learning Geography at Witham St Hughs Academy is an exciting journey into the known and unknown world. Pupils should leave our Academy excited to continue exploring the world around them, and with a keen sense of responsibility for its protection. During a pupil’s time as a Witham geographer, they will experience the world first hand through a range of fieldwork experiences that build progressively and sequentially over the years. They will also develop a wide range of geographical skills that will take them into the next stages of their education and beyond! Sustainability is the golden thread that runs throughout our geography curriculum, and children build their understanding of this over their time at the Academy.

How is Geography planned?

We believe that a high-quality geography education should inspire an environment of curiosity and fascination about our world and its people and through this, promote engaged, global citizens. We believe geography teaching should equip all pupils with knowledge beyond their own experience and, in a local area often lacking in diversity, offer experiences and knowledge that explore breadth of understanding for pupils. Our curriculum is rooted in both the National Curriculum requirements for geography as well as information published by the Geographical Association with a particular focus on what constitutes excellent practice in primary geography. Our geography curriculum is coherently planned and sequenced with a clear end point for each year group.

Disciplinary and Substantive Knowledge

We believe that pupils need 4 key substantive elements of essential knowledge to excel in geography which can be broadly categorised into: locational knowledge, place knowledge, understanding of physical and human geography and finally developing geographical skills and fieldwork. Our curriculum is designed to teach each of these areas in every year group with knowledge and skills designed to build in a progressive and sequential manner.

Alongside this substantive knowledge, children also need the disciplinary knowledge to understand how geographers think and learn. As they progress through the Academy, these skills develop to allow children to form their own ideas, opinions and approaches as geographers. In order to develop pupils’ substantive knowledge, teachers adopt subject specific pedagogy when teaching geography, ensuring they are teaching like geographers so that pupils can learn and think like geographers.

How is Geography taught at Witham St Hughs Academy?

Our geography curriculum is taught in an exciting and engaging way so as to inspire a love and curiosity about the world. Children have as many first-hand experiences as possible, and where this is not possible, things like virtual fieldwork, use of digi-mapping and drone fly-throughs are all used by staff to bring the geography curriculum to life. Each year, pupils will explore ‘big questions’ in which they have the opportunity to apply their geography learning to an important question in which they must ‘Think like a Geographer’.

Whilst ‘writing like a geographer’ will form part of geography learning, teachers recognise that geographical understanding should not be assessed though literacy ability and literacy should not be a barrier to achievement in geography. Witham St Hughs Academy has high aspirations for all learners within geography, and skilled teacher adaptation allows all learners to access the curriculum and stretch and challenge the most able.  

Areas of learning are designed to carefully build knowledge and understanding over time, for example Y3 pupils learn about the world’s rainforests and the importance of the Amazon River, and then in Y6, pupils deepen their understanding of rivers in a focused, off site river study. Teachers check regularly whether previously taught concepts have been remembered with well-structured lessons which prioritise recap at the start, and address any misconceptions pupils may have.  

What about experiences?

Geographical experiences build in both distance and complexity across pupils’ time as geographers at our Academy. In Reception for example, pupils focus on the school site and exploring the flora and fauna around them, as well as noticing how the seasons change. As children progress into Key Stage 1, they will broaden their view to our local community of Witham St Hughs and the 4 countries of the UK. They will take part in a range of fieldwork in the local area as well as visits to our coast and a local farm. As pupils move into LKS2, they broaden their horizons, exploring rainforest biomes and natural disasters. At this time, children begin studying the concept of ‘case studies’ in more depth and how these are a key part of the work of geographers. In UKS2, pupils build on all of their prior learning, studying mountains and rivers, including an in-depth local river case study, conducting primary fieldwork.

Where can I see Geography around school?

Everywhere! You will see lots of geography on display in classrooms, our giant world map in the corridor, as well as some whole-school geography displays. Some of these celebrate pupil responses to their ‘Big Questions’, some showcase work from our ‘Geography Day’ and some celebrate the fantastic work of our Gifted and Talented geographers across the Academy.

Work beyond Witham

Our geography subject leaders are always seeking to work beyond Witham St Hughs Academy and as such have linked with the CAPE project at Leeds Trinity University. This project is to develop climate change education in schools – ‘Climate Adapted Pathways for Education’ and is an exciting new project to be involved with!

Our subject leaders also support fellow geography leaders across the Trust running ‘Subject Leader Development Groups’ to ensure the highest possible geography provision across the Trust. Bespoke geography support for schools is also offered through the Teaching School Hub.