Virtual Primary Humanities Network (PHN) meeting (Term 2)

ConsultancyWorkshops

Despite offering a face-to-face and virtual option for our second Primary Humanities Network meeting of this academic year, the majority chose online or requested a link to the recording of the meeting, plus a copy of the chat feed and the accompanying resources to be sent so that they could listen to/peruse these at a more convenient time.  With over 80 individuals reserving a place and more than 60 attending in ‘real time’, some ‘regulars’ and several ‘newbies’, there was certainly a buzz on Zoom this afternoon, both in the main meeting and our ‘breakout rooms’!

The theme for today’s event (‘What are the features of a high-quality geography education?’) was decided after reviewing the many ‘concluding comments’ from our last Primary Humanities Network meeting in September, as well as considering what was being  debated in the media and by the leading subject associations, namely the Geographical Association (GA) (https://www.geography.org.uk/), Royal Geographical Society with IBG (RGS-IBG) (https://www.rgs.org/) and the Historical Association (HA) (https://www.history.org.uk/).

After introducing myself and outlining the aims and structure of the meeting, I provided a comprehensive ‘educational round-up‘ of the latest hot topics for discussion, developments, useful websites, new resources (plenty of which were FREE to access), opportunities, competitions, etc.

Mark Stead, National Learning Manager for the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust and based at WWT Slimbridge in Gloucestershire (wwt.org.uk), spoke for around ten minutes about their ‘Generation Wild‘ initiative (www.generationwild.org.uk).  Several schools attending this afternoon’s session should be eligible to access the FREE funding on offer and, thus, provide an opportunity for youngsters to engage with nature.

Attendees were then given ten minutes or so to digest the many items that both Mark and I had shared, bookmark those that were particularly relevant to themselves and their school, as well as pose any questions that they had to either us or other individuals present.  I always endeavour to build such time into our meetings as I know from experience just how consuming life in the classroom can be; good intentions often go by the wayside as there always seems to be more pressing issues to deal with.

Next, participants were put into ‘breakout rooms‘ to discuss the question, ‘Why is knowledge important?‘.  I was conscious to try and group individuals according to their Key Stage and drop into each room in turn to listen to the conversations taking place; very enlightening and engaging.

We had some interesting answers added to the chat feed on their return to the main meeting room too:

  • Knowledge is important as it helps you have an understanding of the world around you.  You can begin to solve problems if you have knowledge.  Knowledge is important as it helps you gain vocabulary to be able to communicate.
  • Knowledge is important because it enables us to build a range of skills, be it problem solving, communication or interaction with the wider world around us.
  • Knowledge is important because it helps us to gain understanding, build connections, supports cultural capital and make sense of the world.
  • Knowledge is important because it is the building blocks from where we can ask questions, develop opinions and make sense of the world around us.
  • Knowledge is important because it builds upon itself, creating a foundation to continue learning, making links, enables critical thinking and supports first hand experiences.
  • Knowledge is important because it allows for all children to see and understand the world around us.  It opens doorways to children who would not normally get the chance to see and develops exploration and experiences.

The main part of the meeting referenced some of the slides from Ofsted’s recent roadshow in the south west region, especially those relating to knowledge and specific to geography (https://www.gloucestershire.gov.uk/schoolsnet/noticeboard/schoolsnet-bulletin-board/ofsted-curriculum-roadshow-south-west-presentation-slides-240921/).  I also pointed individuals in the direction of Iain Freeland’s fantastic presentation at Geog Live! 4 (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W5oNnPqqjiw) and his chat with John Lyon for Episode 31 of GeogPod (https://www.geography.org.uk/GeogPod-The-GAs-Podcast).  We explored the suggested post within Ofsted’s blog in depth, which clearly highlights the relevance of geography within the whole school curriculum, the many strengths and areas for improvement that were identified at primary level (https://educationinspection.blog.gov.uk/2021/05/11/geography-in-outstanding-primary-schools/).  Later, I accessed Ofsted’s research review for geography, a very lengthy document from which I extracted the key points relevant to those teaching from EYFS to Key Stage 2 (https://www.gov.uk/government/news/ofsted-publishes-research-review-on-geography).  The GA has some great material to support the development of disciplinary knowledge, e.g. ‘thinking geographically‘, which I suggested participants dipped into as well (https://www.geography.org.uk/Thinking-geographically).  Again, we paused for ten minutes or so to allow delegates time to absorb what had been emphasised or discussed.

There was a short break for refreshments, before I launched the below activity:

We spent a few minutes looking at the new EYFS Framework (https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/early-years-foundation-stage-framework–2), Development Matters documentation (https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/development-matters–2) and National Curriculum programme of study for geography at Key Stages 1 and 2 (https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/239044/PRIMARY_national_curriculum_-_Geography.pdf) together.  The GA’s online shop has a superb document, entitled ‘A progression framework for geography‘, that is well worth purchasing if you have not done so already (https://www.geography.org.uk/eBooks-detail/71c435a8-c548-4e38-80db-2305275fbee5).  Take a look at their Primary Geography Spring 2021 edition too, in which Julie Tanner has written a comprehensive and hugely inspiring article about ‘Progression in geographical fieldwork experiences‘ (https://www.geography.org.uk/Journals/Primary-Geography).   For those requiring further support with fieldwork, I suggested that they spent an hour viewing Geog Live! 2 (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qfT1yvDvjvo) and saved their pennies to buy ‘The Everyday Guide to Primary Geography: Local Fieldwork‘ from the GA’s online shop (https://www.geography.org.uk/Shop/The-Everyday-Guide-to-Primary-Geography-Fieldwork/9781843773672). Hopefully, I catered for everyone’s needs and interests in some form or another!  After teachers had contemplated the three questions on the slide, they were encouraged to respond to each other via the chat feed and could unmute themselves if they wished to ask questions, discuss any specific concerns that they had, etc.

Taking inspiration from ‘Mrs Humanities‘ and her ‘secret mission cards‘ (https://mrshumanities.com/2016/03/31/50-tl-secret-mission-cards/), I challenged delegates to the following task:

Some of their ‘teaching and learning missions’ can be seen below:

  • To undertake a field trip.
  • To learn more about progression maps across the school.
  • To create playdough maps.
  • To look at messy maps linked to our local area.
  • To deliver CPD to support the whole school approach of teaching geography.
  • To factor in EYFS to our progression maps (currently start at KS1).
  • To use our woodland for geography in EYFS.
  • To audit the progression of fieldwork in school.
  • To use COP-26 resources.
  • To carry out some local fieldwork and collect data that helps the children to develop their understanding of their local environment.
  • To factor EYFS into progression and raise staff confidence in teaching geography.
  • To share and explore Kid Correspondence on YouTube with Year 2/Eco-Warriors.
  • To arrange a trip to a WWT centre.  Check out ‘Generation Wild’.
  • To provide regular opportunities to discuss what is going on in the world.
  • To conduct a staff meeting on progression from EYFS through to Year 6.  Make sure all staff know the progression route.
  • To get our Eco Coordinator involved with the COP-26 ideas.
  • To look at progression of geography throughout school and factor in EYFS.
  • To look at sequencing of knowledge across the school.
  • To inspire all our staff to participate in fieldwork confidently.

The meeting ended in the usual way; attendees were invited to leave their ‘concluding comments‘ via the chat feed or in an e-mail addressed to myself.

A number of their responses can be viewed below:

Sum up today’s meeting in five words/sentence or two:

  • … so much helpful information there to ponder.
  • Thank you for all the useful links.
  • Thank you.  It’s been really informative.
  • Thank you for today’s meeting, I’ve found it very useful!
  • Informative; resourceful; helpful; appropriate; engaging.
  • Packed full of ideas/resources.
  • Very informative and supportive for a new Subject Leader.
  • Lots of useful/current resources.
  • Has provided many useful links for new lead teachers.
  • Informative, detailed, inspiring food for thought.
  • Great for pinpointing resources for Geography Subject Leaders.
  • A wealth of information.
  • Lots of balls to catch! (But all good!)
  • A whistle-stop tour of a variety of great geography resources.
  • A lot for us to think about.
  • Lots of fantastic, current resources.
  • Excellent recommendations in terms of documents to read and resources to look into.
  • So inspiring, informative and lots of fun ideas to refresh our curriculum.
  • Good resources for leads and staff across school!
  • Informative; supportive; inspiring; great resources; good up-to-date knowledge.  Thank you.
  • Current ideas and thinking – refreshing to get new ideas.
  • Informative; useful; current.
  • A jam-packed two hours of a wealth of knowledge and resources providing much food for thought!
  • You left no stone unturned!
  • Inspiring; full of resources; lots to think about.
  • Thank you very much. Very helpful.
  • Wow – amazing for £25.  Makes it so much more accessible.  Thank you.
  • Thank you very much, Emma!  Much to take back to staff and look forward to the next one!
  • Thank you, Emma!  It’s been great!
  • Thank you – amazing!
  • Thank you, Emma, another really informative session!
  • Thank you so much.  So useful.
  • Thank you.  A very useful and informative network meeting.
  • Thank you; really, really helpful.
  • So much to think about; inspiring ideas.
  • Current; informative; overload (🙈. Sorry!
  • I just wanted to say thank you so much for the meeting we have just finished.  I’ve just taken over geography for my school and was so daunted by it all.  I have found this meeting so informative as there is just so much available online to search through and not enough time to look for specifics to suit my needs.  Thank you for sharing all those resources with us, an excellent use of £25.
  • Thank you again for your support and session today.
  • Thank you for sending over all of the resources – so much useful information!
  • Thank you so much for the meeting and for sorting me out at the last minute.  Having watched it through, it has really helped me with my thinking and clarified my next steps for an overhaul of our Geography curriculum.  I’ll be watching it again over the weekend and then making plans.  I think we’ll need to go down the route of a purchased curriculum for support that our teachers can then move away from and personalise for us.  Exciting times – thank you – and I hope to join you again next term.
  • I have just watched the meeting and it was fantastic and had so many ideas.  Thank you so much.
  • Thank you so much for recording the meeting. 
  • Can I just say how informative the recording is; its packed with information. 🙂
  • Thank you so much for the meeting today.  I am feeling a bit overwhelmed from it, but am hoping to go away and slowly digest all the information and, hopefully, be able to use it soon.

Possible themes for future Primary Humanities Network meetings:

  • Fieldwork.
  • Assessment.
  • Developing a curriculum example, so teachers planning geography for the term know what they should include/it should look like.
  • How to design a whole school curriculum.
  • Lots of information which has got me thinking – would love to be able to ‘meet’ with everyone and map out a curriculum plan for our schools, looking at skills/knowledge and progression.
  • Deep dives
  • Geographical skills development.
  • What does good geography look like in books? 
  • SEND and differentiation.
  • Moderation of standards.

An enjoyable and worthwhile afternoon for many, it seems, within another very busy week!

Details about our next Primary Humanities Network meeting in mid-January will be posted on the blog and be distributed via e-mail and social media feeds within the next couple of weeks.  Keep the afternoons of Friday 14th and Friday 21st January 2022 free if you possibly can; it would be great to have you all on board again.

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