“Geography is a subject which holds the key to the future”
What we teach
At Mersey Park we have developed our Geography curriculum in line with National Curriculum aims and objectives for Key Stage 1 and 2 and the Statutory Framework for the Early Years Foundation Stage. We believe that Geography stimulates curiosity and fascination about the world and its people. We strive to equip pupils with knowledge about diverse places, people, resources and both natural and human environments, together with a deep understanding of the Earth’s key physical and human processes.
As our learners progress, their growing knowledge about the world should help them to deepen their understanding of the interaction between human and physical processes and of the formation and use of landscapes and environments.
We aim to develop confident learners, through exposure to a range of practical experiences, which build their geographical knowledge, understanding and skills enabling them to explain how the Earth’s features are shaped, interconnected and change over time. We encourage an inclusive school environment and ensure that all pupils, including those most vulnerable and those who are disadvantaged, have the opportunity to access the full and broad curriculum through carefully adapted teaching, with planned support and scaffolding as required.
How we teach it
At Mersey Park, all geographical work undertaken has been carefully organised to provide breadth and depth of knowledge and understanding, as well as developing skills.
Beginning in Foundation Stage, our pupils are given opportunities to discover and learn about the world they live in. The Geography element of the children’s work is related to the Knowledge and Understanding of the World objectives set out in the Statutory Framework for the Early Years Foundation Stage.
In Key Stage 1, Geography develops pupil knowledge, skills and understanding relating to their own environment and the people who live there and an awareness of the wider world, in accordance with the KS1 National Curriculum.
In Key Stage 2, Geography extends pupil knowledge, skills and understanding relating to people, places and environments in the United Kingdom and beyond, developing an appreciation of how places relate to each other and the wider world, in accordance with the KS2 National Curriculum.
Our carefully planned curriculum starts with children learning first about their local area and then using this knowledge to expand their thinking to look at the wider country and then the world and beyond. We feel it is very important for our children to develop a strong sense of community and develop a passion about the conservation and preservation of our local environment. This is why we try to make use of our local environment, as much as possible, in our teaching. It is important for us to teach our pupils about how to respect their local environment and what they can do to help. It is our hope that this respect will help pupils to develop a better understanding and appreciation for environmental issues affecting the wider world.
Subject overviews ensure all subjects are carefully mapped out throughout the year to ensure effective spaced practice and regular repetition. In each subject Key Knowledge Components are identified and highlighted on planning to ensure these threads are taught in a progressive structure.
Lesson objectives are taken from the National Curriculum and developed to match the topic theme and ensure a broad and balanced curriculum. From these lesson objectives Key Learning is then highlighted and this learning is regularly revisited and forms the basis of the end of unit assessment.
Each topic starts with the children completing their ‘What do I know?’ bubble. This is an opportunity for the children to think about what they already know about a topic and activate any prior knowledge. This also allows the teacher to assess pupils’ starting knowledge and adapt their teaching as necessary.
Every Geography lesson starts with a mini-quiz which revises prior knowledge and embeds important facts into children’s long term memory. These quizzes are informal and allow teachers an opportunity to address misunderstandings and highlight key areas which need more revision.
The teaching of key subject specific vocabulary is a high priority across the school. Vocabulary is carefully selected to ensure progression and repetition to endeavor to embed this in to long term memory. It is revisited each lesson and using our ‘we know’, ‘we’ve heard of’ and ‘we don’t know yet’ vocabulary displays the children have an opportunity to revise, secure and develop their subject specific vocabulary knowledge. Vocabulary is modelled throughout the topic to build confidence and children are encouraged to speak like geographers.
We also plan opportunities for P4C session throughout our Geography curriculum to allow pupils to debate important geographical and environmental issues and express their opinions about the world they live in.
Our Mersey Park knowledge organisers, created to carefully link to our planning, along with quizzes each lesson help the children to retain new knowledge and recall previous learning. Use of knowledge boxes in each class filled with key questions support repetition and help to embed important knowledge from previous topics. Assessment, linked to Key Learning is used regularly to gauge knowledge retention and understanding. Where there is a particular concern over knowledge retention key questions are added to the knowledge box to be revisited regularly. Class teachers record assessment outcomes using our tracking grid and the subject leader analyses gaps in knowledge and skills. Actions are identified and followed up.
Subject leaders play an important part in the success of the curriculum by leading a regular programme of monitoring, evaluation and review. They regularly hold pupil interviews in order to check on knowledge and skill acquisition and retention. Subject leaders are provided with regular opportunities to further improve their own subject knowledge through CPD opportunities and attending local cluster group meetings. Subjects are planned to ensure progression of knowledge and skills throughout their primary education.
Teachers are provided with regular opportunities to develop their own subject knowledge through sharing good practice, peer observation, professional development and visiting experts.
SMSC through Geography
Humanities subjects are focused on people and their relationships and, therefore, are well placed to contribute to the children’s Spiritual, Moral, Social and Cultural education. In lessons the children are given the opportunity to either consider the needs and experiences of others, or their own personal responses to events, problems and changes. Teachers encourage children to discuss and debate controversy within the classroom. We encourage children to enquire, consider and question in lessons and beyond.
Being inspired and awed by the world around us is a key part of the Geography curriculum and is explicitly promoted through topics such as ‘Unique UK’, ‘Passport to Europe’ and ‘Our Natural World’.
Children are given the opportunity to debate and discuss moral dilemmas in different topics such as pollution and climate change. Children are regularly given the opportunity to question the rights and wrongs of the modern world.
Social and moral issues are regularly discussed through Philosophy for Children within Geography lessons such as food waste, food distribution, fair trade, threats to nature and climate change.
Cultural appreciation and understanding is fundamental to learning. Children learn to respect and appreciate the cultures of many countries around the world through topics such as ‘Island Adventures’, ‘Unique UK’, ‘Liverpool’, ‘Passport to Europe’, ‘Travels around Greece’, ‘Travels around the Americas’ and ‘Travels around Egypt’.
The impact of our Geography curriculum is that our learners are equipped with the geographical skills and knowledge that will enable them to be ready for the secondary curriculum and for life as an adult in the wider world. The children will be able to discuss their learning and demonstrate their knowledge and understanding through a range of activities. They will appreciate the world around them and take pride in their local environment.
Outcomes in topic books evidence a broad and balanced Geography curriculum and demonstrate children’s acquisition of identified key geographical knowledge and skills.
End of topic assessments cover the exact knowledge taught within the unit of work. These assessments are used to gauge an understanding of what knowledge has been retained and what needs further repetition to embed it in the pupils ’long term memory.
Pupils talk confidently about their learning using a range of geographical vocabulary.
At the end of each key stage the children are ready to progress in Geography to the next stage of their education having an understanding of the key knowledge and skills set out in the National Curriculum.
Mersey Park Primary Whole School Geography Overview
Here is a copy of our Long Term Overview for Geography.
National Curriculum for Geography
Geography at Mersey Park
In Foundation 1 the children explore the changing world around us, using new vocabulary to talk about what they see. They use the outdoor spaces to investigate how things change through the seasons of Autumn and Winter. They find out about how plants and trees change, how the weather changes and what natural items we will find around school.
In Foundation 2 the children talk about where they live and who lives with them. Using a house shape, the children draw themselves and their family inside. The children explore different types of homes in the local area and through books and images compare them to homes from around the world. The children build a home like their own using Lego. At Harvest time the children find out about where food grows and how it is harvested. Linked to the Hindu festival, Diwali the children share images and video clips about India as a contrasting location to where they live. They enjoy finding out about the lives of children in India, what they eat, how they travel to school and what their homes are like. The children enjoy tasting poppadums and some other Indian food.
In Year 1 the children learn about the seasons and how the trees and weather change during the year. As part of their Seasons topic they take a trip to Royden Park and have the opportunity to go on a scavenger hunt and gather natural objects and make leaf patterns.
In Year 2 the children learn about the seven continents of the world. They also revise the four countries of the UK building on their knowledge from Year 1 and learn about the capital cities of the four countries and the surrounding seas. As part of their Transport topic they also look at their route to school and create an aerial map of the local area. They have the opportunity to complete a traffic survey outside school to see the most common vehicles which travel along our roads.
In Year 3 the children start the year with their Unique UK topic where they learn more about the UK. They revise the four countries of the UK and their capital cities from their work in Year 1 and 2 and build on their knowledge by starting to learn about counties and rivers. they create fact files about the UK, including information about population, significant landmarks and physical features. As part of their topic they take a trip to Birkenhead Park to learn about traditional British trees and flowers.
In Year 4 the children locate Rome on a range of maps and also study the spread of the Roman Empire. The children also learn about the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79AD and how this changed Pompeii forever.
In Year 5 they start the year with their Ancient Greece topic. As part of their topic they learn about where Greece is and how the geography of Greece influenced their society. We also look at trade and how the Greeks would have had contact with other civilisations through travel.
In Year 6 the children use maps and globes to find out more about the land use in Egypt. They locate areas using 6 figure grid references. They also look at the similarities and differences between Egypt and the UK, paying particular consideration to: land use, natural resources, oceans, mountains and landmass.
These photographs show some of the activities completed at Forest School.
In Foundation 1 the children wrap up to explore the snow in the outdoor area.
In Foundation 2 the children find out if some places in the world are always cold. They look at photographs and videos on the internet and also use an Atlas and globe to help them find out more. They find out about explorers who have visited these cold places and play with the animals that live there.
In Year 1 the children tasted foods from Spain, France and Greece and located the countries on a map. To introduce their buildings topic children went on a building hunt around their local area. They found the location of the school building on a map and planned their route to school.
In Year 2 the children begin a new topic called Island Adventures where they revise the seven continents of the World. They learn the five oceans and locate them on a map. They compare the weather on the Isle of Struay to the weather in Tranmere and experience a taste of Scottish culture.
In Year 3 the children revise the capital cities of the United Kingdom. They locate Liverpool on a map and complete some map work using OS maps. They visit The Museum of Liverpool by train and sketch famous Liverpool landmarks whilst there.
In Year 4 the children begin their passport to Europe topic with a focus on Italy, Spain and France. They look at the physical features of rivers and mountains and compare holidays in the past to present day ones.
In Year 5 the children revise the continents and look at famous landmarks around the World. They create fact files and compare weather patterns and different climate zones. They learn what a natural disaster is and how they may occur. They draw diagrams of volcanoes and earthquakes and create fact files to deepen their understanding of these two natural phenomenons. They also look at the globe and the invisible lines on them such as GMT, the tropics, the equator and time zones. Biomes and climate zones are another key focus of this topic.
In Year 6 the children start the year with their Water topic and investigate rivers. In this unit they study the water cycle, learn to name the rivers of Britain and some rivers of the world as well as looking at the local rivers, lakes and brooks. They will learn about the water cycle, exploring why it rains where rain comes from and the continuous cycle of water around our planet. The children look at water pollution and use ordnance survey maps. They use a 6 figure grid reference and OS maps. They learn about the human and physical impact of rivers, lakes and oceans and about water pollution.
In Foundation 1 the children enjoy finding out about places in the world other than their immediate environment. They listen to each other talk about place they have visited on holiday.
In Foundation 2 the children explore out and about in our local community. They are able to spot lots of Geographical features and the location of local places.
In Year 1 the children study how seaside holidays came about and where people go to find seaside holidays. They also look at the features of a seaside which culminates in a trip to New Brighton.
In Year 2 the children explore aerial views and plans. They use these to explore how the school building and grounds have changed over the years since it was built. They also use the artefacts and information from log books to look at the school population and study how the school has grown in size.
In Year 3 the children study the changes in land use in Port Sunlight from the Victorian Era to modern day. The children follow a map to create their own walking tour and spot the famous landmarks along the way. They also look at the modes of transport that people might take to get to Port Sunlight.
In Year 4 the children find out where the Anglo Saxons and Vikings came from, recap what they have learnt about these countries and they look at the routes they took to invade England. Then they look at Google Earth and use a variety of maps to locate the different areas.
In Year 5 the children look at all the different countries, climate zones and biomes in North and South America. They focus in on South America and in particular the Yucatan peninsula. They compare the geography of the Yucatan peninsula with the Wirral.
In Year 6 the children spend a lot of time doing map work, looking at different settlements during the Stone Age to Iron Age. They look at what different groups of people existed at the same time and who may have encountered each other for reasons like trade and farming.
We are proud to have been awarded the national Geography Award at bronze level in September 2018 showing our commitment to providing quality geography education.
Primary Geography Quality Mark
The Primary Geography Quality Mark is seen as a key strategy for raising the quality of Geography in Primary schools. Over the past year, everyone at Mersey Park has made a contribution to achieving our first Geography Mark and we are very proud to achieve Bronze. This will lead the way on our Geographical journey at Mersey Park and prepare us for the silver or gold submission in 2021.
The Geographical Association states the following about schools who have been awarded the mark: ‘The teachers in these schools ensure that their planning, policies and practice maximise pupil learning and are not afraid to take risks, innovate and challenge to achieve progress in geography. Key threads through the curriculum are intercultural understanding, local fieldwork, environmental issues, critical thinking and sustainability. These are explored in a variety of places across the world from local to global. The schools use creative approaches to stimulate learning and place high value on using real-life issues to promote understanding.’
Specifically, Mersey Park’s feedback from the recent application is summarised below:
- There is undoubtedly good quality geography teaching and learning going in the school.
- The subject leader has obviously made good use of the PGQM process to raise the profile of Geography within the school to good effect.
- Geography is being used well to support children’s behaviour and development in some classes within the school.
- Assessment strategies are beginning to inform future teaching and learning in the school.
Events and Trips
- Eco Club trip to Birkenhead Park investigating changing seasons and how to look after our local environment.
- Eco club litter picks around the school grounds and local school area.
- Year 1 walk around Mersey Park.
- Year 1 walk around the local area studying different buildings
- Year 1 visit to New Brighton.
- Year 2 local traffic survey
- Year 2 visit to Birkenhead Community Fire Station
- Year 3 visit to Museum of Liverpool
- Year 3 visit to Birkenhead Park
- Year 3 visit to Port Sunlight
- Year 4 visit Chester
- Year 4 residential visit to Barnstondale
- Year 5 trip to Liverpool
- Year 6 visit to Hilbre Island
- Year 6 residential visit to the Conwy centre
GEOGRAPHY REPORT TO GOVERNORS