Primary Humanities Network meeting, Gloucestershire Heritage Hub


Our second meeting of this academic year, with the theme of  ‘Ofsted’s new Education Inspection Framework (EIF) and the 3Is – Part 2’, was again held at the newly refurbished Gloucestershire Heritage Hub (, thanks to their very kind offer to host the event and supply complimentary refreshments.  Instead of being in the Dunrossil Centre, we were based in the Frith Room, right in the heart of the Archives where Wi-Fi access was available.

After introducing ourselves (this took a few minutes as there were around 30 of us today!), I outlined the aims and proposed structure for the meeting:

I began by highlighting Ofsted’s presence online, e.g. websites and social media accounts, and suggested that teachers visit these on a regular basis to keep abreast with developments regarding the new Education Inspection Framework (EIF) in particular.  Next, I showcased new material from the leading subject associations, namely the Geographical Association (GA) ( and Historical Association (HA) (, in light of the recent changes to the inspection process.  The GA has a section on its website with comments from Alan Kinder, the Chief Executive, and a document providing a summary of their support for the new EIF.  In the autumn edition of the GA’s Primary Geography journal (, there was an excellent article written by Alan Kinder and Paula Owens, entitled ‘The new Education Inspection Framework through a geographical lens’, which is certainly worth a read.  The HA have taken a similar stance (; they have a downloadable guide to what primary schools might expect from the new EIF and a movie clip of the keynote given by Heather Fearn, Inspector and Professional Development Lead for Ofsted, at their last Annual Conference.

I was quite excited by the starter challenge today; I really wanted to see what happens when teachers have time to simply stop and think and then chat informally with their counterparts from different schools.  Each table of eight was given a large sack containing a number of everyday items (Christmas had come early!).  They were asked to take it in turns to select something from the bag and consider how they might use the object to support the teaching of geography or history within their school.  After five minutes, individuals were prompted to share their ideas with others around their table.  Once ten minutes had elapsed, I intervened and called upon each table to reveal their top three suggestions with the rest of the room.  I also added a few thoughts, either relating to things that I had done myself or seen others attempt.  There was much discussion among delegates and sharing of best practice, which was lovely to witness.  Everyone agreed that this had been really useful; we had all gained fresh ideas for activities both inside or outside the classroom.  I imagine that some will be integrated into future Network meetings too!


I deliberately included an empty plastic bottle within one of the post bags, so that I could invite Emma Aldred-Tow from Churchdown Village Junior School (CVJS) ( to talk about a fantastic ‘Plastics week’ that she led in school towards the end of the last academic year.  The school attained a Primary Geography Quality Mark (PGQM) Silver Award a few years’ ago and are aspiring to achieve a Gold Award in the not too distant future (  The bottle top mosaic that they created was extremely eye-catching and highly effective at relaying a very important message; simple things are always the best!

It is also worth mentioning here that the GA have recently partnered with Encounter Edu to create ‘Ocean Plastics Geography 11-14’ (  This set of free resources includes lessons addressing the issue of marine plastic pollution, the harm caused by plastics to the environment and communities, how we deal with all the waste and concludes with a debate on approaches to reducing ocean plastic pollution.  Fieldwork templates for investigating plastics in the local area are also available, plus a number of case studies exploring both the human and physical elements of plastic pollution.  There is an introductory unit of three lessons that ‘sets the scene’ or could otherwise be used as a standalone resource to introduce the idea of ocean literacy.  Whilst these are aimed at Key Stage 3 students, it may be possible to adopt and adapt the materials for use with Upper Key Stage 2 pupils (perhaps to ensure higher attainers are stretched and challenged sufficiently?) (

The ‘main’ part of our meeting focused on ‘implementation’ in some depth.  Initially, I discussed the content of the National Curriculum Programmes of Study for geography and history ( and, in addition to highlighting two, superb progression and assessment documents published by both the GA and HA ( and  Next, I showcased a number of exemplary units/schemes of work, including Rising Stars’ latest geography and history sample units (, new teacher resources available on Oddizzi’s website (, TUI’s Better World Detectives primary resources that I co-wrote with a Head Teacher from Northamptonshire, Daniel Smith, and the current Vice President of the GA, Alan Parkinson (, Wicked Weather Watch (WWW)’s Key Stage 2 scheme of work that has recently been updated ( and one from the GA’s ‘Geography Plus: Primary Teachers’ Toolkit’ series, namely ‘The UK: Investigating who we are’ by Stephen Scoffham and Terry Whyte (  Hopefully, the content and layout of these helped to demonstrate the depth of core knowledge, conceptual understanding and skills development that is necessary.

I came across this brilliant ‘Geography Learning Journey’ whilst trawling through Twitter a couple of weeks ago ( and thought it apt to share with teachers today too; a simple and clear way to convey a whole school curriculum map for geography or history, perhaps?

I also proposed including references to ‘cultural capital’, ‘reading across the curriculum’ and emphasing ‘subject-specific vocabulary’ within units/schemes of work.  For those who needed further clarification about the former, I showed an extract from Helen Moylett’s guest blog, which appeared on Early Education’s website not long ago; a must read for teachers at any stage in education, in fact (’s-thinking-cultural-capital-some-concerns-and-questions).

If subject expertise was limited within school, then I recommended purchasing the relevant ‘In the Know’ guides from the GA’s shop (  This series is designed to help primary teachers with their background knowledge of geographical themes and topics that they are expected to teach.  These PDF downloads provide straightforward, accurate and trustworthy background knowledge, explanation, diagrams and glossary on topics in the National Curriculum, so that teachers can develop their geography teaching with confidence.

In order to ensure some support for our History Subject Leaders in attendance too, I linked to Glenn Carter’s History Rocks! website and his comments on the new EIF (  Glenn is a highly regarded primary school teacher and sits on the HA Primary Committee as well.  We explored his suggestions for making history fun ( and how the subject can be brought to life through the use of technology (  Glenn had very kindly put together a movie clip for me, which discussed the best history apps that are currently available.  Teachers found this incredibly insightful; almost all were unaware of the AR aspect of Twinkl despite their school having a long-standing subscription to the website!

I had hoped that there would be slightly more time for teachers to explore some of the suggested weblinks and resources at their leisure.  It also provides me with an opportunity to circulate around the room and answer any questions that individuals have.  However, attendees were rather enthused by our starter activity and our guest speakers arrived slightly early, so we had to pause briefly for refreshments and then move swiftly on to the second half of the ‘main’ section, which concentrated on geography, history and literacy.  Whilst Ofsted have put emphasis on ‘reading across the curriculum’, I did not concentrate solely on this here; literacy encompasses writing, speaking and listening too.

The new ‘Leading Primary Geography Handbook’ ( has some chapters relating to literacy, which are well worth dipping into.  ‘The Everyday Guide to Primary Geography: Story’ ( has been an invaluable purchase for me; I have used it on numerous occasions, both in and beyond the classroom.  Kate Russell produced a document entitled ‘Story and non-fiction books from other places and cultures’ in conjunction with the Staffordshire Learning Net (SLN) some time ago, but there are some wonderful books listed that are still readily available today.  Teachwire created an amazing PDF called ‘How to teach 50 brilliant children’s books’ (, which also includes hundreds of activities for developing skills across the primary curriculum.   Teach Primary had a focus on ‘Teach reading and writing’ with a lovely link to ‘Paddington’, ‘Pebbles on the Beach’ and a ‘Young Poet’s Society’.  ‘The Boy at the Back of the Class’ was my summer holiday read and comes highly recommended; there are some associated teaching resources available to download via Teachit Primary’s website too (  Michael Morpurgo’s new book , ‘Boy Giant’, has strong geographical themes, e.g. conflict and migration, and Teachwire have produced some great resources to support its use in the classroom (  I shared a couple of articles that have appeared in previous editions of the GA’s Primary Geography journal ( and, which gave attention to the place of poetry.

TIDE promotes global learning; Ben Ballin gave me a couple of suggestions for Key Stage 1 (‘Start with a story’) and Key Stage 2 (‘A different story’ and ‘Fat felts and sugar paper) on their website (  Lily Dyer’s recent ‘Earth Heroes: 20 inspiring stories of people saving our world’ is hugely enlightening and thought-provoking; I learnt many things from the chapter about Greta Thunberg, for example.

Jon Cannell shared a new game with me, namely ‘The Great Never-Heard-the-Word Geography Game’, which he was hoping to trial in school the following week; this can be differentiated for use at Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2 and reinforces subject-specific vocabulary.  At Key Stage 3 and beyond, there is much focus on ‘speaking like a geographer’; I displayed a resource used in many secondary schools that primary teachers could easily adopt to promote pupils’ confidence.

Geography should be fun, so why not have a go at some literacy-related national competitions with your class?  The National Schools Partnership currently has one called ‘Ben Fogle’s Hero to Zero Emission Miles Challenge’ (, which would certainly appeal to primary-aged pupils.

‘The complete skeleton book for non-fiction text types’ by Sue Palmer ( has received 5 star reviews; one to invest in if writing is an area for development within your school, perhaps?

I had to make sure that I gave equal attention to history, so I linked to a PDF produced by Teachwire, which highlighted ’10 books to delve into history’; memorable children’s stories can certainly be a rich source of inspiration for writing, discussion and discovering more about the past.  Number 2 on their list was ‘Milly Molly Mandy’; I used a story from this series to ‘kick off’ a WW1 themed week at Hempsted C of E Primary School back in 2014 and the children loved it, as well as the detailed black and white sketches and map of the village.

The HA has a section dedicated to literacy on its website (  I discussed three recent articles that had appeared in their Primary History journal, which all took a text and exemplified how it could be used to support the teaching of history.  I had been very clever by including objects relating to these in my starter sacks earlier: a feather for ‘Ma’ats Feather’; ‘The Very Hungry Caterpillar’ book for ‘Time for a story’ and a ‘Horrible Histories’ book for ‘Using Horrible Histories to develop primary history and literacy’.  Furthermore, I directed teachers to The Week Junior’s website, where there is a wealth of material to download, e.g. lesson plans; pupil resources including non-fiction text (  Cross-curricular opportunities are clearly identified too, illustrating how history (or geography) can act as the ‘steering wheel’ for ‘driving’ a connected, creative curriculum in primary schools.

Unfortunately, the time allocated for individuals to explore the various web-links and resources had to be condensed as the afternoon was rapidly disappearing.  Next up were Nigel Hatten and Dame Janet Trotter from Gloucestershire County Council to talk about a new project that has been launched (‘Myself; My Place, My Future: My Gloucestershire’), which is investigating how they can improve the voice of young people within our county.  I was invited to attend a meeting prior to half-term where I learnt more about this and it seemed appropriate to ask both Nigel and Dame Janet to come along to our next Primary Humanities Network meeting to promote their activities more widely.  I think all of us learnt some new facts about our county too.

Finally, it was time to draw the session to a close with the obligatory post-it notes task; instant feedback is always welcome and proves to be invaluable to me when thinking about our next gathering.

Some of participants’ ‘concluding comments‘ can be found below; the event appears to have been both an enjoyable and beneficial experience to all.

‘Thank you for today, Emma; your enthusiasm and knowledge is inspiring.’

‘Resources; planning; Ofsted; Gloucestershire; sharing.’

‘Interesting resources; History Rocks!; Always spot on from you, Emma!’

‘Resources; networking; ideas; re-focus; My Place’.

‘Very informative; helpful; thought-provoking.’

‘Informative; good ideas for teaching; great access to resources.’

‘Loved the starter activity!’

‘Lots of ideas to implement and enhance history.’

‘Ideas for promoting environmental awareness.  A great networking opportunity.’

‘Thank you!  Very useful.  Good ideas for resources.  Lots of links to explore.’

‘Informative; reassuring; understandable; resourceful; thought-provoking.’

Useful information – resources, apps and schemes of work.  Lots of links to follow up and share with staff at school.’

‘Love the resource ideas – particularly the apps in the video.’

‘Promotion of articles; sign-posting of relevant information to support understanding.’

‘Lots of sharing of resources to use – ideas for things to put in at school.’

‘Lots more things to follow up on.’

‘Useful; informative; confidence boost; super resources.’

‘Resources; links; GA; HA; sequencing.’

‘Resources; ideas.’

‘Breaking down Ofsted Education Inspection Framework (EIF); resource ideas.’

‘Ideas how to link to literacy.  The books were brilliant!’

‘Good to come to another!’

‘Packed full of information on implementation.  Loved the technology in history aspect!’

‘Useful sign-posting to resources; fast-paced.’

‘Packed full of exciting, innovative ideas and links.  Fab!  Thank you!’

‘Jam-packed!  Informative. Inspirational. Thought-provoking.’

‘Fast-paced; action-packed; information overload.’

It was a fab meeting yesterday, left with lots of ideas and lots to think about.’

‘Thank you so much for Friday afternoon, it was lovely to be a part of it again.’

‘I really enjoyed sharing with you all on Friday afternoon.’

‘The visit from Dame Janet and Nigel was very thought provoking last Friday.’

‘… Thank you for the meeting last week; it was extremely useful and informative.’

Suggestions for future themes included:

  • More time to explore and share ideas.
  • Time to explore apps, etc. that were introduced.
  • Looking at literacy links.
  • Look at whole school curriculum.
  • How to plan an enquiry-based curriculum.
  • How to show progression.
  • Time to discuss sequencing with other small schools.
  • Schemes of work/unit specific ideas.
  • What a ‘deep dive’ will entail and the best ways to prepare for it.
  • How to assess without increasing workload.
  • Find out how others assess geography.

Many thanks to all at the Gloucestershire Heritage Hub for their support both prior to, and during, today’s event.

Our next Primary Humanities Network meeting will take place during the week commencing 13th January 2020.  I promise that it will be less jam-packed, with more time to explore and share best practice!  I will try to incorporate some of the above suggestions for future themes too.  Keep an eye on the blog and your e-mail inbox as further details will be sent very soon.

Good luck with your continued curriculum planning!

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