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Geography Curriculum Rationale

At Hillcrest Primary 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 Hillcrest is a place where: “Children lean and discover together to create a better world”. 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 showed their support of the national drive energy savings. They audited the consumption of energy in our school and looked at ways to make savings with the school business manager. What better way to demonstrate our core values of partnership, innovation and excellence. 


Bringing geography alive is important at Hillcrest Primary School. 


Curriculum Intent

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 promote the use of a knowledge-rich curriculum to serve the key principles of cognitive science. Evidence informed research has shown that knowledge is essential to the development of reading comprehension and critical thinking. Research has also shown that those who are rich in knowledge gain new knowledge quicker and more effectively. We therefore place the acquisition of knowledge at the heart of the learning process.


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 took part in the One Tree Per Child Project. They took part in tree workshops learning about the trees on the school site – their benefits and habitats. They then visited one of Bristol’s woodland sites to help do maintenance work and learn about the trees that have been planted.


Our aim for is for all children to access challenging curriculum content that covers a range of subject-specific concepts. We seek to achieve this through the use of high-quality curriculum materials and knowledge organisers, that lay out specific, detailed, coherent knowledge and pedagogical practices that seek to ensure the knowledge is not merely encountered but fixed in the long-term memory.


The KS1 curriculum has been designed to introduce pupils to key subjects-specific concepts and vocabulary in order to prepare them for KS2. The KS2 curriculum is based on the only safe assumption that a teacher can make: that a pupil might go on to study the subject at university, require particular subject knowledge in their future career, or need particular subject knowledge or skills to enable them to be active members of society.


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, the whole-school celebrated ‘Our Bristol’ as a theme and as part of this themed week, children went on a special tour of our city. Children from Year 6 had amazing journeys on the City Explorer open top bus. They were able to take in some of our city’s wonderful historical buildings and landmarks. Starting at the SS Great Britain, the bus went past the Bristol Museum, The Arnolfini, The Mshed, the Cathedral and ended up going under the Clifton Suspension Bridge. It was a great way to celebrate the vibrancy of our great city!


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 the whole school took part in Fairtrade Fortnight. They learnt about the origins of Fairtrade and then, through an interpreter, heard from a Nicaraguan coffee producer, first hand of his experiences.


Curriculum Implementation

The geography curriculum has been carefully built and the learning opportunities 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 has been 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, Year 1 focus on observing human and physical features within a local green space, Arnos Vale. 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 enquires there is an emphasis on understanding how places across the world are interconnected and the position of Bristol within that. 


Geography subject specific characteristics, which we expect the children to demonstrate, underpin all work in geography and provide a common subject specific vocabulary for staff and pupils.


Our short-term plans are produced on a weekly and daily basis. We use these to set out the learning objectives for each lesson, identifying engaging activities and resources which will be used to achieve them.


We encourage staff to teach geography (history and science) through an enquiry question, for instance in Year 3 ‘What’s underneath our feet?’ The knowledge linked to each enquiry has been deliberately chosen to be connected, cumulative and coherent. This helps to ensure sufficient time is allocated to geography and that geographical subject matter can be revisited frequently. Our teachers link prior knowledge to new learning in order to deepen understanding. For example, in Year 2 when the children explore ‘How are schools the same? ’, via video conferencing, they have contacted The Pea School in Cambodia to discuss similarities and differences. They have looked at school logos as inspiration for drawings in art and design and have explored World Environment Day and World Ocean Day as part of their SMSC curriculum. We believe that by crafting our curriculum this way, we improve the potential for our children to retain what they have been taught, to alter their long-term memory and thus improve the rates of progress they make. 


Curriculum Impact

We use both formative and summative assessment information in order to inform our short-term planning. Our low stakes quizzes are efficient, effective and motivating for the pupils, whilst providing teachers with vital information about what the pupils have misunderstood or are struggling to remember. These questions can easily be recycled, utilising the spacing effect to ensure content is retained for the long term instead of being forgotten soon after the lesson. This helps us provide the best possible support for all of our pupils, including the more able. 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. 


Assessment information is collected frequently and analysed as part of our monitoring cycle. This process provides an accurate and comprehensive understanding of the quality of education in geography. A comprehensive monitoring cycle is developed at the beginning of each academic year. This identifies when monitoring is undertaken. Monitoring in geography includes: pupil book, lesson observations and/or learning walks, pupil/parent and/or staff voice.


All of this information is gathered and reviewed. It is used to inform further curriculum developments and provision is adapted accordingly. 

At Hillcrest Primary School, we are GEOGRAPHERS!