What is Geography?

Geography is Greek for writing about the Earth.

Our definition for KS2- Geography is the study of places and the Earth’s key physical and human processes.

Our definition for Foundation and KS1- Geography is learning about our world.

Geographical enquiry allows children to learn about their immediate surroundings and the broader world, developing their sense of identity and an awareness of their place in the world. It makes children aware of how the environment can affect their lives and determine decision-making. It develops knowledge of places and environments throughout the world, an understanding of maps and a broad range of investigative skills.

The study of Geography teaches children about their place in an increasingly global world through learning about the United Kingdom and its relationships with Europe and the rest of the world.


“Geography is the subject which holds the key to our future. It is a living, breathing subject, constantly adapting itself to change. It is dynamic and relevant. For me, geography is a great adventure with purpose.”

Michael Palin

We want our children to leave Bishop Alexander LEAD Academy being resilient, responsible, respectful, aspirational, caring and independent (our school values). We also want our children to ‘broaden their horizons’ and have knowledge of the world outside our school. We want to make a difference in the lives of our children and ensure that they have a life-long passion for learning. Geography supports these aspirations for our children in many different ways.

Through our geography curriculum we aim to widen our children’s knowledge, skills and understanding of the wider world.  Geography is a hugely important subject, especially in today’s world. We want our children to have the knowledge to make their own informed decisions in life. We want our children to have the skills to question evidence that they are given and to interrogate; not accepting information at face value. We want our children to understand the value of our planet and appreciate all that it does. We want our children to know how to protect our planet for the benefit of future generations. We do this through the three main concepts of geography; place, space and environment. We ensure that the concept of geographical enquiry runs through all of these.

Through our teaching we consistently aim to raise awareness of geography as a subject and as a potential career field for the future. The children should leave our school knowing many different career prospects for geographers. Those which are inherently linked with the subject and also those which use the skills that geography as a subject teaches.

They should be excited by geography and eager to learn more, questioning what they have learnt so far. They should be able to debate current world issues linked to what they are learning. The children should be fully invested in the purpose of their learning and engaged through the use of technology, fieldwork and making links to their experiences. Our children will not be limited by their starting points or life experiences. We will bring the experiences to them.

How do we teach Geography?

Throughout our school we believe that Geography should be taught through an enquiry-led approach, utilising the children’s critical thinking skills. Using an enquiry-led approach means that our children can ask their own questions and form their own opinions (and be willing to change them). They will be able to use their knowledge and research to structure an argument. It is especially important in today’s society to be critical and to think about what the motives are for writing certain news headlines or to look at the story behind facts and figures. We will explicitly teach children to analyse evidence and think critically to form their own opinions. We allow the children to develop their own ideas and develop their skills through carefully posed questions and the sources we use. We begin with a question, which can be posed by the teacher or the children (as they progress). We conduct a pre-assessment before a topic to understand their knowledge and skills on a subject. To enhance our learning and to stimulate the imagination we try to relate this to the children’s own experiences and interests in our topics.

We ‘bring learning to life’ to ensure that they are passionate about geography and, as we know social mobility is low in Newark, we try to give children experiences of the wider world. At Bishop Alexander we make use of technology so that even if we cannot physically take them to another part of the world, they can experience being there using virtual reality. We use trips and residentials to give our children a taste of what is outside of Newark, giving them life experiences that they would not otherwise have. We make sure that there are lots of opportunities for outdoor and physical learning experiences to excite children. They know that geography is not just found on a map in the classroom or written in a book.

Our topics are structured so that the children can work through 3 key concepts of geography; Place, Space and Environment. Running through this is the concept of Geographical Enquiry (procedures and skills). This is how we define them:

Place- a specific part of the Earth’s surface that has been named and given meaning by people (places, territories and regions)

Space- the three-dimensional surface of the Earth and the differences across spaces (patterns and links)

Environment- our living and non-living surroundings and their natural, managed or constructed features (physical and human interaction).

We structure our curriculum using whole school topics and we focus on specific subjects in blocks over a number of weeks. This enables us to go deeper into subjects and to make meaningful connections with other subjects.

In the Foundation Stage children develop crucial knowledge, skills and understanding that help them to make sense of the world and form the foundation for historical work in Key Stage 1. They will:

  • Observe, investigate and identify features in the place they live and the natural world. We will foster respect for the environment around us, making use of our forest school area on site.
  • Show interest in the environment through exploration and discuss what they like and dislike.
  • Create and use simple maps, plans, paintings, drawings and models of observations of the area and imaginary landscapes.
  • Use role play and imagination to explore other cultures, looking at their differences and similarities.
  • Link their investigation and exploration to the geographically based elements of the Foundation Stage curriculum.

In Key Stage 1, Geography continues the understanding begun in the Foundation Stage. They will investigate aspects of the world, the United Kingdom and their local area. Children will:

  • Develop an understanding of subject specific vocabulary relating to human and physical geographical features.
  • Gain locational knowledge through learning about the continents, oceans and the countries, capital cities and surrounding seas of the United Kingdom.
  • Develop their knowledge of place through the study of a small area of the United Kingdom and that of a contrasting non-European country.
  • Understand human and physical geography through looking at the daily and seasonal weather patterns and hot and cold areas of the world in relation to the equator and the North and South Poles.
  • Develop their geographical and fieldwork skills through their use of maps, atlases and globes to study the world. They will also use compass directions and locational and directional language. Children will also use these skills through studying our school and its surrounding environment.
  • Make use of aerial photographs and plan perspectives to look at features of a place and gain an understanding through creating their own maps. School visits will seek to enhance this learning.

In Key Stage 2, pupils expand their knowledge from the local area to include the United Kingdom, Europe and North and South America. Children will:

  • Further develop an understanding of subject specific vocabulary relating to human and physical geographical features of specific places and our globe.
  • Gain locational knowledge through learning about the countries of the world, their features and their major cities. Children will also learn about the counties of the United Kingdom and its key topographical features (including any change over time).
  • Develop their knowledge of place through the study of a region of the United Kingdom, a region of a European country and a region within North or South America.
  • Develop an understanding of physical geography and human geography with increasing depth.
  • Develop their geographical and fieldwork skills through their use of maps, atlases and globes and digital mapping to study the world. They will also use the eight points of a compass and four and six figure grid references. School visits can be used to maximise this learning.
  • Find out about the local area by observing, measuring and recording the human and physical geographical features in the area and present these in a range of ways.

National Curriculum in England: Geography Programmes of Study