Well, it was certainly beyond county for me today; a trip to Kidlington, just north of the city of Oxford, to deliver some bespoke CPD on behalf of the Geographical Association (GA) (https://www.geography.org.uk/) (and not an easy or pleasant one given the snow and localised flooding).
The remit that I was given from the GA prior to half-term was ‘To present one bespoke CPD workshop with a focus on curriculum planning’. In preparation for my visit, I created a multimedia presentation with links to useful resources and websites and several online folders for SLT to dip into during their three hour or so session.
After introducing ourselves to ensure a relaxed atmosphere, I outlined the aims for the morning:
- To look at Ofsted’s new Education Inspection Framework (EIF) and think about the impact that this may have on the teaching and learning of geography within your school.
- To think about ‘intent’ (creating a ‘vision’ for geography within your school and ensuring coverage and progression).
- To consider ‘implementation’ in more depth, including opportunities to take learning outside the classroom/local fieldwork.
- To give you the chance to explore a variety of suggested materials and web-links.
- To share some examples of best practice in geography.
I endeavoured to involve staff right from the start by challenging them to complete the ‘question generator’ activity (‘magpied’ from the GA/ASE’s ‘Critical Thinking for Achievement (CTfA)’ training that I was selected to take part in back in October 2018). In pairs, they were requested to use the question generator grid and the word ‘geography’ to create a range of questions that they wished to discover the answers to by the end of the session. They were prompted to generate question stems by using one word from the vertical and one word from the horizontal axis, e.g. ‘What is …?’; ‘Where did …?’; ‘When could …?’. I explained that some cells could not be filled in using the stems consecutively, but worked better with a space, e.g. ‘How might things have been different if the bus had been one minute earlier?’. The ‘how’, ‘why’ and ‘conditional stems’ also tend to generate questions that require a more thoughtful, deeper response. Once pairs had done this, they were asked to circle their five ‘best’ questions and then rank their five questions based on which they would most like to find the answer to, e.g. 1 = most like to find the answer to. This fed into a brief whole group discussion. Teachers agreed that this activity made them really think hard. They had several similar questions that they wished to find answers to, helping to clearly define the school’s priorities for the foreseeable future.
Furthermore, at this point, I demonstrated how the ‘question generator’ can be a fantastic way for setting up a pupil-led enquiry. It acts as a framework, helping pupils of all ages to ask better and deeper questions as part of an enquiry. Students use the vertical and horizontal axes to create and apply questions. I shared a simpler version that could be used with younger or less able pupils and a case study from Guilsborough CEVA Primary School in Northamptonshire, where Alison Pryce had utilised it in order to improve Year 1’s questions.
Moving on to the ‘main’ component, I began by showing two short movie clips; the first, in which Amanda Spielman gave a clear overview of the new EIF from Ofsted (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=byaUliCMi9E&t=1s) and the second, in which Heather Fearn, Inspector Curriculum and Development Lead, discussed ‘curriculum’ in some detail (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xZhhPLsO8mY). I used a couple of articles (https://www.tes.com/news/how-will-ofsted-inspect-curriculum and https://thirdspacelearning.com/blog/new-ofsted-framework-2019-consultation-results-schools/?utm_campaign=19_05_2019_New_Ofsted_Framework_Blog_SLT&utm_medium=email&utm_source=Pardot) and the content of a recent e-mail from Gloucestershire County Council, entitled ‘Education Matters’, to reinforce some of the key points. Of particular interest are the ‘deep dives’ into subject teaching, planning and sequencing that Ofsted are proposing (one relating to reading, maths and a foundation subject at primary level) in order to assess the quality of a school’s education. Schools will have up until the summer of 2020 to develop their thinking on curriculum, but this could well be extended. There is a real focus on ‘quality of education‘, with the 3 Is (intent; implementation and impact) being mentioned frequently.
Since consideration of coverage and progression should really commence from the EYFS, I also displayed a recent guest blog from Helen Moylett on Early Education’s website, which looked at ‘cultural capital’ – some concerns and questions (https://www.early-education.org.uk/news/guest-blog-helen-moylett-ofsted’s-thinking-cultural-capital-some-concerns-and-questions). We talked about the proposed revisions to the EYFS Framework following a year-long pilot involving 25 schools/settings, with specific attention paid to the Early Learning Goal entitled ‘Understanding the World’. I posed a few questions to staff to prompt a degree of reflection, as well as projecting a website that I discovered recently, which contains some invaluable resources (http://www.lancsngfl.ac.uk/curriculum/early_years/index.php?category_id=117).
Next, it was time for SLT to do some ‘real’ work! I linked to a post from Ofsted’s blog (https://educationinspection.blog.gov.uk/2019/07/01/busting-the-intent-myth/), before asking staff to think about their school’s ‘intent’ for geography and create a whole school curriulum map. To support them in doing this, I highlighted sections from the National Curriculum Programme of Study for geography (https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/national-curriculum-in-england-geography-programmes-of-study/national-curriculum-in-england-geography-programmes-of-study), the progression and assessment framework document published by the Geographical Association back in 2014, but still widely referenced (https://www.geography.org.uk/download/GA%20Assessment%204pp%20flyer-3.pdf), as well as their new Leading Primary Geography handbook (https://www.geography.org.uk/Shop/Product-type/Handbooks/Leading-Primary-Geography-Handbook/9781843774501) and most relevant online resources (https://www.geography.org.uk/LPG-Effective-subject-leadership and https://www.geography.org.uk/write/MediaUploads/shopdownload/7CurriculumPlanningFramework.pdf).
We then looked at ‘implementation’ in some depth, focusing on coverage and progression in particular. I shared examples of units/schemes of work from Rising Stars’ new geography offering (https://www.risingstars-uk.com/subjects/historyandgeography), Collins’ Primary Connected Geography series written by David Weatherly, which promotes enquiry-led, outcomes-driven learning superbly (http://davidweatherlyeducation.co.uk/images/collins-history-and-geography-connected-brochure.pdf), subject associations like The Royal Geographical Society (https://www.rgs.org/schools/teaching-resources/mountains,-volcanoes-and-earthquakes/), as well as Oddizzi (https://www.oddizzi.com/teachers/help/), so that staff could see the detail required, in order to ensure a knowledge-rich curriculum, with opportunities for skills development embedded within it and the chance to deepen conceptual understanding, is delivered. The consensus among staff was to invest in the new Rising Stars Geography and History and so, we spent some time selecting three possible units of geography and some history ones to supplement their current schemes of work to facilitate a two year rolling programme at Key Stage 1, Lower Key Stage 2 and Upper Key Stage 2.
It seemed apt to emphasise some ‘quick, easy and cost-effective ways to take learning outside the classroom/local fieldwork’ at this point too. These included a link to Roald Dahl’s fabulous ‘Matilda’ (https://plazoom.s3.amazonaws.com/Resource%20Uploads/22-8-2019/Matilda%20Lesson%20Plan%202019.pdf), enquiry-led learning in The Geographical Association’s publication ‘The UK: Investigating who we are’ by Stephen Scoffham and Terry Whyte (https://www.geography.org.uk/Shop/Geography-Plus-The-UK-Investigating-who-we-are/9781843772712), local news websites, Digimap for Schools (http://digimapforschools.edina.ac.uk/), Oddizzi (https://www.oddizzi.com/teachers/help/topic-planning/local-area-studies/), a ‘rivers’ unit from Primary Connected Geography (http://davidweatherlyeducation.co.uk/images/collins-history-and-geography-connected-brochure.pdf) and a river study that I developed for a Cheltenham-based primary school, activities, such as ‘geographical glasses’ and ‘secret street detectives’, gleaned from Jeff Stanfield several years’ ago, ‘Go the Extra Mile’ (https://www.geography.org.uk/Journal-Issue/a8a0969d-9a97-4266-be04-b292ae0f6b79), Andrea Mosaic (http://www.andreaplanet.com/andreamosaic/), journey sticks, environmental quality surveys, The Geography Collective’s Twitter feed and Mission Explore books (https://twitter.com/geocollective?lang=en, https://www.amazon.co.uk/Books-Geography-Collective/s?rh=n%3A266239%2Cp_27%3AThe+Geography+Collective and https://www.sustainablelearning.com/resource/missionexplore-geography-collective), Den Day (https://www.savethechildren.org.uk/how-you-can-help/events-and-fundraising/den-day), literacy-based local enquiries/fieldwork activities (https://www.geography.org.uk/Shop/The-Everyday-Guide-to-Primary-Geography-Story/9781843773290) and additional suggestions given by The Geographical Association (https://www.geography.org.uk/Geography-fieldwork). Once their whole school curriculum is outlined, then some of the above resources can be purchased to support the delivery of geography, both in and beyond the classroom.
I explained about the Frederick Soddy Trust Schools Award and suggested that SLT seriously considered submitting an application for funding to support local fieldwork (https://www.rgs.org/in-the-field/in-the-field-grants/teacher-grants/frederick-soddy-schools-award/). I would be more than happy to help them do this, as I have with several other schools across Gloucestershire over the years. These schools have all been successful in gaining financial assistance and I showcased written, photographic and audio evidence of our ‘geography days’ at various venues, ranging from Year 1 to Year 6.
After a short break for refreshments, I gave staff plenty of time to explore the many suggested resources and web-links. It also provided an opportunity for them to ask questions, seek further advice, etc. specific to their own or school’s interests or needs. Professionals appreciated having time built into the morning’s session for this: as a former teacher, I know how our lives can become all too consumed once we venture back into the classroom or home environment.
Before too long, it was time for the ‘plenary’. The first task encouraged a degree of reflection:
It appeared that most of their questions had been answered and they now had a better sense of direction in terms of what geography needed to be taught, in which year groups this might be most suited and how best to go about it. Staff also felt more confident about taking learning outside the classroom or instigating local fieldwork.
My final ‘ask’ was to take and complete two post-it notes. On the first post-it note, participants were requested to sum up today’s CPD session in five words/in a sentence or two (WWW/EBI). On the second post-it note, they were asked to identify areas where further support might be needed. They could add their name and position to each post-it note if they wished, before sticking them onto the backdrop as they left the room.
Their ‘concluding comments’ can be found below. A positive way to spend a Thursday morning, it seems!
‘Great support! Thank you. Very useful.’
Good luck, Edward Feild Primary School, with your geographical journey! I look forward to seeing, and hearing about, some of your ventures in the not too distant future!