Intent: why do we teach what we teach?

Geography is a facilitating subject, which broadens our pupils’ understanding of the planet and the people living on it. Pupils apply understanding of physical and biological processes and evaluate the human factors which influence economic development and environmental impact in the world. This interdisciplinary subject enables our pupils to become global citizens, and understand the causes, impacts, and solutions to global challenges. Geography challenges us to ask questions about the planet and the people here; we aim high for our pupils by asking these challenging questions throughout the curriculum, spiralling knowledge and skills upwards in scope and complexity.

We structure our geography curriculum around four core bodies of knowledge that every pupil must know:

1. Locational and place knowledge (marked in orange below)

to develop a deep understanding of where places are in their own country and the wider planet. We believe secure knowledge of our world’s continents, countries, cities and regions is essential to our children’s success at university and beyond.

2. Landforms and physical processes (green)

to have a deep understanding of the processes and land types of the planet on which they live, fostering a curiosity for how the planet and its people work together.

3. Climates and biomes (red)

to gain a sense of wonder about our planet’s diversity of climates and biomes and to have the necessary knowledge to vividly imagine life in a one different to their own experience. We also believe that a deep understanding of climate and biomes will in still an interest in the wider environment which will last a lifetime.

4. Human processes and the economy (blue)

to gain curiosity about the wide variety of cultures and lifestyles on our planet, and how these interact and relate to one another through the global economy and in local contexts too.

We also invest in ensuring our pupils have the skills and experiences of adult geographers:

1. Map skills

Our pupils use and devise their own maps to make sense of where places are and demonstrate their understanding of their own locality and the wider world.

2. Observation and data-handling skills

We enrich our curriculum with opportunities for our geographers to use data and form their own independent observations to answer our challenging enquiry questions.

3. Real-life experiences of the world

We lead fieldwork studies in every key stage both in the local area and further afield, expecting our geographers to use these studies to develop their learning.

The Learning Journey – Nursery to Year 13

In the Early Years, pupils begin to develop their geographical knowledge through the learning area ‘Understanding the World’. Through our rich, integrated curriculum and enrichment experiences, pupils acquire skills and knowledge through the strands of ‘Past and Present’, ‘People, Culture and Communities’ and ‘The Natural World’. We want our pupils to develop a strong sense of community and so we plan for pupils to explore their local environment through shared, first hand experiences, including weekly Forest School sessions with our qualified practitioner.

Primary geography units provide important cross-curricula links with English, such as studying deforestation in the Amazon in Year 3 alongside reading the Great Kapok Tree in English. We believe that by making these links, children view geographical processes as fundamental to their understanding of the world, including the stories we share. Elsewhere, we teach geography units as stand-alone objectives, such as unit G4: Maps and Atlases in Year 2 to ensure we establish and embed comprehensive geographical understanding.

In Key Stage 3, we teach Geography as a separate discipline through the ARK Geography Mastery curriculum, which organises the study of Geography into key threads of: processes, interactions, connections, and perspectives. In order to pitch quite abstract concepts at a KS3 appropriate level, Geography Mastery uses annual questions that speak to each of these overarching concepts, building in complexity through the key stage.


EYFS Curriculum Overview

2 year olds

Nursery (3-4 year olds)

Reception (4-5 year olds)

 Big question:

What is the same? What is different?

Where do I live?

Big question:

What are journeys?

What is it like to live in..?

Big questions:

What is the world like?

How can I save the world?

Year 1

Year 2

Year 3

Year 4

Year 5

Year 6

Year 7

Year 8

Year 9


What are the key physical and human processes on our planet?

Does humanity live sustainably with the environment?

How globally connected is the world?



 Polar climates

G7: Amazon Rainforest:

Why is the Amazon Rainforest disappearing?

G10: Volcanoes:

What is it like to live near to a Volcano?

Communities near active volcanoes

World climates

Geography and me

River Rivals

Global Oceans (tectonics and global processes)


G1: Antarctica: What does Antarctica feel like?

Compass directions

G8: Fair Trade

Who is the Fairtrade movement for?

Tectonic plates and volcanoes

World Continents

Oceans of the world

Our planet

Food and Famine

Ocean Biomes and Governance


Polar climates

Using grids and references

G9: England’s rural life: Should fox hunting be legal?

Oceans of the World

Oceans of the World

World biomes

Resources and trade

Endless Energy?

The Global     Economy


G2: Woodland and Forests: Can I find big green spaces in London?

G4: Maps and Atlases

Where do I find home on a map?

Where do I find home on a map?

G11: Migration and the Refugee Crisis: Should the UK do more to help refugees?

G12: The world’s climates

How is life different in other climates?

G13: Climate Crisis: Why are we in a climate crisis?



Climate Change

Development Disparity


Features of parks, woodlands and heaths

G5: Coastal landscapes: What is it like beside the seaside?

Ports and seaside resorts


LICs, MICs and HICs



G14: Local issues and life across the United Kingdom

How is life different across UK constituencies?

Fantastic Landscapes of the UK

Polar Environments

Glacial Landforms and Processes


G3: Transport: How do people move around London? people move around London?

G6: The World and Our Cultures: What are the seven continents?

 Oceans of the world

LICs, MICs and HICs

UK cities

effects of climate change

UK Coasts

The Middle East – A Regional         Study

Independent Project – My UK Region

In Key Stage 4 and 5, there is optionality within the AQA specification; we aim to align with the Ark network where possible to facilitate standardisation, moderation, and professional development for our teachers. Where there is less consensus, we aim to choose topics to ensure pupils have been exposed to a breadth of Geography topics which is truly university preparatory.

Year 10**

Year 11

Year 12

Year 13

Living world: Biomes + Ecosystems

Economic Change around the world

Water and Carbon Cycles

Resource security

Hot deserts and Tropical Rainforests

Economic Change in the UK


Global systems and Global governance

Physical landscapes of the UK: Rivers

Hazards, Rivers*

Changing places – My local area study


Physical landscapes of the UK: Coasts

Urban change*

Coastal systems and landscapes

Urban change

Paper 3: Fieldwork; Issue Evaluation

Physical fieldwork

Physical Geography Fieldwork

Research and analysis : NEA

*Pupils currently in Year 11 are reviewing topics taught during Covid-19 lockdowns due to removal of familiar fieldwork and resource management units from the GCSE exams this year.

**Our KS4 curriculum is in a transitional phase as the Geography mastery curriculum has now been running for three years.

Pupils currently in Year 10 did not follow Geography mastery in Year 9 and studied Hazards and Urban change.

Pupils currently in Year 9 will have completed the Mastery CCP for Geography, and thus will also study Hazards in Year 10.

Implementation: how do we teach what we teach?

Year group

Hours of teaching a week

Organisation of work


Integrated into daily teaching and learning within the provision

Memorable moments are captured as pupil voice in observations and learning journals


1 (where applicable)

Exercise books, writing progress books


1 (where applicable)

Exercise books, writing progress books


1 (where applicable)

Exercise books, writing progress books


1 (where applicable)

Exercise books, writing progress books


1.5 (where applicable)

Exercise books, writing progress books


1.5 (where applicable)

Exercise books, writing progress books



Exercise books



Exercise books



Exercise books



Exercise books



Exercise books



Work packs, folders



Work packs, folders

Although each year group in the EYFS has a dedicated unit to geography, learning is woven through the entire curriculum and pupils frequently investigate geography through a range of experiences as part of our integrated model. This is sequenced and built up over time so pupils are required to use and apply their skills of observation and knowledge in increasingly complex ways. For example, pupils first begin their explorations of their immediate environment in our 2-year-old setting with our topic “What is the same? What is different?” In Nursery, they regularly go on local trips and explore their outdoor learning environment in depth during our Forest School sessions. Pupils are explicitly taught and frequently exposed to the vocabulary of key physical and human features so that they are familiar with these concepts when they enter Year One.

Across all humanities subjects from Year 1, we use Knowledge Organisers and quizzes to help pupils develop working memory strategies that support knowledge acquisition. This knowledge provides a foundation which empowers pupils to respond to the thought-provoking questions which guide study in every unit and ensure it has real-life applicability.

In the primary phase, each unit has an enquiry question which is answered with a written outcome. The subject-specialist teachers have intellectual preparation time together, a crucial touch point in identifying misconceptions and practising the delivery of geographical concepts in preparation for teaching. A Knowledge Organiser is shared with the pupils in both their exercise and homework books, outlining what each geographer needs to know as an entry point to each aspect of the unit. This document sequences the unit into lessons, identifying the key knowledge to be taught each lesson. As the unit progresses, the children revise the previous week’s learning both in the Do Now and in their homework books.

Pupils in Y1-Y2 use maps, globes, atlases, and texts to retrieve information and practice fundamental skills. Pupils in Y3-6 build on these skills and also begin to use data to engage critically with geographical processes. Enquiry questions for each unit, answered with a formal written response, require primary pupils to demonstrate this understanding at length at the end of each unit.

Pupils in Year 7 -9 follow a reading-based curriculum which emphasises the acquisition of vocabulary through use of text. Pupils have access to these booklets of text and practice questions online too, and there is a Stretch task included for each lesson. In KS3, Knowledge Organisers take the form of subject glossaries, with key words and concepts organised by lesson.

Now that the KS3 program runs until Year 9, we are iterating our Key Stage 4 curriculum to focus more on expanding and building on strengths of KS3 by introducing applicable GCSE case studies which reinforce this knowledge.

At KS4 and 5, there are opportunities for pupils to take part in Fieldwork trips, where they practice collecting and analysing data about the human and physical geography around them. Key stage 4 pupils increasingly use online platforms such as Seneca, as well as their Knowledge Organisers, to revise knowledge, so that class time can be dedicated to evaluation and analysis skills, including critical thinking and exam practice.

Pupils in KS5 are expected to be more digitally literate, through use of OneNote for class notes and pre-work, and access to online textbooks too.


Impact: how do we know what pupils have learnt and how well they have learnt it?

Within lessons, geography teachers in primary assess pupils’ understanding during the lesson at many points. ‘Well Worn Paths’ are ordered lists of students which the teachers follow, prioritising the highest-leverage pupils first. These paths are used to inform live feedback, enabling teachers to assess success against the lesson objective and collect live data. Teachers use exemplars, annotate with likely misconceptions, to assess understanding. In Years 1-4, pupils and teachers both assess each learner’s success against the learning objective; this informs planning for the next lesson.

In alignment with assessment in the Early Years, practitioners observe the children in play, use skilful interactions to comment and question, supporting children to deepen and share their geographical understanding. Children show what they know by making comments and asking questions which are captured as ‘memorable moments’, usually in pupil voice, photographs or observations. These are collected in pupil’s learning journals to support practitioner’s judgements of how well pupils know and can articulate their knowledge.

In the primary phase, enquiry questions for each unit - answered with a formal written response - require our pupils to demonstrate understanding at length. Pupils’ writing is also formally assessed against national standards, meaning teachers assess their ability to communicate understanding in written form.

Quizzes are also used to formatively assess what our children have learned, and the data from this informs planning for future ‘Do Nows’ and mini-teaches in other Humanities units. Question-level analysis enables teachers to identify strengths and weaknesses across cohorts.

The summative and formative data collected from quizzes informs future units. Medium term plans include highlighted aspects of the geography curriculum, so teachers are aware of cohorts being secure, partially-met or not-met in key indicators.

Pre-unit quizzes in KS3 allow us to measure pupil learning from primary and build from this starting point. This means we can adapt the Mastery curriculum to include a greater focus on extended writing and debate.

In Secondary, pupils are assessed fortnightly on the key knowledge they should have mastered, and any gaps in learning are addressed through reteach activities. Pupils also complete termly knowledge-based assessments which are comparable across the Ark network of schools, and another written piece of work, which they will redraft based on feedback.

At sixth-form, pupils are expected to practice knowledge more independently, while in-class teaching and checkpoints has a greater focus on application, analysis, and exam-practice.