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We are Geographers!


The geography curriculum at St James' aims to inspire in our pupils a curiosity about the world and its people. We strive to equip children with the knowledge and understanding of the world, people, places and environment and enable children to extend their knowledge and understanding beyond the United Kingdom. The children will acquire a range of knowledge, skills and language which they can then apply to other subjects and in a variety of situations.


We seek to broaden children’s real-life experiences, both inside and outside the school through access to our outdoor classrooms, educational visits, visitors, exploration and discovery.


Our school is very fortunate to live so close to not only the coast; with our school overlooking the Solway Firth, but also being located very near the Lake District. This enables our children to gain first-hand fieldwork experiences, allowing them to deepen their geographical skills in the local area.


We aim to stimulate the children’s interest in their surroundings and also the wider world by expanding horizons out of the local community. We want our children to have a curiosity and fascination of the world that will stay with them through their lives. We hope to instil a love for enquiry and investigation in our children and hopefully we can motivate our pupils to take an active part in contributing to and protecting this world as they grow up. 

Geography is an investigative subject, which develops an understanding of concepts, knowledge and skills. It is our intention that pupils ‘think like a geographer’ through the curriculum, accumulating and connecting substantive and disciplinary geographical knowledge.


Substantive knowledge - this is the subject knowledge and vocabulary used to learn about the world.

Disciplinary knowledge  this is the use of that knowledge and how children construct understanding and ‘think like a geographer’.

  • Locational Knowledge: - Builds own identity and develops their sense of place, develops pupils’ appreciation of distance and scale, helps pupils learn about the orientation of the world and how to navigate.
  • Place Knowledge: What a place is like and how pupils connect to those places and locations and identify themselves within the world e.g. - connection of location and physical and /or human geography
  • Human and physical geography: The interactions between people, places and the environment.
  • Geographical skills and fieldwork: Using maps, globes and compasses, along with what you know to explain location, place and human and physical features associated with it.                                                                                           

‘Thinking as a geographer’, also focuses on:

  • Place and Space
  • Scale and Connection
  • Environment and sustainability
  • Culture and diversity (Uniqueness)


The teaching of Geography at St James’

What do we teach?

The Early Years Foundation Stage Curriculum supports childrens understanding of geography through the planning and teaching of ‘Understanding the World’. Children in the early years will explore the environment around them both indoors and outdoors. They are encouraged to talk, draw and write about what they can observe using their senses. Children are guided to make sense of their physical world and community through a range of personal experiences.  Children enter school knowing their homes, garden and street. As they move through the early years we extend this further by looking at their local community of Whitehaven and looking at places familiar to them that are further afield. They explore how places change and look at how the seasons change and how places change over longer periods of time. Children start to learn about the world around them. Practitioners encourage investigative behaviour and raise questions such as, 'What can you see/hear?’ ,‘What is happening?’, ‘How do you feel about being in ….?’ , ‘Is it the same as…./or different to..?’ ‘Can you describe what it’s like to…’ ‘Is this like anywhere else you know?’ 


In Key Stage One  geography is taught in half termly blocks and cross-curricular links made to other subjects where appropriate. 

The sequence in KS1 focuses young children to develop a sense of place, scale and an understanding of human and physical geographical features. The children learn about the purpose and use of sketch maps as well as the key features they need to include. Map skills and fieldwork are essential to support children in developing an understanding of how to explain and describe a place, the people who live there, its space and scale.


Children study the orientation of the world through acquiring and making locational sense of the 7 continents and 5 oceans of the world. They extend their knowledge and study the countries and capital cities of the United Kingdom, along with the oceans and seas that surround us. The children will also study seasonal and daily weather patterns in the United Kingdom, as well as hot and cold areas of the world in relation to the Equator and the North/South Poles. Further studies support retrieval. The use of maps, globes and atlases is essential to explain how we know where a place is, and how to locate it.  


Throughout KS1, pupils enhance their locational knowledge by studying and identifying human and physical features of places. To deepen this understanding and transfer concepts, our pupils study contrasting locations throughout the world. The location of these areas in the world are deliberately chosen to offer culturally diverse and contrasting places. Pupils study the human and physical features of a non-European location in Africa, such as Nairobi as part of their ‘Where in the world is Kenya?’ unit and in Australia, such as Sydney, Hobart and Darwin in our ‘Do you wish you were here, Australia?’ unit. These studies offer rich opportunities to know, compare and contrast different cultures using the consistent thread of human and physical features.


In our units: ‘Where in the world are we?’, ‘What is an island?’ and ‘Would you like to be beside the seaside?’, fieldwork and map skills are further developed, using cardinal points of a compass and pupils retrieve and apply knowledge about human and physical features in their local context. Google maps are introduced to pupils in KS1. Simple keys and features are identified and mapped locally to help begin to understand place, distance and scale.


How do we know what the children have learned?

How is Geography assessed?

We measure the impact of our curriculum through checkpoints using the following methods:

  • Checkpoint one  At the start of each unit, children record in books what they already know  .
  • Checkpoint 2 - Review of previous learning at the beginning of each lesson
  • Checkpoint 3 - End of unit quiz of key knowledge
  • Checkpoint 4 – Continuing review of previous learning weeks later to check ‘sticky knowledge’
  • Checkpoint 5 – Pupil voice and book study

We also use:

  • Questioning
  • Talking to teachers
  • Low stakes ‘Drop-in’ observations
  • Feedback and marking
  • Progress in book matches the curriculum intent


Our subject leader for geography is Mrs Emma Butterworth.

Geography Curriculum Overview

Geography progression sequences

Progression sequence of what geography looks like at our school

EYFS Enquiry - Where does our food come from? Visit to Strudda Bank Farm

KS1 Daily Fieldwork Enquiry - What is the weather like in Whitehaven compared to Nairobi?