Overview of the Updated National Curriculum for Geography

The National Curriculum is constantly being reviewed and improved, and various subjects are often updated and implemented into schools up and down the country. We have a National Curriculum to ensure each student receives a particular level of education, by outlining structures within each subject on what children should be taught. In order to keep up with some of the best education systems from around the world, the National Curriculum changes every now and again to ensure future students receive the best possible education.

There has been a new approach to the National Curriculum over recent years; it now sets out the core knowledge that pupils should learn, but doesn’t necessarily specify any approaches in how teachers should teach. This appears to have now been left up to the discretion of each school that follows the National Curriculum.

For over 20 years, the National Curriculum has been revised and over the next couple of years there are a number of changes to be put in place, including some changes that have already happened.

Subject area: Geography

There have been a number of differences in the way Geography is now to be approached in the National Curriculum. It was decided that there would be a renewed emphasis on both locational and place knowledge, as well as the human and physical processes. Alongside this, some technical procedures should be covered such as using grid references.

There should also be a renewed commitment towards the concept of fieldwork and the use of maps, as well as written communication.

Key Stage 1 Geography

The National Curriculum includes certain topics that should be included, but not necessarily how they should be taught. For example, the focus at key stage 1 should be developing knowledge about the world, the United Kingdom and their locality. Pupils at this stage should be taught certain facts such as the world’s seven continents and their locations, and naming and identifying the four countries and capital cities of the UK. Trips to London may include extra curricular education that can aid pupil’s understanding of the United Kingdom.

In terms of human and physical geography, pupils should be able to identify seasonal weather patterns and identify hot and cold areas of the world. Pupils at key stage 1 should also be able to use world maps and globes to identify the UK and other countries or oceans studied at this stage.

Key Stage 2 Geography

As they progress, pupils should be expected to extend their knowledge to include Europe, North and South America as well as significant human and physical features. Pupils should be able to identify the position of latitude, longitude, Equator and other large features of the world such as the Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn.

Pupils at key stage 2 should now be taught more physical geography including the climate zones, biomes and features such as volcanoes and earthquakes. Trips to destinations such as Iceland could encourage further learning about some of the world’s physical geography.

There is a huge emphasis on geographical skills at this stage; pupils should be able to use the eight points of a compass, four and six-figure grid references and keys on Ordnance Survey maps in order to build on their knowledge.

Key Stage 3 Geography

Knowledge at this stage should include Africa, Russia, Asia and the Middle East, with a focus on their environmental regions such as deserts as well as major cities. Visiting places such as Morocco is the perfect place for curious geographers, with the Sahara Desert on your doorstep.

Physical geography should concentrate on geological timescales and plate tectonics and the change in climate over the years, from the Ice Age to the present day. There should also been some emphasis on how human activity relies on effective natural systems, and how human and physical processes interact to influence and change landscapes and environments.

Pupils at key stage 3 should be able to collect and analyse geographical data, and build further on their knowledge of globes and maps.

Of course, one of the best ways to enrich the National Curriculum, especially with Geography, is to visit such major cities and key physical characteristics. Taking an educational trip to further pupils’ understanding of the world they live in would provide a unique experience to enhance their learning. Using a company that organises such trips, like Adaptable Travel, could provide a once in a lifetime opportunity for many students up and down the country.


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