Now that Term 4 is in full swing, it was time for the second of our virtual Primary Geography Subject Leader Network meetings of this academic year. Over 75 individuals were on board; many ‘regulars’, as well as some new faces too from all over the UK. The theme of our meeting, geographical skills and fieldwork, was obviously a popular one as all tickets were sold via Eventbrite within a couple of days. Whilst we were waiting for everyone to join the Zoom meeting, I suggested that participants perused the latest edition of geography southwest’s Primary Newsbites (https://www.geographysouthwest.co.uk/primary/primary-news/); lots of teaching ideas, links to new resources, useful web-links, CPD opportunities, events for pupils and freebies included.
After the usual welcome and introductions, I outlined the aims and agenda for the morning before challenging delegates to two starter activities.
Next, I delved into Ofsted’s research review on geography, particularly the section entitled ‘curriculum‘, to emphasise points raised in relation to geographical skills and fieldwork (https://www.gov.uk/government/news/ofsted-publishes-research-review-on-geography). I also referenced Mark Enser HMI’s recent webinar, ‘Subject curriculum insights for primary and secondary teachers and leaders‘, and directed attendees to specific parts within the hour-long recording (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A3T8p-YYRvw). In addition, I referred to one of the leading subject associations, the Geographical Association (GA), and their ‘Aspiring to high-quality primary geography‘ report, especially page 52 with its paragraph about fieldwork.
We then moved on to look at coverage, sequencing and progression of geographical skills and fieldwork. I projected appropriate elements of the EYFS Framework (https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/974907/EYFS_framework_-_March_2021.pdf) and steered teachers towards a couple of useful resources, namely an article that appeared in the Autumn 2022 edition of the GA’s Primary Geography journal, ‘Geography in the Early Years: Guidance for doing wonderful and effective geography with young people‘ (https://www.geography.org.uk/Journal-Issue/e7710df0-7adb-48ac-b28a-3e5193bcbc0d), and a recording, slides and PDF published by Ordnance Survey and Digimap for Schools about ‘Maps and mapping in the Early Years‘ (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yu5pFYb3PxI and https://digimapforschools.edina.ac.uk/learning-resources/resource/Maps_And_Mapping_Webinar_Presentation.html). Next, we ‘unpicked’ the 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), viewed parts of the GA’s ‘A progression framework for geography‘ (https://www.geography.org.uk/eBooks-detail/71c435a8-c548-4e38-80db-2305275fbee5) and explored Julie Tanner’s award-winning article in the Spring 2021 edition of the GA’s Primary Geography journal called ‘Progression in geographical experiences‘ (https://www.geography.org.uk/Journal-Issue/a5d99686-24e8-41fe-8f69-ca261857c322).
Afterwards, we spent some time honing our geographical skills, concentrating on aspects such as direction (four and eight points of the compass), scale, distance (straight and actual), relief (contour lines and spot heights), grid references (four- and six-figure) and OS map symbols. Not only did I share examples of best practice here, but also set a number of tasks for delegates to have a go at. Furthermore, I provided a book suggestion and a few useful web-links that teachers may wish to view in due course (https://www.amazon.co.uk/Drawing-Outdoors-Jairo-Buitrago/dp/1771648473; https://www.ordnancesurvey.co.uk/mapzone/assets/doc/Map-Reading-Made-Easy-Peasy-en.pdf; https://www.ordnancesurvey.co.uk/mapzone/map-skills and https://www.rgs.org/schools/teaching-resources/?categories=MapSkills&categories=Keystage2&loadall=0&pageindex=1&searchterm=map%20skills).
Following a brief comfort break, we progressed to the second part of the main session focusing on quick, easy, cost-effective, impacting and purposeful ideas for fieldwork. I referenced Alan Parkinson’s ‘Everyday geographies‘ theme from the GA’s last conference, which highlighted that you do not have to go very far to give pupils a memorable and meaningful fieldwork experience (https://www.geography.org.uk/Hybrid-Conference-2022). This theme carried through to their WorldWise Week 2022 (https://www.geography.org.uk/teaching-resources/Everyday-geographies). Alan also delivered a fantastic webinar on ‘Helping you to be outstanding in your field‘ for Digimap for Schools, which contains a handful of simple, but effective local fieldwork ideas (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ydTAPKfp1dY).
Stephen Scoffham’s and Steve Rawlinson’s session at the GA’s 2022 Annual Conference (‘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 (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bGhuXuH_kHg and https://www.geography.org.uk/Hybrid-Conference-2022).
National Fieldwork Week 2022 outlined a range of potential practical activities and contained the following pertinent quote: ‘Remember to make sure the visit is enjoyable and fun – pupils will remember it for a long time to come.’ (https://www.geography.org.uk/National-Fieldwork-Week). Details about this year’s Fieldwork Fortnight from 26th June to 7th July 2023 should be visible on the GA’s website soon too.
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 (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J6Os3UNHlao).
I also suggested that teachers check out the GA’s online shop, where there are a number of high-quality materials on offer (https://www.geography.org.uk/Shop/Product-type/Fieldwork/), and sift 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/2023/02/08/off-we-go-to-the-arctic-again/ 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/); one for next year’s action plan!
Some time was set aside for independent exploration of the various afore-mentioned resources and web-links.
I then invited participants to tackle the following activity:
For this meeting, I grouped individuals according to their location (county or region) to facilitate sharing at this stage and it certainly seemed to pay off as I witnessed many stimulating discussions when I popped into each ‘breakout room’.
We reconvened for the plenary. Firstly, I asked individuals to reconsider the initial question, ‘Are geographical skills and fieldwork important?‘, and their position along the continuum line. Would they place themselves at a different point after this morning’s session at all and, if so, why?. Several decided to shift themselves a little more towards ‘very important’ having realised that many geographical skills are actually life-long skills and appreciating the benefits to be gained from ‘taking learning beyond the classroom’. Secondly, participants were asked to complete the following task, adapted from Mrs Humanities’ kindly shared resource (https://mrshumanities.com/2016/03/31/50-tl-secret-mission-cards/):
Before leaving the meeting, delegates were prompted to provide feedback via a Google Form. This is invaluable to me when contemplating the content and delivery of the next meeting.
Some of their ‘concluding comments‘ can be viewed below:
Informative with so many practical ideas and links to great resources.
Informative; information that can support geographical understanding to feedback to staff.
Inspiring; thought-provoking; engaging; resource-filled; motivating.
Amazing! Emma has given me the confidence to highlight the importance of fieldwork within my school.
Great tips shared on delivering map skills using engaging activities.
Fantastic ideas, useful resources and great discussions in the ‘breakout room’.
Useful; informative; thought-provoking; helpful.
So informative! Loads of practical ideas that I can use. I cannot wait to get going!
Great to focus on fieldwork skills.
Informative session to increase confidence and signposting to additional support.
Today has been very informative. Lots of useful information. I have made a very long list of actions I now need to do in school.
Useful, particularly the resources and speaking with others from the same area.
Inspiring; useful; professional.
A run through of the value of fieldwork and how it feeds into geography in the National Curriculum. Practical ideas and ways to weave skills into learning. Opportunity for networking and sharing ideas.
Very informative and lots to think about!
Helpful; useful; informative; motivational; supportive.
Really informative and practical.
I feel empowered to better lead geography – this course was so useful! Thanks.
Inspiring; detailed information; supportive; effective.
Lots of useful information.
Fantastic and full of great resources.
Excellent, up-to-date information that has inspired me.
Full of incredibly useful information to support staff with the teaching of geography.
Delivered so clearly with lots of examples of how to embed fieldwork into our curriculum. Enjoyed the opportunities to share with others.
Useful; informative; well-resourced; pacy; supportive.
Very informative; lots of great ideas.
A really useful session packed with ideas and resources.
Very informative and given me much to think about.
Inspiring; endless resources/links/ideas. Reassuring to know we are heading down the right path. Thank you so much.
Inspiring; informative; practical; engaging; relevant.
Reassuring; thought-provoking; very helpful.
Very valuable and inspiring.
Fantastic information and resources that can be used for whole staff CPD. I am a new Geography Leader, who has moved from EYFS and found this training invaluable. Thank you for sharing your superb wealth of knowledge!
Today has been very helpful and there are now lots of useful links/resources to explore and see how these can be incorporated into our planning and delivery.
Very informative and helpful.
Very informative with lots of signposted articles.
Really useful. Thank you. Emphasises the importance and significance of fieldwork and how easy it can be.
Everything you need to know about fieldwork!
Very helpful and thought-provoking.
Informative; engaging; full of ideas and activities.
There is lots to do, but I have some good ideas to take forward and share.
Informative; knowledgeable and sharing of expertise.
Fantastic – so many ideas on our weakest area, fieldwork.
Useful overview; clear, concise and helpful.
The content of this course was very informative and demonstrated how important geography is.
Inspiring. My first one, so I now have a much better understanding as to why our action plan is as it is.
Informative, clear and accessible – amazingly helpful!
It was a great update on geography’s curriculum and its main focus areas.
Loads of information – fab!
Informative; interesting; inspiring; motivating; helpful.
Very informative, useful and thought-provoking.
Informative; challenging; inspiring; exciting and empowering.
Informative; passionate speaker; knowledgeable; relevant.
Thank you so much for today’s course.
Thank you! It was great!
Thank you for the amazing meeting this morning.
I just wanted to email to say thank you for such a wonderful course this morning. I have come away with so many ideas and resources that I am looking forward to sharing with my colleagues. You’ve also given me a confidence boost with Ofsted looming.
Thank you so much for such an interesting and informative session this morning. It has really highlighted the importance of fieldwork experiences and our school will definitely be partaking in Fieldwork Fortnight!
Thank you for another inspiring session this morning.
Not a bad way to spend a Friday morning in early March, it seems, and with plenty to reflect upon over the weekend as well.
Our final meeting of this academic year will take place from 9.00 am until 11.45 am on Thursday 25th May 2023. Hope you are able to join us for some more inspiration and encouragement.