At Gretton we aim to inspire in our children a curiosity and fascination with the world and its people that will remain with them for the rest of their lives.
We know how important it is for our children to begin by learning about the environment from first-hand experiences, so from Reception to Y6 we develop their love of the outdoors through regular Forest School visits, other local walks and trips further afield.
We recognise how vital it is for our children to make links between their own environment and other places. Through their work in geography, children learn about their local area and compare their life in this area with that in other regions of the United Kingdom and in the rest of the world. They learn how to draw and interpret maps, and they develop the skills of research, investigation, analysis and problem-solving. We motivate children to find out about the physical world and enable them to recognise the importance of sustainable development for the future of humankind. We aim to encourage in our children a commitment to sustainability and an appreciation of what ‘global citizenship’ means.
Through their growing knowledge and understanding of human geography, children also gain an appreciation of life in other places. We aim to increase our children’s knowledge of other cultures and, in so doing, teach a respect and understanding of what it means to be a positive citizen in a multicultural world.
We use the programmes of study of the National Curriculum as the basis for our curriculum planning. From this, a scheme of work has been developed across the key stages.
Our curriculum planning is in two phases (long-term and medium-term). Our long-term topic plan maps the geography topics studied in each term in each class. In many cases, we combine geographical study with work in other subject areas, especially at Key Stage 1. At other times, we arrange for the children to carry out a geographical study independently.
Our medium-term plans give details of each unit of work for each term for each class. Apart from in Foundation Stage/Reception, we have mixed-age classes, so we do the medium-term planning on a two-year rotation cycle for Y1/2, Y3/4 and Y5/6 classes. In this way, we ensure that children have complete coverage of the National Curriculum, but do not have to repeat topics.
We plan the topics in geography so that they build upon prior learning. Children of all abilities have the opportunity to develop their skills and knowledge in each unit and, through planned progression built into the scheme of work, we offer them an increasing challenge as they move up the school.
Trips into the local environment and beyond are crucial parts of our geography curriculum. This starts with weekly walks into our village and to our Forest School site in Reception, progressing to a visit to Sandfield Eco Farm and a bus ride to Winchcombe in the summer term.
In Y1/2 we continue with regular Forest School sessions throughout the year, but also include trips to places in the local area and beyond, such as Gretton Tower, Gretton Church, Sudeley Castle, Slimbridge Wetland Centre, Oxford Natural History Museum and Birmingham Sealife Centre. In Y3/4, besides further Forest School sessions, we offer the children the chance to explore places such as Belas Knap, Cheddar Gorge, Cleeve Hill (to find the source of the river Isbourne), Winchcombe and Tewkesbury. In Y5/6, whilst tackling deeper studies based at our Forest School site, we also explore and map the local area, go on a walk around Winchcombe and take our children to places further afield, such as the Black Country Living Museum and the British Museum in London, as well as offering the children a residential trip.
In order to make links between what the children are taught about the local environment and places in other parts of the country and the wider world, besides using maps, globes and books from our own school non-fiction library or those borrowed from the county library service, we make full use of technology, including Google Maps and Digimaps on our interactive Smartboards and iPads. In this way, our Y1/2s can explore islands around the UK and across the world in their ‘Great Explorations’ topic, whilst Y3/4 can study countries from across our continent in their ‘Explore Europe’ topic and Y5/6 can really bring the rainforests of Brazil to life in their ‘What a Wonderful World’ topic.
We assess the impact of our geography curriculum in several different ways, to ensure that we are developing skills, knowledge and understanding for all our children. Planning is monitored for coverage, differentiation & progression and children’s topic books are monitored to assess learning and progress. We also conduct learning walks to see children’s work and photos on display and pupil conferencing to find out what children have learned and enjoyed.
To monitor standards, summative assessment is completed by each teacher at the end of each term. This gives us a clear picture of how many children have achieved the objectives within a unit of work and therefore, a good indication of the standards being achieved in geography. For example, at the end of the Autumn Term 2021, the vast majority of our children achieved the required standard in their most recent unit of work.
From talking to our children and observing their work, it is evident that they are engaged and enthusiastic learners. By the end of their time at Gretton, we are pleased to see that our children have a good knowledge of locations both local and further afield, an understanding of human and physical features of geography and the skills to use maps and carry out fieldwork, enabling them to ask and answer questions on a wide variety of geographical topics. Most of all, they have gained a deeper understanding of the world that we live in and are beginning to realise the role that we all need to play in protecting the future of our planet.