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Medlock Geography Curriculum

Overall Approach

Our geography curriculum covers the full entitlement set out in the National Curriculum - Geography key stages 1 to 2 and is made accessible to all children, whatever their particular needs.  We structure our learning in geography to recognise that the acquisition of knowledge, and the development of skills, to make sense of that knowledge are complementary aspects of children’s growing understanding.


Whilst knowledge and skills are generally developed together, we do recognise that sometimes children may first need to be provided with the necessary knowledge before they are then supported in developing skills that best demonstrate their growing acquisition of particular concepts and curriculum content.

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Geography is taught either discretely or as part of a wider inter-connected theme.  In order to support children to move from a basic understanding to a deeper, more advanced understanding, our lessons build on prior knowledge, linking backwards and forwards to help embed pupils’ developing knowledge and conceptual understanding from one year to another, We return to key concepts so that our children know more and remember more and we do not presume that all the necessary prior learning components have been remembered (particularly for the many children who join us at different points through school).

At Medlock we agree with Dr Rita Gardner, Director, Royal Geographical Society (with IBG) that there are: “…few better ways to help young people become more knowledgeable, engaged with and perhaps respectful of their local environments and communities than to get them studying their local area – from its historical geography to the current social, environmental and economic processes shaping the places they live in.”  

Consequently, we ensure that what we teach in geography is relevant to, and values, the community we serve, by providing spaced opportunities to learn about the immediate locality; this learning is deepened and widened - in particular in Key Stage 2 - where ‘Ardwick’ is placed within a global scale as the children move through the school.  


We have also specifically built in opportunities for the children to learn about places in the world that reflect the diversity of the Medlock population, and so in Year 2 children learn about Nigeria, in Year 3 they look at Egypt, in Year 4 they learn about Islamic countries and in Year 6 they look at the world’s deserts, with special focus on the Sahara.

The curriculum is further enriched by fieldwork within and beyond the school grounds as well as a range of trips and opportunities which take the children far beyond the school gate. For example, in Year 2 the children enhance their learning on ‘Seas and Oceans’ by visiting the coast, in Year 

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4 they have the opportunity to take part in a river study and in Year 5 this is built upon when they complete fieldwork along a Manchester canal. 

Our Curriculum Framework

Within each geography topic, there are planned opportunities for children to develop their skills and to apply these skills to geographical enquiry and fieldwork; helping to demonstrate whether children know more. They will encounter aspects of six interconnected strands based upon the first three subject concepts in the


National Curriculum: 

Locational geography (scale and space) - where places are and where they are in relation to others. 

Place - what places are like

Human - man-made features

Physical (Natural) - natural features

We have chosen to include two further strands:

Plants and Animals - a sub-set of the natural strand but specifically reinforcing learning in biology and drawing on growing knowledge of the places studied to help children make further connections

Interdependence - helping children to understand that human beings have an impact on the environment – either positive or negative - and that what they can achieve is also affected by the physical environment of the areas in which they live.

The six overarching strands are repeated and built upon in every topic, enabling children to keep returning to knowledge and concepts. When learning, for example in Year 6 about the World’s deserts, children will have some specific prior knowledge to draw upon from their work on Egypt but will also be able to make comparisons to other contrasting biomes, such as the Amazonian rainforest and to build more secure locational knowledge so that they understand better how and why parts of the planet have different landscapes and climates and how this impacts upon those who live there.

Our teachers plan lessons from knowledge of children’s prior starting points with each session intended to build up to a more challenging end point. Using an enquiry/question-led approach within each topic, children are provided with the knowledge they need to answer smaller questions with each learning component leading to better understanding of the overarching aims of the topic. Download our Rainforests question web for an example of this.


What you might see in a lesson


At Medlock, although our geography lessons might look different, they all follow the same basic premise that all sessions must contain aspects of:

Geographical Data - data within a session could be maps, (use of Digimaps/Google Earth or paper), artefacts, visual data, statistics, graphs or text (real and imagined)

Geographical Ideas - Generalisations, concepts and theories. We pose questions or statements to challenge thinking or shift understanding.

Locational Contexts - Lessons look at the place at different scales:

global – continental – country – regional – Manchester – Ardwick  - school. Zooming in and out to develop children’s spatial understanding and understanding that the places/ physical phenomena being studied are not isolated but interconnected.   


As with all areas of the curriculum, teachers in geography should be clear about the topic end points and how these fit beside other prior or future learning within or beyond the child’s current Key Stage. To support this, teachers will build in end-of-topic assessments as well as regular opportunities, within a particular lesson or series of lessons to question and gauge whether children’s knowledge and understanding is becoming more secure. 

We recognise that, as set out in the National Curriculum, by the end of each key stage children are expected to be able to “know, apply and understand the matters, skills and processes specified in the relevant programme of study”. We are currently developing a new progression document that balances the skills that children need to have acquired alongside a more comprehensive long-term knowledge document.

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