As the children start their education, geography and science are closely linked. The children are introduced to their environment through examining its physical features such as the changing state of water and examining its seaside environment. In addition, meteorology is taught by studying the changing seasons and ‘senses walks’ in the school grounds. More global interests are taught through the medium of festivals as this is a fun and interesting way of teaching very young children about different cultures.
In Year 1, the children are more formally introduced to the concept of physical geography and meteorology: they gain an understanding of islands around the world as well as the islands that make up the UK, along with the different features seen within them. Within a ‘Pirate’ theme, the children learn about the weather and climate in the different places visited by pirates and how they navigated around the world. They create a map and learn to give directions. Human Geography is taught through the theme, ‘A Day in the Life’ as the children learn about the services and buildings in the local area and how to create a street map.
By Year 2, the children’s previous understanding of human geography is extended as theymake maps to record their journey to school, create their own train journey and travel to different countries. With greater independence, the children learn about different houses, homes and other buildings around the world and use atlases to locate the different countries.
As they move into Year 3, within the theme ‘Island Life’, the children develop their skills by learning not simply to fact find but to compare their knowledge about new islands with their existing knowledge. Building on the atlas skills learned in Year 2, the children locate different islands around the world, finding them on maps. By introducing the physical features of a river, the children develop a deeper understanding of physical geography. This is extended still further by examining how islands are formed. Their earlier understanding of maps and compasses are also advanced through the introduction of 4 figure grid referencing.
In Year 4, the children gain a greater understanding of the wider world by delving deeper into a country’s culture through the theme, ‘Gateways to the World’. They learn about where our food comes from, what people grow and eat in different countries as well as how the climate affects the way people live. In response to the increased access to the wider world, the children learn about travel and the connections we have with different places globally: about the places that we can travel to from our local airport and the people who work to make travel possible. Alongside this, they gain an appreciation of the environmental impact of travel andof airport expansion. Meteorology is revisited by considering how the weather can affect air travel.
As they progress to upper key stage 2, Year 5 children return to the geographical features of islands, but at a deeper level, as they consider which factors need to be taken into account if they were to relocate to an island. Alongside this, the children learn about economic issues such as growth and development and how human geography impacts on island life. They create a case study to demonstrate the depth of their understanding. The children now extend their map skills to using six-figure grid references.
When in Year 6, the children become familiar with the more technical terminology: latitude, longitude, Northern Hemisphere, Southern Hemisphere, time zones and tropics of Cancer and Capricorn. In addition, to bring together all aspects of their knowledge and skills, the children broaden their map skills by learning to use the 8 points of the compass as well as symbols and keys to undertake a field study and sketch maps, plans and graphs, including ICT where possible, thereby preparing them for secondary school learning. The children use atlases to find out about other countries but extend their learning by describing the physical features they see. Physical geography is extended to include volcanoes and earthquakes.
With a carefully planned, phased approach to the subject, the children build their understanding in a manner which is sympathetic to their age. They are encouraged to enjoy discovering about the world they live in within fun and engaging topics. The ultimate aim is to foster a love of learning which they will take with them to the next stage of their education.
Mrs C. Evans - Geography Subject Coordinator