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“Geography is about studying the complexity of our world, appreciating the diversity of cultures that exist…” Barack Obama


Geography Curriculum Intent

At Essa, we want to inspire, engage and challenge children by equipping them with the knowledge and skills to become confident geographers, with a curiosity and fascination about the world around us. Our curriculum is ambitious and engaging and allows children to develop a deep understanding of diverse people, places, resources, natural and human environments and key physical and human processes. Our curriculum has been developed from the aims of the National Curriculum and ensures that geographical concepts are taught in depth.

The children deepen their understanding of geography through learning key facts (substantive knowledge) and developing their practice as geographers through gathering fieldwork data, interpreting geographical sources, communicating geographical information in different ways and thinking like a geographer (disciplinary knowledge).

The knowledge and skills that the children develop are progressive from EYFS to Year 6 and reflect the local context, allowing children to see a reflection of the world they live in but also providing them with a window into other places that are different to their locality. When selecting the content of the curriculum, teachers have taken into account what the children need based on their prior knowledge and experiences.

To ensure that this progression is embedded, we use 'Big Ideas' as 'golden threads'.

The Big Ideas for Geography are:

  • Location (runs through all units)

  • Geographical techniques (runs through all units)

  • Physical features

  • Human features

  • Physical processes

  • Human processes

  • Diversity


These golden threads run through our curriculum planning from Reception to Year 6 and allow children to explore common themes across different units of work. Careful consideration is given to building a schema of geographical knowledge and following a well-sequenced curriculum to allow children to make links over time and between themes.

The substantive knowledge that the children learn helps them to develop their knowledge of geographical concepts and then understand how common concepts draw different aspects of the subject together. This ensures that children are not taught lists of unconnected facts or encounter a single ‘story’ about a place.


Regular opportunities are built in throughout our Geography curriculum for retrieval practice. This allows the children to make these links and ensure that powerful knowledge is embedded in the children's long term memory. Teachers try, where possible, to ensure that retrieval prompts pupils to remember core knowledge that they will need for the following session or within the unit. Our geography curriculum is built on the premise of keep up, not catch up and there are regular opportunities for children to revisit and summarise their learning throughout a unit and over time.


We recognise that, in addition to quality first teaching, some children may need adaptations to enable them to access the curriculum. In geography, this is achieved through:

  • A pre-teach of topic specific vocabulary 

  • A reader to support when researching using a range of sources 

  • Print outs of work/presentations to scaffold with independent tasks 

  • More time allocated to process information or instructions broken down into manageable chunks.


Children are introduced to the main themes of a unit of work through our ‘SOAP’ (Subject On a Page). These prepare children for study by providing them with the locational knowledge and key vocabulary of the place or theme being studied. These SOAPS make explicit the substantive knowledge that will be taught.


Teachers use regular formative assessment to address misconceptions and obtain an accurate picture of children’s knowledge and understanding. This is achieved through whole-class quizzing and the use of assessment cups. Our use of learning challenges and steps to success for each lesson ensures that children receive subject specific feedback.


 We want all children to be proud of their Geography work and want to give them the opportunity to celebrate their learning at every opportunity. At the end of each unit, the children complete a ‘ROAP’ (Review on a Page); this demonstrates the substantive and disciplinary knowledge they have gained and gives teachers an additional tool for assessment.


Geography Curriculum Implementation

The curriculum is built on the foundation of three 'Es':

Entitlement or core curriculum offer

The development of geographical skills begins in EYFS, when children explore their understanding of the world around them through daily continuous provision, completing weekly challenges and other focused provision. The curriculum is carefully mapped to ensure that there is a smooth transition between the knowledge and skills taught in Reception and the knowledge and skills taught in Y1. Teachers do not repeat content unnecessarily but build on the prior knowledge and experiences of our children. Geography has a high profile; in KS1 and KS2, Geography is delivered in units of work across the year which allow the children to begin with the basic building blocks of Geography and progress towards and organising and connecting ideas to make greater sense of the world. All children have access to high quality resources such as different types of maps, up-to-date atlases, photographs and digital sources.


Fieldwork is a mainstay of the children's curriculum entitlement and has been carefully planned into the curriculum. It is never tokenistic and is designed to connect pupils with the complexities of the real world, deepening their understanding of geographical processes and the interplay between them and allowing opportunities for formal education outside of the classroom. Our curriculum recognises that fieldwork does not mean ‘field trip’ and progression in the procedural knowledge of fieldwork is built into ‘Geographical techniques’, which runs through all units of work. Fieldwork study is framed as enquiry questions, which allow children to collect data and make geographical conclusions.


Children who demonstrate a love of geography have the opportunity to develop this in a number of ways:

  • Geography clubs focused on the local environment 

  • Geography clubs focused on sustainability

  • Educational visits



Children who excel in geography have the opportunity to pursue their talents in a number of ways:

  • Links with the geography department at Essa Academy

  • Environment department forms part of the pupil leadership team

  • Opportunity to run a student-led club



All of our school community (staff, senior leaders, governors and children are involved in measuring the impact of our Geography curriculum in different ways. This is planned for through the School Development Plan, and using our annual monitoring cycle and termly development plan to map out monitoring and review over the year.


Impact is measured by:

-       Collecting data from formative assessments (whole-class quizzes, assessment cups, exit tickets)

-       Collecting data from summative assessments (SOAP to ROAP)

-       Pupil voice to determine what children have remembered over time 

-       Staff voice to determine effectiveness of provided planning and the impact of professional development

-       Parent voice in our annual survey

-       Reviewing learning in humanities books

-       Reviewing progress made against steps to success each lesson and across a sequence of lessons

-       Governor visits to evaluate different areas of Geography

An impact statement is written each term by subject leaders to assess effectiveness of current provision, progress against objectives on action plans and inform and identify next steps.

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