With Term 4 now underway, it was time for our second Primary Geography Subject Leader Network meeting of this academic year, again held in situ at The Pavilion in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire. My right wing for today was the fantastic Sandra Parker, Performance Advisor for the Education Outcomes and Intervention team at Gloucestershire County Council (GCC); her administrative and organisational skills were impeccable. Also on board were more than 30 teachers from schools across the county.
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 Mark Enser HMI Geography Subject Lead’s recent webinar, especially aspects relating to geographical skills and fieldwork and his key takeaways from its three components. I also emphasised what one of the leading subject associations, the Geographical Association (GA), had to write about fieldwork in their ‘Aspiring to high-quality geography‘ report, a collation of Primary Geography Quality Mark (PGQM) moderator feedback from a number of cohorts, and their latest Primary Update e-newsletter.
Session 1 focused on geographical skills, particularly those referring to maps. To begin with, we looked at coverage, sequencing and progression that should be evident within schools, ‘unpicking’ the EYFS Framework and National Curriculum programme of study for geography at Key Stages 1 and 2. I directed participants towards a number of useful documents, resources and web-links, before introducing various activities to enable them to hone their 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 thinking. National 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.’ I pointed out the recently advertised Fieldwork Fortnight 2023, which is taking place from 26th June to 7th July 2023, alongside a couple of updates and relevant articles in the Spring 2023 editions of the GA’s Magazine and their Primary Geography journal. 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 discussed briefly. 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. 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; one for Subject Leaders to add to their action plans for the next academic year.
Following some time for independent perusing of the various afore-mentioned resources and web-links, in addition to discussions in small groups to share successful fieldwork activities that had been conducted, places that had been visited or experiences had, 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 Microsoft Form, rating the session, identifying what went well (WWW) and what they enjoyed the most, plus even better if (EBI) and what they found least enjoyable.
An enjoyable and productive morning for many it seems judging by some of their ‘concluding comments‘ below:
Lots of great lesson ideas using maps.
Really useful. We got a lot of time to explore resources and consider how to use them in our own school.
Lots of information to take away and look at, as usual.
Practical, useful and lots of resources to try out.
Informative; useful; great ideas to try out.
Very informative. Current research and ideas linked to the curriculum. Ofsted rich. Good focus on EYFS.
Informative; useful and hands-on.
Good range of activity ideas.
Useful, whistle-stop tour of fieldwork ideas and resources.
Helpful, as always. Thank you!
Informative about a range of fieldwork activities that could be completed in each Key Stage.
An informative session with lots of helpful pointers.
Informative and enjoyable.
Honestly, a great morning and very refreshing. This has been something that I have been wanting to attend for a long time. Very excited to practice.
Lots of things to read and look at.
I look forward to seeing you all on Tuesday 23rd May 2023 for our final gathering of this academic year.