Time for a spot of bespoke CPD today; the first of two virtual sessions with the current Class 2 (EYFS) Teacher and Geography Subject Leader at Coalway Community Infant School in the Forest of Dean, Gloucestershire (https://www.coalway-inf.gloucs.sch.uk/website).
In an e-mail prior to today’s session, I had been briefed about geography across the school and the areas which were felt to need development or that their Geography Subject Leader wanted particular support with. After an initial chat, we identified the foci for this morning, namely to review all current subject documentation and look at coverage, sequencing and progression, plus resourcing, from EYFS to Year 2. The Geography Subject Leader had been in role for seven years, so much was already in place; it was more a question of revitalising the content so that geography was engaging, relevant and purposeful for both teachers and children alike, promoted an enquiry approach to learning and a degree of consistency was evident.
Documentation linked to the whole school’s ethos, values and golden threads. The subject’s purpose and aims were clearly identified and the content to be covered was appropriately sequenced to enable progression. EYFS sits separately from Key Stage 1, although there is much liaison between teaching staff to ensure a smooth transition. Geography is seen as a subject within its own right and pupils have their own exercise book, which they take from Year 1 to Year 2. What is, perhaps, lacking is the attention to geography within each term; presently, a geography-led theme is delivered in alternate terms.
To begin with, we referred to the EYFS Framework, zooming in on ‘Understanding the World’ (UtW) and its two Early Learning Goals (ELGs) that relate to geography, e.g. ‘People, Culture and Communities’ and ‘The Natural World’. We organised the content across each term, making sure that we had an overriding enquiry question to accompany each theme. I signposted the Geography Subject Leader towards several useful websites and resources that would help with addressing key aspects of the EYFS Framework, e.g. stories; maps; visits; experiences; language acquisition, and Ofsted’s Education Inspection Framework (EIF), such as ‘reading across the curriculum’, ‘cultural capital’, accessibility and inclusivity/Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI). I showcased how Development Matters could be used to aid medium-term planning. I stressed that they should not reinvent the wheel completely. Identify what works well now and include it again; pinpoint what needs to be improved and come up with an alternative. I suggested that the Geography Subject Leader did this and came back to me at the start of our next bespoke CPD session with any gaps that she had.
Next, I shared a copy of the Geographical Association (GA)’s ‘A new framework for the school geography curriculum‘, and drew attention to a couple of pages that would provide her with further insight into substantive and disciplinary knowledge and key concepts in geography. I also directed the Geography Subject Leader towards a very valuable and recently updated document that GA members can download for FREE or can be bought by others for a small fee via their online shop (‘Guidance on progression and assessment in geography‘), which outlines the benchmark expectations at the end of Key Stage 1 and beyond and could be informative when considering transition. We then delved into the National Curriculum programme of study for geography at Key Stage 1 to familiarise ourselves with its content and check that this was covered and effectively sequenced across Years 1 and 2 at Coalway Community Infant School. It is intended to pick up at this point on Monday 19th June 2023 and repeat what we have accomplished at EYFS with Key Stage 1 in order to reinforce consistency. We can then discuss the use of knowledge organisers/learning organisers, a progression of subject-specific vocabulary, ‘taking learning beyond the classroom’, links with Forest School and useful websites and resources to frequently visit in more depth.
Good luck on your planning and development journey!