What makes the geography curriculum so special?
The Castle Mead geography curriculum hangs together under six key themes, which are split evenly between physical geography (the natural word) and human geography (human activity). Environmental geography (the impact of that human activity) is threaded through almost every aspect of the curriculum.
We believe that Geography is unique in bridging the social sciences and natural sciences for the purpose of seeking order and meaning in the diversity and complexity of the world. Scholars develop increasingly complex schemata through making connections between different topics, for example they will learn about the concept of ‘climate’ in Year 7 through their ‘Weather and Climate’ topic and go on to explore the causes and impacts of climate change in Year 8. Scholars will recognise the great differences in cultures, political systems, economies, landscapes and environments across the world, whilst exploring the links between them. At the heart of our teaching is the ‘vocabulary’ of the subject which ensures pupils are able to speak the language of Geography. As a result, they are able to understand the rules and procedures that allow them to construct meaning and to organise and attach significance to the vocabulary. Ultimately the teaching of Geography at Castle Mead Academy helps scholars to be more socially and environmentally sensitive, better informed, and more responsible as citizens and employees.
How is the geography curriculum enacted in a way that honours its beauty, richness and distinctiveness?
The teachers in the Castle Mead geography department are experts, both in their subject and in the craft of teaching. They plan lessons to the minutest detail, scripting questions and explanations, and practising their exposition for clarity and coherence.
Knowledge booklets are the main teaching and learning resource in geography lessons. Booklets are packed full of powerful knowledge, carefully sequenced and interlinked within and across topics and themes. Each booklet chapter contains key terms to be taught explicitly, meaning scholars are constantly developing their acquisition of tier 3 vocabulary. Each chapter also includes opportunities for scholars to retrieve prior knowledge from the current topic and earlier topics, and to consolidate their newly acquired knowledge through written responses and knowledge checks.
As the expert in the room, the teacher imparts knowledge and scholars listen intently and annotate their work booklets. However, there are also plentiful opportunities for scholars to formulate their ideas through paired discussion and to be active participants in their learning through mini whiteboard activities, hinge questions and choral response.
How does the geography curriculum equip scholars with knowledge that provides them with new ways of thinking about the world and has the capacity to take them beyond their own original experiences?
Geography allows scholars to learn about the world around them, both locally and globally. They also learn about the impact they, as a human, have on their surroundings. In this way, scholars are prompted to think about the change they can bring about in the world to create a more sustainable way of living for our planet.
How does the geography curriculum reflect intelligent interdisciplinarity, to allow scholars to explore meaningful connections?
The geography department has liaised closely with the maths department to develop a consistent approach to teaching map scales in geography, so that this is in alignment with the ratio is taught in maths. Similarly, there has been co-departmental work between science and geography looking at common approach to teaching about the structure of the Earth. Developing these meaningful connections across departments, capitalising on the crossover in knowledge and the application of discrete skills, helps to ensure that scholars are developing increasingly complex schemata that span across subjects.
Mrs S Beckingham