Teaching local geography in the primary phase

Katie Marl

Primary Curriculum Design Lead

Earlier this year, we explained our approach to curriculum and that we have started developing brand new curricula with our partners to provide entirely optional, high-quality curriculum models and adaptable resources.

Here we will give you a behind-the-scenes look at the initial stages of development of our primary geography curriculum plan, one of six subjects with brand new curricula being created for release during 2023-24.

As teachers, we know that geography is more than memorising maps and capital cities; it's also about knowing and understanding the world we live in, and developing a sense of place.

Teaching local geography in the primary phase is a vital part of helping pupils connect with their immediate surroundings and develop a global perspective by making connections between their everyday lives and the world around them. But how can Oak provide resources for local geography when every school’s ‘local’ is different?

We have been working with the Geographical Association to address this tricky problem.

Authenticity

Geography is forever making connections over time and space. Geography is rooted in the ‘local’: where pupils can draw on their personal knowledge and experience as a starting point to think more deeply about where they live and how it connects to the wider world.

Our geography curriculum is knowledge-rich, allowing pupils to build a breadth of factual information about their local area whilst using investigative techniques and mapwork to develop a deeper understanding of their ‘home place’.

The teacher plays a vital role in curriculum making, not least by recognising that geography is a subject that can enable students to better know and understand the world and their place in it.

The Geographical Association

One of the biggest challenges in designing an authentic curriculum is that everyone has a different local area.

Oak’s units will build knowledge of a range of transferable fieldwork techniques, that can be used around the school grounds and in the surrounding area such as collecting and recording weather data, to help build pupils’ expertise.

However, ultimately it is for teachers to bring the learning to life by adding their own local area lens. You can use our resources as a framework to develop pupils’ knowledge of the landmarks, buildings and physical features of their unique local area.

We’d encourage you to further supplement Oak’s geography resources with locally-sourced materials such as maps, charts and photographs. In our curriculum, pupils will be encouraged to conduct their own investigations using reliable sources about their local geography developing a deeper connection with their immediate surroundings.

Efficiency

Planning and developing resources for teaching local geography can be time-consuming, especially when creating the materials from scratch.

Our geography curriculum and resources can reduce workload by providing teachers with pre-designed materials that are high-quality and national curriculum aligned. This can save you time and effort, allowing you to focus on delivering effective instruction and motivating pupils in the learning process.

Adaptability and flexibility

While our geography curriculum provides resources, it also allows for flexibility in implementation. You can adapt the resources to meet the needs of your pupil in your school's context. This ensures that the curriculum is not a rigid set of rules but a framework that can be customised to suit the unique needs of each classroom.

This can involve incorporating local examples, inviting guest speakers from the local community, or organising field trips to explore local geography.

Taking proactive steps to ensure that local cultural perspectives are included gives opportunities for integrating diverse local voices, stories, and traditions into the curriculum. Inviting local experts, community members, or cultural representatives to share their knowledge and experiences with your pupils offers opportunities to highlight the diverse cultural heritage of the local geography and promote inclusivity.

You can also use the structure of our contrasting locality units to support with creating your own unit studying an alternative contrasting locality. By providing relevant photographic and written information for the chosen place, tasks such as looking at daily and school life for a child in the contrasting locality can remain.

Professional development

Our geography curriculum and resources can provide opportunities for professional development for teachers. Our lesson videos support you in effectively implementing the curriculum in your classroom.

For example, watching an Oak subject expert explain complex ideas, such as the greenhouse effect or the water cycle, can provide you with a clear and comprehensive understanding of the concepts. By observing an expert's explanations and demonstrations, you too can communicate these complex scientific concepts to your pupils. You can also collaborate with other educators in the local community to share resources and best practices.

In conclusion, our geography curriculum and resources can be a valuable tool for teachers when it comes to teaching local geography at the primary level. It provides authentic and consistent resources, saves time and effort, allows for flexibility, and offers opportunities for professional development.

By using our geography curriculum and resources, teachers can help pupils develop a deeper understanding of their local geography, connect with their immediate environment, and develop a global perspective.

So, let's embrace the power of our geography curriculum and make geography come alive in our classrooms!

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