Hetal Trivedi, Geography Subject Leader at World’s End Junior School (https://worldsendjuniors.co.uk/), approached me earlier this week for a spot of advice regarding her continued whole school curriculum planning. It was suggested that we had a couple of virtual bespoke CPD sessions, so that we could address some of her concerns, identify areas for development, etc. Having these sessions a week or so apart allowed Hetal to go away and explore the many web-links and resources that I shared with her, come back with any questions that she had and enable me to answer them as comprehensively as I could.
The school are due to have an inspection by Ofsted imminently, so Hetal was very keen to ensure that geography was all in order.
Firstly, we looked at a blog post report written by Iain Freeland HMI, Ofsted’s Subject Lead for Geography, relating to ‘Geography in outstanding primary schools‘ (https://educationinspection.blog.gov.uk/author/iain-freeland-hmi-ofsteds-subject-lead-for-geography/). Between January and March 2020, Ofsted carried out 23 geography subject inspections of primary schools. The schools were selected at random from those that were graded as outstanding at their most recent inspection. These inspections were carried out to further develop Ofsted’s understanding of the primary curriculum, better understand strong curriculum management in primary leadership and identify good practice at subject level. Whilst many strengths were noted, several areas for development were also recognised.
The recent research review for geography is also very enlightening (https://www.gov.uk/government/news/ofsted-publishes-research-review-on-geography). This review explored the literature relating to the field of geography education. Its purpose was to identify the nature of high-quality geography education in schools. Ofsted reviewed pedagogical approaches, assessment practices and the impact whole-school policies and systems have on geography education. Although the report is quite lengthy and takes time to digest, it is worth having a read of the introduction, sections concerning primary education and early years foundation stage and the conclusion; this gives a good insight into what high-quality geography looks like.
I also referenced some of the slides from Ofsted’s Curriculum Roadshow for the South West (https://www.gloucestershire.gov.uk/media/2110049/ofsted_curriculum_roadshow_240921.pdf). The opening slides concentrate upon the curriculum: knowledge and progress, before Ofsted’s curriculum unit and catch up are mentioned. I then skipped through to Iain Freeland’s presentation, which focused on ‘our journey so far’, the difference between substantive and disciplinary knowledge, the four key elements of the former, ‘recovery’, curriculum research reviews, curriculum blogs and, lastly, a summary. In the latter, Iain emphasised that:
- Pupils get better at geography in four main areas of knowledge: locational, place, physical and human geography and geographical skills.
- When thinking about catch up, it is useful to remember: assess, identify, integrate and memory.
- Do take a look at our geography research review and blog.
Iain Freeland also presented at the Royal Geographical Society (RGS-IBG)’s CPD event last Tuesday, entitled ‘Ofsted’s approach to evaluating subject-level curriculum at primary level’ (https://www.rgs.org/events/autumn-2021/ofsted%E2%80%99s-approach-to-evaluating-subject-level-curr/). This reinforced many of the points that we had discussed in our first bespoke CPD session last week. However, there were a few additional messages to convey to Hetal.
Hetal had some questions regarding assessment, so I projected some slides from our previous Primary Humanities Network meeting when we had explored ‘How do we best assess pupils?‘. We analysed the Geographical Association (GA)’s ‘A progression framework for geography‘ in some depth (https://www.geography.org.uk/eBooks-detail/71c435a8-c548-4e38-80db-2305275fbee5) as it includes benchmark expectations for the end of Key Stage 1, Lower Key Stage 2, Upper Key Stage 2 and beyond, as well as guidance on creating a manageable planning and assessment system in school.
In a bespoke CPD session with Hetal earlier this year, we concentrated on coverage of the National Curriculum programme of study for geography at Key Stage 2 and the most appropriate sequencing of content to ensure that there was clearly an element of progression from Year 3 to Year 6. Presently, geography is taught as a discrete subject for two out of six terms in any given year group. Hetal had produced some medium term plans and wished to seek my views on them. I was impressed with what she had created, but proposed a couple of ways in which she could make the geography more ‘rigorous’. Hetal was worried that some year groups have too long a gap without any substantial geography, so it was suggested that she looked at how geographical concepts and skills may be incorporated into those terms where the theme may have more of a science or history lead.
Time was later allotted to looking at geographical skills and fieldwork and where these were integrated into each year group. Hetal was keen to ensure progression from Lower Key Stage 2 to Upper Key Stage 2. We discussed at length how this could be achieved and I referred her to a number of documents recently published by the Geographical Association (GA), either in their Primary Geography journal or on their website (https://www.geography.org.uk/). There was also a Geog Live 2 session linked to fieldwork that I suggested she went away and watched for further inspiration (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qfT1yvDvjvo).
Judging by Hetal’s ‘concluding comments’, I think she found the sessions to be a worthwhile investment of her time and geography budget.
‘As before, the sessions with Emma were really useful! It offered me a good insight into Ofsted expectations for geography as a subject in primary and also gave me some ideas regarding carrying out assessments. Many thanks!’.