Not quite the same as face-to-face, but virtual does the job well for now!

Primary Humanities Network meeting (Term 1; 2020-2021)


Thanks to Zoom, our first Primary Humanities Network meeting of this academic year was able to go ahead with the theme of ‘Assessment, including moderation of pupils’ work’.  After welcoming attendees, some familiar faces and several new ones, I outlined the aims and structure of the meeting:

To begin with, I focused on the latest developments; not only items from the Department for Education (DfE) and local county council, but also from the leading subject organisations and other bodies.  Gloucestershire County Council’s (GCC) Schoolsnet Bulletin Board recently provided an update on Ofsted visits and this was discussed in more detail in the September briefing for Head Teachers ( and  I drew attention to those aspects that may affect Subject Leaders and classroom teachers in particular, namely the actual visit and the areas of focus.  A few participants are based in schools that are early adopters of the new EYFS Framework; others are scheduled to implement this from September 2021 (  In early September, the DfE published the document ‘Development Matters’, which provides support on how to deliver the new EYFS Framework (  This is well worth perusing if you are an EYFS class teacher, either in an early adopter or other establishment, as it contains some great teaching and learning ideas and pointers for assessment.

There is much talk about a ‘recovery curriculum’ at this moment in time.  Over the summer, CLPE launched their ‘recovery curriculum for primary schools’; teaching notes for ‘Here We Are: Notes for Planet Earth’ written by Oliver Jeffers, one of my favourite children’s authors (, and  It consists of ten lessons that are designed to be delivered over a two-week period at the start of the academic year.  Some individuals had already done this and were able to share their first-hand experiences with others.  However, the content is such that it could be used at a later date as part of a year- or whole school-themed fortnight.  In conjunction with the return to school, Teachwire produced the following article (; there are some superb materials to download here for all ages and aspects of the whole school curriculum.  When contemplating your next ‘class reads’, you may gain some inspiration from the Teach Primary Book Awards 2020 shortlists (  At the start of the academic year, many may be considering becoming a member of a subject association.  Bev Forrest, Chair of the Historical Association (HA)’s Primary Committee, recently wrote an informative and thought-provoking article about the benefits to be had; you may find it answers any questions you have too.

It is always worth spending some time sharing the latest news from the leading subject associations.  The Geographical Association (GA) have just announced the commencement of Season 2 of GeogPod, their podcast (  Whilst this is probably more suited to secondary school teachers and beyond, there are some teaching and learning-focused episodes that may be worth dipping into.  The GA have also been promoting their CPD packs, with several new ones being added of late; these are designed for teachers to use in school with colleagues and contain a range of activities that can be adapted to suit the context, the amount of time available and a particular school’s needs (  I emphasised its message that ‘geography matters’ and referred to a number of documents and articles that provided suggestions as to how to make use of the school grounds and local area, as well as its links to well-being.  ‘In the News: topical teaching ideas’ was also given a mention and an extract from Banks Lane Junior School’s Primary Geography Quality Mark (PGQM) Gold Award was projected to exemplify best practice.

Geography southwest, a resource hub for teachers and student, is growing as we speak.  Do visit the primary section, especially the ‘Primary News’ page, to keep abreast of subject-specific developments, as well as learn about new resources, useful websites, competitions, CPD events, pupil workshops, etc. ( and

Those at Digimap for Schools have been working hard during lockdown to create new resources for their online library (  The ‘locational knowledge for primary’ resources are receiving very positive reviews at present; co-written by Simon Catling and myself (  Do let me know if you use them in your classroom and provide some feedback.

So that EYFS class teachers did not feel left out, I linked to an article about creating an eco-friendly learning environment (; these ideas could be applied across Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2 too.

For those in Gloucestershire, the ‘Of Earth and Sky’ project is well worth exploring (  This initiative could be replicated in other counties or regions or at a smaller scale within a village or school, perhaps?

Ofsted’s Education Inspection Framework (EIF) is keen to promote ‘reading across the curriculum’.  I came across this feed whilst perusing Twitter during the summer holidays, which has numerous books listed (  ‘A picture can say a thousand words’ and this certainly rings true in these picture books (  Pupils should explore non-fiction text as well; Plazoom’s Topical Tuesdays collection is worth delving into for this (  The Economist Educational Foundation has just launched ‘News Cycle’ with some cracking resources and activities; do look out for a theme that illustrates ‘geography in the News’ (

Teachers often lack confidence when introducing GIS at Key Stage 2; why not make use of ARCGIS’ ‘Living Atlas and Indicators of the Planet’ to locate and discuss a range of current global issues (  Explore the British Council’s eTwinning climate change challenge too; it encourages pupils to build on their climate change learning by taking positive action through the completion of up to 20 challenges, which increase in difficulty as students progress (  Global Dimension have just published their latest global learning wall planner, which identifies global days and celebrations across the academic year to help educators engage their pupils in global learning and global citizenship; if you cannot display items on the wall at present, then simply download as your desktop’s wallpaper (  The world’s largest lesson is having a makeover; its theme, ‘The pandemic is a portal; time for a reset?’, is hugely topical (  Their learning focus for this year is climate change.  They intend to add to the existing resources over the next year to enable teachers to engage all their students in meaningful learning and action for climate and the environment (  British Council’s Connecting Classrooms through global learning has a bank of global learning resources to explore; they plan to upload new resources on well-being and climate change practices over the coming months too ( and  The Empathy Museum’s ‘A mile in my shoes’ is back (  Individuals are invited to walk a mile in someone else’s shoes; the stories cover different aspects of life, from loss and grief to hope and love, and take the visitor on an empathic, as well as physical journey.  In order to celebrate the global citizens and young pioneers of tomorrow, Pearson have launched the ‘World Changer Awards’; take a look at their website to find out details of how to enter (  There is quite a bit of ‘free stuff’ on Mr A, C and D’s website (; I particularly like their UK and world book maps ( and and you may gain some inspiration from their sample mini quizzes and knowledge organisers.

The Historical Association (HA) have been promoting ‘reading across the curriculum’ too.  Over the summer, they published a FREE resource for primary members, which explores historical fiction and how we can use it in our teaching and learning ( In light of current developments, the HA has decided to take their annual conference online with more than 40 speakers signed up to date.  Have a look at their website for further details (  Additional CPD opportunities are advertised; a new calendar of webinars for 2020/21, covering concepts in primary history and support for boosting subject knowledge ( and, as well as the Primary Teacher Fellowship Programme: Local history, which has the bonus of being fully-funded (  Those at the HA have been working hard and produced a resource aimed at Subject Leaders, which attempts to capture the various aspects of primary history by providing a detailed listing of articles under seven main themes (  Another piece that Subject Leaders’ should peruse is ‘The bigger picture: The wider world’, in which Alf Wilkinson discusses the challenges that need to be overcome, what Subject Leaders need to consider when planning the bigger picture and some examples of good practice (  Class teachers may find the resource sharing hub useful (  Two schemes of work have recently been updated too, namely one focusing on the Stone Age to Iron Age ( and the other based on the life of Walter Tull (  The National Curriculum specifies a local study at Key Stages 1 and 2.  Concentrating your local study around an individual is a great means of bringing the heritage of your locality to life.  Explore the following page/s for some inspiration:  Their historical anniversaries calendar has close links with ‘cultural capital’ a key aspect of Ofsted’s Education Inspection Framework (EIF) and a school’s values curriculum (  Teachit History have a similar version too, which you may prefer to refer to instead (  They also have a number of resources aimed at easing transition from primary to secondary (  If you study WWII, then take a look at Bletchley Park’s website as there are a number of virtual sessions on offer to schools; an alternative for having to cancel a school trip under the present circumstances, perhaps? (

Before moving on to the main part of the meeting, I paused for 15 minutes, so that participants could re-visit some of my suggested websites and resources and I could respond to their comments in the chat feed or answer any questions that they had.

In order to stimulate thinking about assessment and moderation, I invited attendees to complete the ‘question generator’ activity below:

Afterwards, I outlined how they could use such an activity with the pupils that they teach; it is a fantastic way of setting up a pupil-led enquiry.

Assessment and moderation may have to be adapted somewhat due to Covid-19 and I shared with teachers some thoughts about this (,,,, and

Next, we looked at the GA’s guidance on progression and assessment in geography (, including reference to the National Curriculum programme of study for geography at Key Stages 1 and 2 (, Rising Stars’ Progression Frameworks written in conjunction with the leading subject associations ( and the invaluable six page document, entitled ‘A progression framework for geography’ and available to purchase from their shop (

So that History Subject Leaders did not feel left out, I linked to their advice regarding assessment (, ‘zooming in’ on several of the suggested articles, as well as Jamie Byrom’s infamous ‘’Progression in history under the 2014 National Curriculum’ ( and the National Curriculum programmes of study for history at Key Stages 1 and 2 (  David Weatherly’s ‘Working as a Geographer/Historian’ and ‘Progression in Geography/History’ have to be mentioned here too (

I deemed it appropriate to showcase some examples of assessment.  The RGS’ website has some superb, FREE schemes of work, associated resources and samples of pupils’ work to download and I selected one that I have recommended to many schools (,-volcanoes-and-earthquakes/).  David Weatherly had very kindly shared units from Harper Collins’ Primary Connected Geography and History with me prior to this afternoon’s event (  We looked at one geography and history enquiry, deliberately taken from different Key Stages, to see how assessment had been effectively embedded into the unit of work.  Furthermore, I displayed examples of units from Rising Stars’ new History and Geography, sent to me by their representative Jane Tyler, to highlight their assessment opportunities, aptly referred to as the ‘Big Finish’.  If you are a Geography Subject Leader, then you may like to take a peek at Oddizzi’s website as it has 21 assessment papers to assess pupils’ knowledge and understanding at the end of each topic (htps://  Jenni Cooke, Oddizzi’s founder, would be more than happy to answer any questions that you might have or offer you a free trial (

I gave delegates half an hour to explore the above over a cup of coffee or tea (sadly, there was no home-made cake provided by myself on this occasion!) and, again, I attempted to answer questions and respond to comments in the chat feed.

A good few minutes were allocated to the below activity, although we could have spent much longer; this may be something to refer to in another Primary Humanities Network meeting:

I shared a few tips from my experience in schools too.

To conclude, we finished with the following two activities:

Some of their ‘concluding comments’ and suggestions for future meeting themes can be found below:

‘Concluding comments’:

Lots of useful links to explore and information to develop/tweak our assessment in geography.  Thank you.’

‘Thank you – that was great.  Really useful.’            

‘Informative, interesting and helpful.  Thank you.’

‘Thank you.  Lots to ponder.’

‘Useful, relevant and informative.  I have more idea of progression through the subjects and what assessment should look like.’

‘It has made me evaluate our assessment and given me new ideas to try.’

‘A wealth of resources and ideas to take away with me.  Thanks!’

‘Raised many questions about how we tackle assessment.’

‘Informative with lots of ideas of how I can take history forward in terms of assessment in my school.’

‘Very informative.  Feel more in the loop and given me direction for leading geography and history.’

‘Very useful links to current articles and websites linked to history and geography.’

‘Informative; useful; helpful.  Thank you.’

‘I feel supported.  Thank you.’                      

‘Informative; lots of useful resources, as always.’

‘Lots of amazing resources to use!  Thank you.’

‘Focused; informative; gave me some ideas for planning and gathering resources. Thank you.’

‘Helpful; useful resource links; assessment ideas; differentiation between key stages and current issues identified.  Thank you very much!’

‘Very insightful for a complete newbie to subject leadership!  Thank you for some great resources!’

‘Useful links!  Lots to think about.’

‘Given me plenty to do!’

‘Very helpful for our new plan for assessing history and geography.  Lots of resources to share with staff.’

‘Lots of great resources to look at.  Thank you.’

‘Interesting and helpful resources.  Thanks.’

‘Loads of useful links – so much to look through.’

‘I have much to reflect on with regards to progression and assessment across all key stages.  Thank you, Emma.’

‘An overwhelming amount of information that I know will be invaluable for me once I’ve processed and worked out what I need to start with first!  Thank you, Emma.’

‘Thanks again for the very useful in sight into assessment.’

‘I just wanted to say that I really enjoyed the Zoom meeting last week and found it very useful.’

Suggestions for future meeting themes: 

  • Planning for EYFS in early adopter schools.
  • A bank of quality historical sources that teachers can use for a future theme.
  • How to better sequence a whole school geography curriculum;
  • Further examples on assessment – how to create assessment tasks, etc.
  • Some specific assessment activity ideas.
  • Baseline assessment ideas.
  • Moderation.
  • Developing enquiry in geography.
  • Geography teachers to share some creative ideas for lessons, including examples of games or activities.
  • What does progress look like in pupils’ work – examples of WTS, ARE and GD history.
  • What WTS, EXP and GD looks like.

All in all, not a bad way to end another very busy week!

Our next Primary Humanities Network meeting will take place in mid-November; details will appear on this blog site shortly and will be e-mailed to all contacts within my database too.  Hope you are able to join us; the more, the merrier! In the interim, take care and stay safe in these somewhat dynamic and unprecedented times.













Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.