“The study of Geography is about more than just memorising places on a map. It’s about understanding the complexity of our world, appreciating the diversity of cultures that exists across continents. And in the end, it’s about using all that knowledge to help bridge divides and bring people together.” Barack Obama
Children embark on their study of Geography as soon as they enter our Early Years Foundation Stage. Our Geography curriculum has been designed and written using:
- National Curriculum for Geography (2014) National Curriculum – Geography key stages 1 to 2 (publishing.service.gov.uk)
- Early Years Statutory Framework (2021) Statutory framework for the early years foundation stage (publishing.service.gov.uk)
- Development Matters Non-Statutory Guidance for the EYFS (2021) Development Matters – Non-statutory curriculum guidance for the early years foundation stage (publishing.service.gov.uk)
- Ofsted Research Review Series: Geography (2021) Research review series: geography – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)
We do not follow a pre-written scheme for Geography. Our curriculum has been written by our Geography Leader and Lead Practitioner and is centred around our local area and community, including our school and its grounds, our village of Dodworth and our town of Barnsley.
Geography is taught through the four main strands set out in the national curriculum: Locational Knowledge, Place Knowledge, Human and Physical Geography, and Geographical Skills and Fieldwork. We have also fit the EYFS statements into these four strands to ensure fluid progression.
Key vocabulary has been identified and highlighted in our sequence of learning documents. Our sequence of learning has broken down each of the national curriculum objectives and Early Learning Goals into small steps, each progressively building on the last. The intention of this approach is for all our children to be able to access the same curriculum, regardless of additional needs or background.
Our developed spiral curriculum also ensures children revisit the four core themes each year, through different units of learning, allowing them to broaden and deepen their geographical understanding of the world around them.
Support for children who need it is given through quality first teaching intervention inside the classroom, as well as through peer support and scaffolding resources including word banks, maps, atlases, and globes which are used frequently in Geography lessons.
Our lessons follow a similar structure, using an ‘I do’, ‘we do’, ‘you do’ approach, which is based on Rosenshine’s Principles to support cognitive load and aid memory and recall. If you were to visit one of our Geography lessons, you would see:
- Knowledge check – an activity at the start of the lesson to check understanding of prior learning.
- I do – teacher introduces new learning, with lots of visuals and modelling broken down into small steps. Key vocabulary is taught discretely.
- We do – children practise new learning with a partner or in small groups. Opportunities for talk are frequent and children can still be guided at this stage.
- You do – once secure, children move onto an independent activity, allowing them to show their understanding. This will be assessed through live marking where possible.
- Consolidation – activity at the end of the lesson to review the learning that has taken place at a whole class level. This could be in the form of a quiz or an exit ticket.
Geography is taught Fortnightly, across the year. You can see the units we study and when they are taught by looking at our long-term plan, here:
See below to see progression through the four strands:
Nursery – children begin to understand that people live and come from all over the world. They develop their understanding of where places are in the world, focusing on families and homes.
Reception – children continue to develop their locational knowledge, by locating contrasting environments that are familiar to them on a map, atlas or globe, including Google Maps and/or Digimaps.
Year 1 – children are introduced to the UK as the place in which they live. They find the four countries and capital cities of the UK using maps, atlases and globes, and zoom into each place using Google Earth. Children learn that they live in or near Dodworth, Barnsley, England, UK, Europe. Children locate Dodworth and Kibera, Nigeria, Kenya, Africa, on a map, atlas, and globe, including Google Earth and/or Digimaps.
Year 2 – children continue to develop their knowledge of the location of different parts of the world. They study in more detail, the characteristics of the UK, including flags, national flowers, key landmarks, and patron saints. As well as matching these characteristics to the correct locations on a map, children also develop a widening sense of place and scale.
Year 3 – children continue to develop their growing knowledge of the UK, by locating counties, topographical features, geographical regions, land use patterns, and population density. This continues to widen their sense of place and scale from Year 2. Children also learn the 8-points of a compass to support their locational knowledge of the UK.
Year 4 – children are formally introduced to biomes and the key physical and human features linked to each, including climate, vegetation (flora), soil, and animals (fauna). Through studying Europe, children locate the main biomes on a map: tundra, boreal/taiga, temperate, deciduous forest, savannah/tropical grassland. Children develop their knowledge of the world by learning about the location and significance of the Equator, Northern Hemisphere and Arctic.
Year 5 – children continue to develop their knowledge of world biomes and climate zones, as they study South America, including the key human and physical characteristics. They learn about the Grand Canyon, Niagra Falls, Panama Canal and Hoover Dam, including how they were formed or why they were built. To develop their knowledge of the wider world, children learn about the Prime/Greenwich Meridian and study time zones across North America.
Year 6 – children continue to widen their locational knowledge of the world by studying South America, including the location of the Andes Mountains and Amazon Rainforest. Children also continue to develop knowledge of the wider world by locating the Southern Hemisphere, as well as significant lines of latitude and longitude. Children consolidate their knowledge of biomes and human and physical geography, through a unit named ‘world trade’. Children learn about trade at a local, national, and global level and focus on how human and physical features of a place, and of a biome, need to interlink to develop trade opportunities. For example, children learn that:
- the possibility of a port being built depends on the availability of water and whether the area is close to the coast or a river.
- the availability of natural resources determines whether mining for example can take place.
- the climate of a place determines what can be planted and grown there.
Children study where our food comes from and follow a global supply chain linked to the production of cotton clothing, which starts in South America.
Throughout their Geography education, children will focus on similarities and differences in the environmental regions they are studying.
Nursery – children develop their own sense of place and community, by studying their own families and the people within them. Children learn about their school and the school grounds and discuss likes and dislikes, focusing on identifying and naming key features of their immediate and familiar environment. Children talk about their house and use Google Maps to find their house and street. As the situation arises, children also discuss changes within their own living memory to their own familiar environment, e.g., moving house, starting Nursery, a shop being built etc. Children talk and learn about what jobs people do. They learn the names of jobs and meet people who work in the local area.
Reception – children continue to develop their sense of place by broadening their understanding of community beyond their own family and school. Children are introduced to different types of families which are familiar to them in their community. Children talk about Dodworth as the village in which they live or go to school. They also talk about people that they have experienced within their community, e.g., lollipop warden, shop assistant, bus driver, police, fire service, doctors, nurses, vets, and teachers.
Year 1 – the scale which children study widens from Year 1, as children compare their local area of Dodworth, to a village in Nairobi called Kibera. The focus is on recognising similarities and differences between human and physical features of both places studied. Children learn about what life is like for a child in Dodworth and compare this to what life is like for a child in Kibera. They form their own opinion of which is the best place to live and why they think that.
Year 2 – children continue to focus on similarities and differences between human and physical features, but the scale develops further, as the areas of study are London and Sydney. Children will have learned that London is the capital city of England, and they will also have explored key human and physical features of London, which will support them in comparing London to Sydney. In Year 2, children start to recognise that some places in the world have areas within them which are human and physical. E.g., the city of London is predominantly human, however, Sydney has many physical as well as human features, even though it is all the same place.
Year 3 – children revisit their learning about Belfast from KS1 and compare human and physical features of Belfast to those found in Paris. Paris was chosen as a comparison because, as well as both being capital cities, children also start to learn French from Year 3 and so children also develop their understanding of French culture. In this unit, children create fact files for Paris and Belfast, in which they begin to use persuasive language. This is built upon in further years, as children learn about tourism and form debates as to why an area is a good or bad place to settle or trade from.
Year 4 – Edinburgh and Naples are the two areas studied in Year 4 and were chosen because they are both volcanic regions, which forms the basis for learning about volcanoes and earthquakes. Children also begin to debate the pros and cons of living near a volcano.
Year 5 – children study two geographical regions which were chosen because they are both lakes and because they provide a good basis for learning about tourism, due to the different human and physical features present. Lake Constance in Germany is also surrounded by the Bavarian Alps and Black Forest, and The Great Lakes in North America each have different features which attract different types of tourists.
Year 6 – children begin to consolidate their knowledge and understanding of the world, climate zones and environmental regions in the World Trade unit. Children learn and discuss why products are suited to specific areas of the world. They also learn about import and export and the global supply chain through studying the process of cotton farming in Peru.
Human and Physical Geography
Naming, locating and identifying key human and physical features is a core part of learning for any place studied across the curriculum.
Nursery – children in Nursery focus on learning vocabulary which allows them to recognise natural and man-made features of their local environment including: wood, river, tree, flower, grass, plant, bush, rain, water, park, train, car, bus, lorry, boat, aeroplane, shop, house, road, pavement, supermarket, hairdressers, police station, library, fire station, café, pub / restaurant, working men’s club, farm (including the names of animals found on the farm – duck, cow, horse, rabbit, pig, chicken, sheep).
Reception – children continue to build their vocabulary through learning about a range of contrasting environments within their local and national region. Vocabulary is modelled to the children which is needed to name specific features of the world – both natural and made by people. Children are also exposed to contrasting environments through the sharing of high-quality texts.
Children in Reception focus on seasonal change and the weather. They have opportunities to observe and record the weather and share texts about changing seasons. Throughout the year, children go outside to observe the natural world and they are encouraged to make observations of how animals behave differently as the seasons change.
Year 1 – children build upon their knowledge and understanding of the weather, by looking at daily weather patterns in the UK, linked to the different seasons. They monitor daily weather patterns at different times of year and record using specific vocabulary: weather, wet, dry, cloudy, sunny, rainy, windy, foggy, frosty etc.
In Year 1, children learn what human and physical mean. Through comparing Dodworth and Kibera, children use geographical vocabulary to describe each location’s human and physical features.
Children carry out a fieldwork study of the school grounds and Dodworth, using geographical vocabulary to describe key human and physical features.
Children begin to recognise that towns and cities have more human features because they are more built up and more people live there.
Year 2 – children build on their human and physical vocabulary through studying London and Sydney. They begin to understand that areas which are warmer, generally have more outdoor activities (e.g., swimming pools) and that the people who live in warmer parts of the world tend to have a more outdoor way of life, e.g., eat outside more. Children also learn that places with more physical features, have fewer people living there, but that they have more opportunities for outdoor pursuits, e.g. rock climbing in mountainous areas, hiking in hilly areas, cycling in forest areas.
Year 3 – children continue to develop their knowledge of human and physical features, focusing mainly on the environmental regions of the UK, and comparing Paris and Belfast. They develop their independence in identifying human and physical features using maps, including digital maps (Google Maps / Digimaps). Children in Year 3 also study in detail, the physical geographical feature of the river and the water cycle.
Year 4 – children learn through studying the continent of Europe, that it is made up of different environmental regions. They learn about the key human and physical features of these regions, as well as their climate zones (polar, temperate, Mediterranean, mountains), biomes (tundra, boreal / taiga, temperate, deciduous forest, savannah / tropical grassland), vegetation belts (flora found within each biome), rivers and volcanoes.
Through comparing Edinburgh and Naples, children build on their knowledge of naming and locating human and physical features of a different part of the world, both of which are situated on volcanic areas. This provides the basis for learning about volcanoes and earthquakes in more depth.
Year 5 – children learn, through studying the continent of North America, that it is made up of different environmental regions. Some of these are revised from Year 3 and Year 4, others are new, including arid / desert. Children build on their knowledge of trade links in Year 4 through learning about the Panama Canal and why it was built., and the Hoover Dam and how it controls the distribution of water.
Through comparing Lake Constance and the surrounding area in Germany, and The Great Lakes in North America, children use further geographical vocabulary linked to human and physical features. Children learn about different types of tourism including beach tourism, entertainment tourism, active tourism, cultural tourism, faith tourism and eco-tourism.
Year 6 – children consolidate their knowledge of human and physical Geography. They study in more detail, the physical features of the Amazon Rainforest and the Andes Mountains. They study the human Geography of ‘trade’ at a local, national, and global scale and how natural resources are distributed according to the physical features of an area (e.g., climate, and accessibility to water).
Geographical Skills and Fieldwork
Nursery – children in Nursery begin to understand maps hold information in patterns and print. They describe a familiar route, beginning to use appropriate vocabulary, and directions left and right. Children use symbols, cues, and objects to represent other objects. Children talk about distance and know that some places are further away than others. They begin to explore scale through small world and role play and recognise some features on a large-scale aerial view using digital mapping such as Google Maps.
Reception – children build on their knowledge in Nursery by deriving information from simple maps. They use a plan view to find / mark features and follow a simple map using landmarks. Children look at aerial views of the school setting, and comment on what they notice, recognising buildings, open space, roads, and other simple features. Children become familiar with a globe, pointing to the North and South Poles. They begin to use a compass to identify the direction of North in the playground. Children start to learn more complex directional language, including ‘near’ and ‘far’. Children in Reception begin to draw maps from memory and use simple symbols to show features on journeys. Through personal experience, high-quality texts, and digital mapping, children start to gain some knowledge of England, where they live, including the location on a map, and some of the key features. Children learn that you need to zoom out to see a larger area and learn Barnsley Road, Dodworth, Barnsley, England, as being where their school is located.
Year 1 – children continue to develop their map and mapping skills by learning the definition of a map, what maps show us, as well as the compass points North, East, South and West, to aid direction and locating a place on a map. Through using aerial photographs, children learn how to create a sketch map of an area of Dodworth before independently creating a sketch map of their classroom. Children add photos and text labels to Digimaps as a whole class. This forms part of a fieldwork study into their school grounds.
Year 2 – locational and directional language further develops in Year 2 and children use maps of London to describe places which are ‘near’, ‘far’, ‘east’, ‘west’, with increasing independence. Children begin to use OS maps to locate landmarks of London and they create their own symbols for key features of the school grounds. This activity supports children to create a sketch map of the school grounds. Using digital mapping, children plan a route to Silverwood. They follow their planned route and record key human and physical features that they identify on their journey. Children record these using photos, drawings and text and add them to their digital map when they return to school.
Year 3 – children learn and use 8-point compass directions to compare the location of counties in the UK, e.g., South Yorkshire is Northwest of Norfolk. Children learn what a compass is and how it works. They use an 8-point compass to find markers around the school grounds. Children learn what OS is and continue to identify OS symbols. Through studying maps, children are introduced to contour lines and use their knowledge to locate mountainous regions of the UK. To develop their mapping skills, children create a sketch map of Dodworth by finding satellite images and including labels for place names, bird’s eye view, OS symbols, shading for land use (urban and rural), and a key.
Year 4 – children revisit what OS is, including symbols and key. They learn what a grid reference is and use 4-figure grid references to locate features of Barnsley and the surrounding areas. Children create a sketch map of an area of Barnsley by finding a satellite image and including labels for place names, bird’s eye view, OS symbols, shading for land use (urban and rural), and a key. When creating sketch maps in Year 4, the intention is that children will begin to be more accurate with scale, as they will also be using 4-figure grid references to support their sketch map creations.
Year 5 – children use 6-figure grid references to locate features of Dodworth. They plan a route to find the 6-figure grid reference location and locate the point in the local area. Children study what is located at the grid reference point and record findings using tally charts, drawings, and photos, before presenting findings using graphs.
Year 6 – children use 6-figure grid references to locate features of Barnsley. They plan a route to find the 6-figure grid reference location and go and find it in the local area. Children study what is located at the grid reference point and record and present their findings. Children create a sketch map of an area of Barnsley by finding a satellite image and including labels for place names, bird’s eye view, OS symbols, shading for land use (urban and rural), and a key. When creating sketch maps in Year 6, the intention is that they will be more accurate with scale, as they will be using 6-figure grid references to support their sketch map creations.
An example of our sequence of learning can be seen, below: