INSET: Westbrook Primary School, Hounslow, London

Consultancy

So, it was straight back to it for me after all the Christmas and New Year festivities!  Today, it was time to meet staff at Westbrook Primary School in Hounslow, London (https://www.westbrookprimary.com/) (albeit virtually) to support staff in developing their geographical skills and gaining some ideas for quick, easy, cost-effective, impacting and purposeful fieldwork.

After the usual welcome and introductions, I outlined the aims of and agenda for the morning.  We then embarked upon our starter, with a spot of interactivity too!  I asked delegates to consider a few questions related to geographical skills and fieldwork, before positioning themselves along a continuum line (from not very important to very important) in response to the following question: Are geographical skills and fieldwork important?All placed themselves towards ‘very important’, thankfully, and were able to justify why they did so too.  I then delved into Ofsted’s research review of geography, particularly the introduction and subsequent sections focusing on the curriculum and geographical skills and fieldwork.  I drew delegates’ attention to the features of a high-quality geography education, as emphasised by Ofsted and one of the leading subject associations, the Geographical Association (GA).

Session 1 focused on geographical skills, particularly those referring to maps.  I unpicked the EYFS Framework and National Curriculum programme of study for geography at Key Stages 1 and 2 to highlight the progression that should clearly be evident within schools.  I directed participants towards a number of useful documents, resources and web-links, before introducing various activities to enable them to practice geographical skills and boost their confidence ahead of teaching pupils, as well as sharing examples of best practice.

Next, we had a short break for refreshments.  This also provided an opportunity for individuals to ask me any questions that they had.

Session 2 explored quick, easy, cost-effective, impacting and purposeful ideas for fieldwork.  I referenced Alan Parkinson’s ‘Everyday geographies‘ theme from the Geographical Association (GA)’s last annual conference, which highlighted that you do not have to go very far to give pupils a memorable and meaningful fieldwork experience.  This theme carried through to their WorldWise Week 2022.  Stephen Scoffham’s and Steve Rawlinson’s session (‘Entangled worlds: geography and sustainability in classroom contexts‘) was mentioned too as it introduced some other ideas, such as emotional mapping, the meaningful maps project and 8 way thinkingNational Fieldwork Week 2022 outlined a range of potential practical activities and included the following pertinent quote: ‘Remember to make sure the visit is enjoyable and fun – pupils will remember it for a long time to come.’  GeogLive!8, hosted back in April 2022 by the GA’s Early Years Primary Phase Committee (EYPPC), showcased ten, superb, innovative fieldwork activities, which we looked at in turn this morning.  I also suggested that teachers sifted through the Royal Geographical Society (RGS-IBG)’s and Digimap for Schools’ websites, where there are a wealth of fieldwork resources (https://www.rgs.org/schools/teaching-resources/?categories=Keystage1&loadall=0&pageindex=1&searchterm=fieldwork and https://digimapforschools.edina.ac.uk/learning-resources/).  In addition, I proposed that staff contemplated the virtual and projected a few forthcoming experiences on offer, i.e. https://create2inspire.co.uk/2022/12/08/virtual-multi-schools-event-wicked-weather-watch-www/ and https://stepintotheamazon.co.uk/2022/11/08/what-makes-the-amazon-so-amazing/.  Schools may apply to the Frederick Soddy Trust for an award to support local fieldwork initiatives (https://www.rgs.org/in-the-field/in-the-field-grants/expedition-grants/frederick-soddy-awards/); however, you will need to act quickly as the deadline is fast approaching!

Following some time for independent perusing of the various afore-mentioned resources and web-links, plus discussions in Key Stage or year groups, we reconvened for the plenary.  Firstly, I challenged participants to the below activity, adapted from Mrs Humanities’ kindly shared resource (https://mrshumanities.com/2016/03/31/50-tl-secret-mission-cards/):

Finally, attendees were requested to complete a Google Form, summing up the morning in five words or a sentence or two, listing their top three ‘takeaways’ from the morning, rating the session, identifying what went well (WWW) and what they enjoyed the most, even better if (EBI) and what they found least enjoyable.  Fortunately, suggestions for the latter were few and far between.  Some of their ‘concluding comments‘ can be viewed below:

  • Very informative with lots of resources.
  • Informative mapwork.
  • A great way to gain resources to implement the teaching of geography effectively.
  • Good map and co-ordinates recap.
  • Very informative.  Relevant for the teaching of geographical skills.
  • Useful to see how we can incorporate mapping skills and fieldwork into less obvious topics.
  • It was a great event that helped deepen my knowledge of how to support and foster children’s interests specifically in map skills.
  • The event was very informative and showed different ways to incorporate geographical skills in lessons.
  • A really interesting delivery with some good ideas to be used across the school.
  • Encouraging; insightful; in-depth; collaborative.
  • Useful; engaging; recapping skills; fieldwork; cross-curricular.
  • Interactive and informative. Useful and engaging with practical, cheap ideas that can be easily implemented.
  • Engaging; cross-curricular; interesting; fun.
  • Geographical skills,; Digimap for Schools; emotional geography; engaging; cross-curricular.
  • Useful to learn about primary attainment expectations in geography, with links to many relevant resources and websites.
  • Today’s session was very beneficial.
  • Great suggestions for fieldwork and valuable resources given.
  • Useful; insightful; interesting and collaborative.
  • Insightful; relevant; thought-provoking; challenging; interactive; fun.
  • Great INSET with some useful resources.
  • Very informative and practical.  Has developed my understanding.
  • Informative; useful; creative; interactive and different.
  • It was very informative and useful.  I feel more confident with teaching map skills and how to organise local fieldwork.

Following lunch, teachers were allotted time to chat further with colleagues within their Key Stage or year group.  Hopefully, they had gained some inspiration as to how to integrate geographical skills and fieldwork into teaching and learning for the remainder of this academic year and beyond.  I look forward to seeing evidence of, and hearing about, their ventures!

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