Geographical Association

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The leading subject association for all teachers of geography

The GA's Primary Position Statement

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Primary geography is a curriculum jewel

Geography is challenging, motivating, topical and fun. In our diverse society children need, more than ever before, to understand other people and cultures. The Geographical Association believes that geographical knowledge, concepts and skills are essential components of a broad and balanced curriculum. Geography makes a major contribution to children's physical, intellectual, social and emotional development. In short, geography matters! As Professor Andrew Goudie puts it, 'What other subject tells us so much about the great issues of our age?'.

Fieldwork and enquiry
Practical enquiries and investigations provide children with first-hand information and direct experience of the real world.

Knowing the locality
Studying the locality helps children to develop their sense of identity and self-esteem.

Maps and plans
Geography helps children to locate themselves in their surroundings and find their way from one place to another.

Photographs, charts and diagrams
Geographers use a great variety of visual devices to communicate findings in non-verbal ways.

Investigating issues
Some of the best work in geography comes when children debate issues, appreciate uncertainties and propose solutions to problems.

ICT
Interactive whiteboards, digital cameras and the internet allow children to record and interpret the world in new ways.

Cycles, patterns and processes
Geographical concepts such as cycles, patterns, processes and interaction provide a unique way of describing and analysing the world.

Sustainability and the environment
Sustainable development and the care of the environment are key issues for the twenty-first century and form an important part of the geography curriculum.

Critical and creative thinking
The best geographical studies promote critical and creative thinking skills and long term learning across the curriculum.

Respecting diversity
Geographical studies tackle mediated images which can, for example, produce negative stereotypes of other people and places

Global citizenship
Geography recognises that we are all interdependent global citizens with a responsibility to the planet and to each other.

Considering the future
Geography helps children to develop attitudes and form opinions about current issues, appreciate tensions and uncertainties and consider the future of the world and its peoples.

What can geography do for primary school children?

Geography offers children unique opportunities for learning.

Life skills World knowledge People and places
Developing the ability to make sense of information

Observing and interpreting the environment

Map reading and way finding

Understanding and interpreting pictures

Communicating findings in drawings, charts and diagrams

Recording and analysing data using ICT

Discussing issues and problems with others

Critical and creative thinking
Developing an awareness and understanding of distant places and environments

Recognising how people from all over the world are linked through travel and trade

Building a framework of place knowledge

Investigating major rivers, mountains and cities

Developing an appreciation of other peoples and cultures

Recognising the need for a just and equitable society
Developing an understanding of spatial relationships at a range of scales

Undertaking fieldwork, enquiries and active exploration of the locality

Exploring landscapes, settlements and human activity

Considering environmental issues and local Agenda 21

Becoming a global citizen with multicultural understanding


And children can usually tell you what they like, which can give you a start point for classroom or fieldwork:

  • I know where I live
  • I like looking after plants
  • I enjoy being out in the rain
  • I think we should try to produce less waste
  • I think we are all citizens of this world
  • I know why there are new buildings on my street
  • I like reading about other people and places
  • I enjoy playing in the role play area
  • I think our world is a wonderful place
  • I know why there's a pelican crossing outside my school
  • We come to school in the walking bus

Finding time for geography

Although there is nothing laid down in law, QCA suggests that as a 'starting point' foundation subjects, including geography, could each occupy 4% of curriculum time. At key stage 1 this translates to about 50 minutes a week (30 hours a year) and 55 minutes a week (33 hours a year) at key stage 2.

Excellence and enjoyment in primary schools: the contribution of geography

Advice on curriculum time can be found in the government's strategy for primary schools 'Excellence and Enjoyment' which encourages teachers to take ownership of the curriculum. 'Teachers have much more freedom than they often realise to design the timetable and decide what and how they teach'. Other ways of finding time for geography include theme days, clubs, school councils, extended projects and research.

Geography teaching and learning should be an enjoyable, creative and magical experience for pupils and teachers alike
Paula Richardson, Geography Consultant

Investigating the quality and character of different places is essential in any worthwhile geography curriculum. Children are uniquely equipped to undertake these studies as they have a freshness of vision and a strong natural desire to explore their surroundings
Stephen Scoffham, Principal Lecturer in Primary Education, Canterbury Christ Church University

Primary geography investigates real contexts and real life. It has relevance to children’s lives and engages them emotionally
Elaine Jackson, Chief Advisor/Joint Head of Service, Trafford Learning

Geography provokes and answers questions about the natural and human worlds, using different scales of enquiry to view them from different perspectives
The National Curriculum

In primary schools where geography is taught outstandingly well and where it is promoted by subject leaders and senior managers, the subject is seen as adding valuable breadth and richness to the curriculum
David Bell, HMI

The Geographical Association

What can the Geographical Association offer primary schools?

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Journals - Free Access for GA Members

The Spring 2014 issue of Primary Geography focuses on landscapes

The spring issue of Teaching Geography focuses on quality geography

The Spring 2014 issue of Geography

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