Oak updates

14 March 2023

Geography curriculum partner and subject experts

Katie Marl

Primary Curriculum Design Lead

Katie Marl is a Curriculum Design Lead at Oak National Academy. She has over 20 years experience in primary school teaching and leadership and a wealth of experience delivering School Centred Initial Teacher Training.

How our geography curriculum will be changing

When Oak was first formed, we were busy supporting schools and teachers nationally during the pandemic. Much has changed since then, including the help and expertise that we can deliver to schools.

Our focus is on lowering workload and supporting teachers to increase their expertise. Over the coming year and beyond we’ll be creating a new geography curriculum and full set of teaching resources. These will all be designed to better support your planning, in-class teaching and help you develop your own curriculum.

We therefore launched a procurement process to find new partners to create our curriculum and opened recruitment for members of a geography subject expert group, so that we can utilise and share the very best practice from across the sector.

We’re here for all teachers: representing the diversity of the sector has been crucial to both building Oak and sustaining support of schools nationally from day one. As we continue to grow and evolve, this has remained unchanged. From brilliant schools to subject associations, universities and publishers, the curriculum partners we’re working with to develop new teaching resources across English, science, maths, geography, music and history reflect the range of educational institutions and providers that make the sector such a rich tapestry, filled with contrasting and complementing expertise and knowledge.

Not only are we excited to work with our new partners in regard to the variety they will bring to Oak, we are also excited for the continued choice that we will be able to offer teachers regarding teaching resources to select and adapt. We are one of many teaching resource and curriculum suppliers, and I am delighted that we can improve this offer so that UK teachers have an even better choice of foundation materials to build upon in their classroom.

Curriculum partner

I’m delighted to confirm that we will be collaborating with the Geographical Association in order to help shape the future of our geography curriculum offer.

I’m particularly excited about this partnership as they bring a wealth of experience and expertise. Founded in Oxford in 1893, the Association has fostered a community of professional practice with well over a century of innovation behind it and an unrivalled understanding of geography teaching.

They also have an extensive membership base, embracing the whole range of teachers across the sector from every age group and every type of school, with an important focus on building a curriculum founded on strong principles informed by educational research, using careful sequencing and coherence.

Their curriculum plans carefully align with the national curriculum together with our own overarching and subject principles.

Subject experts

Working with our new curriculum partner is just the start of the process. To make sure we can meet the wide-ranging needs of schools from across the country, we’ve also recruited subject experts to provide independent feedback.

Our subject experts will help to shape every aspect of our new offer, from reviewing our sequence to providing feedback on sample teaching resources and working with us to keep improving our curriculum.

They include subject specialists and teachers with a rich wealth of classroom experience, ensuring that our teaching materials remain for teachers and by teachers. They will also bring a range of opinions, impartial expertise and valued objective feedback and challenge.

Our curriculum development process will be transparent and open: sharing our thought-process and trajectory, from the partners we are collaborating with to the thinking behind our curriculum choices.

Our subject experts are:

  • Tiffeny Ashton - St Columb Minor Academy
  • Tom Brassington - St Modwens, Burton
  • Michael Chiles - Kings Leadership Academy
  • Mark Enser - Ofsted
  • Iain Freeland - Oasis Community Learning
  • Kate Fritter, Ark Curriculum +
  • Grace Healy - David Ross Education Trust
  • David Preece - Teach First
  • Jessica Rennie - Stanley Road Primary School, Oldham

Each subject expert group will also include representatives from our curriculum partner, The Geographical Association.

Our geography curriculum principles

Our first set of new lesson planning and teaching resources will be available from autumn 2023, with full curriculum packages by summer 2024.

As a Subject Lead, I will ensure that the new curriculum resources that evolve through collaborative work reflect our geography guiding principles, to ensure every geography teacher has access to brilliant teaching resources and every pupil has access to high-quality provision.

Our guiding principles are a rigorous guide to guarantee that our new curriculum is grown from a strong foundation of core values and key ingredients, ensuring that our curriculum is cohesive and enriching. In primary and secondary geography, this will mean our curriculum plans include:

  • A focus on four interrelated areas of substantive geographical knowledge: locational, place, processes and skills
  • Linking substantive and disciplinary knowledge to develop key geographical concepts (which include: place, space (including spatio-temporal change), scale, interconnection and interdependence, physical and human processes, environmental impact, sustainable development, cultural awareness, cultural diversity and interpretation) together with capacity for ‘spatial thinking’ and ‘thinking geographically’
  • Integration of geographical knowledge including map skills, geographic information systems (GIS), aerial and satellite imagery (Earth Observation)
  • Embedding of geographical knowledge to achieve automaticity by application to novel situations in case studies and fieldwork

One of our curriculum principles is diversity, and this will be a focus for subject expert groups. In addition, we will shortly be launching a process to appoint an organisation that specialises in this field, working across subjects and our partners to help us deliver breadth and diversity in content, language, texts, media and our teachers.

Our overall curriculum approach

These geography-specific principles dovetail with our overall approach to curriculum design, and how we hope teachers can use Oak, as explained by Emma McCrea, our Head of Curriculum Design. You can also find out more about the new partners and subject experts we’re excited to be working with for the other subjects we’re redeveloping first.

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