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Geography Curriculum Design

The study of geography is more than just recognising places on a map. It is about understanding the complexity of our world.  

President Barack Obama


At Thorpe Willoughby, we believe that Geography is, by nature, an investigative subject, which plays a critical role in developing children’s understanding of the world. We value the fascination with the world around us that geography can inspire.  At Thorpe, we seek to inspire in children this fascination and curiosity about the world through our curriculum design and half-termly themes where Geography is often a driver subject for our themes.


It is our aim that through these themes, our geography curriculum promotes children’s interest and understanding about diverse places, people, resources and natural and human environments, together with a deep understanding of the Earth’s key physical and human features. We intend that our geography curriculum helps to provoke and answer questions about the natural and human world. We consider how we can live school values through learning about our locality and wider world and promote children’s spiritual, moral, social and cultural development when considering the impact on the Earth and its natural resources. 


As children progress through our geography curriculum, their growing knowledge of the world deepens through our themes. We intend that children learn about significant people, places and events in a geographical context. We want our children to know significant and famous landmarks and geographical features locally and globally. We intend that children learn about significant events both locally, such as rivers flooding and the changes of land use in industry and globally, such as volcanoes erupting and deforestation, evaluating the interaction between these physical and human processes.


Children's knowledge and geographical skills are further deepened and applied through fieldwork. We believe fieldwork plays a vital role in our children becoming confident geographers, ready to question, investigate and make enquiries of their own about their local area (Thorpe Willoughby and Selby) and slightly further afield (Filey). Our commitment is to ensure our children can develop a real sense of who they are, their heritage and what makes our local area unique and special..


To ensure children can further develop their geographical knowledge and understanding, our curriculum focuses on subject-specific vocabulary. When planning our themes, the vocabulary required to succeed is identified, planned and modelled to ensure it enriches and widens children’s vocabulary.


What Geography Looks Like at Thorpe Willoughby

At our Foundation Stage, we teach Reception aged children geography through the EYFS Development Matters for Early Years. Understanding the World is one of the four specific areas within the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) and guides children to make sense of their physical world and their community. We want our geography curriculum to offer a range of experiences to increase their knowledge and sense of the ecologically diverse world around them.


Our geography curriculum for Key Stages 1 & 2 is developed around the Primary National
Curriculum, England. Geography is taught through our half-termly themes for example
Locational Knowledge of North & South America is taught through our ‘Planet Earth’ theme.
Geography regularly serves as the main driver subject for our themes ensuring explicit
geography teaching within an immersive curriculum.


Within our Geography Curriculum, we ensure:

  • Specific geographical studies are taught explicitly each year. Additional geography studies
    are identified within other areas of the curriculum where relevant to further embed and
    apply geographical knowledge and skills.
  • Children perform studies of local areas and understand issues relating to local areas.
  • All children engage in geographical studies of their immediate locality, UK, Europe and
    the wider world.
  • All children develop an understanding about where they live in comparison to the rest of the world.
  • All children develop an understanding of similarities and differences between areas of the
    UK and globally.
  • Children are exposed to the study of geography through maps and globes being displayed
    in every classroom/phase to highlight and promote key knowledge and locations.
  • All children will develop their geographical skills and fieldwork, building on previous skills.
    They will regularly use a range of sources including maps, atlases, and the internet to
    explore geography in a range of ways.
  • Children learn about significant people, places and events from around the world.
  • Enhanced experiences are provided to engage and support children’s learning. For
    example: visits to local areas such as Brayton Barff, and conducting practical fieldwork
    activities such as exploring littering in Thorpe Willoughby and signs of tourism in Filey.


Geography - Whole School Overview

Geography - Progression