How each unit/topic works

A puzzling key question is introduced at the start of a new topic which engages children in geographical enquiry through which the learning will grow over a sequence of lessons. Higher up the school children may devise their own enquiry questions and decide ways in which to investigate/ explore these. Each topic also begins with an element of ‘awe and wonder’ to ‘hook’ the children into their new topic. This may include a trip, visit in, use of immersive experiences or other.

Each unit plans to meet the criteria of the National Curriculum, extending children’s geographical knowledge and developing their skills. As children move through year groups, prior learning is reinforced to strengthen ‘hereafter knowledge’.

Each unit of learning focuses on understanding of key concepts and the key question for each unit determines and reflects these.

At the end of each unit, children of all ages are required to organise and communicate their findings so their learning gains coherence. Sometimes children will be given help to communicate clearly but sometimes they will use their understanding to decide how to organise and present their ideas most effectively.

Geographical skills are embedded, learnt and utilised throughout the unit as geographical knowledge is learnt, and built upon again and again.

Geographical Concepts

Geography knowledge is rarely static: the world, and our understanding of it, is continually changing. Yet some key geographical concepts are enduring and will be relevant in any geography curriculum past, present or future:

  • Location

    Including: location of globally significant places (terrestrial and marine); locating countries, cities, continents and oceans and their characteristics; key topographical features: locational and directional language; location of features and routes on a map; changing of locations over time; compass points and grid references; position and significance of latitude; longitude, Equator, Northern Hemisphere, Southern Hemisphere, the Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn, Arctic and Antarctic Circle, the Prime/Greenwich Meridian and time zones (including day and night).

  • Space

    Including: where features and places are located and their distribution; how big or small natural landscapes are and the impact they have; the patterns natural landscapes form; the formal layout of the natural and human environment; fluidity and change.

  • Place

    Including: geographical similarities and differences across the globe.

  • Scale (the lens through which to look at the world)

    Including: small, local, regional, national, continental and oceanic; the whole world; how scale impacts on understanding environmental and place processes and making predictions.

  • Human and Physical Geography

    Including: vocabulary related to human and physical geography; weather patterns; recognising landmarks and human and physical features; biomes and vegetation belts; rivers; mountains; volcanoes and earthquakes; the water cycle; settlement and land use; economic activity; distribution of natural resources (including energy, food, minerals and water).

  • Interconnections

    Including: the nature and significance of links between features, places, events and people; recognition and appreciation of interdependence (locally regionally or globally); the importance and impact of maintaining, modifying or breaking interconnections.

  • Cultural Awareness and Diversity

    Including: local and global diversity and the disparities in and of people’s lives; communities and their connections to the natural world; the shared, common and different ways in which people use environmental resources (adapt places, interact, value, modify or conserve their local area); natural cultures, places and identities.

  • The Environment (physical and human processes)

    Including: the land and the oceanic surface of the world; the surface of the Earth, its geology and its atmosphere; the range of the Earth’s natural and people-created features; the natural actions affecting the world; the human actions affecting the world (for example, pollution, global warming and climate change); the processes that create and change natural, built, modified and social environments; weather and climate; ecosystems; natural hazards.

  • Environmental Impact and Sustainability

    Including: the interactions between the natural and human environments and their effects on each other; the quality, management and care of environments, places and lives; the responsible and exploitative use of Earth’s resources; the degrading of natural and modified environments and damage to people’s lives; ways to improve people’s futures and earth, and the ethics of doing so.

Geographical Skills

  • Observation
  • Data collection
  • Data analysis
  • Communicating about data

    (collect, analyse and communicate a range of data gathered through experiences of fieldwork that deepen their understanding of geographical processes)

  • Using sources of geographical information
  • Interpreting sources of geographical information

    (interpret a range of sources of geographical information, including maps, diagrams, globes, aerial photographs and Geographical Information Systems (GIS))

  • Communicating information in a variety of ways

    (communicate geographical information in a variety of ways, including through maps, numerical and quantitative skills and writing at length.)

  • Making meaning by using specific and precise geographical vocabulary and the ‘language of geography’

Geography Lessons

At Thomas Jones we ensure that most of our geography lessons are planned around enquiry. Geographical enquiry is an active process of investigation in which pupils are fully engaged. Enquiry work can and should include open-ended activities in which pupils are independently discovering things for themselves as well as more tightly teacher controlled activities, and a full range of more or less structured approaches in between.

Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS)

The early learning goals in the EYFS aim to guide a child in making sense of their physical world and their community by exploring, observing, and finding out about people, places, technology and the environment. Enquiry and exploration are central to all aspects of the EYFS.

Key Stage 1

In Years 1 and 2, children begin to develop a geographical vocabulary by learning about where they live, as well as one other small area of the United Kingdom and a small area in a contrasting non-European country. They learn about weather patterns in the United Kingdom and hot and cold areas of the world. They use ICT, world maps, atlases and globes, simple compass directions, aerial photographs and plans, as well as simple fieldwork and observational skills. The sequence of UK regions is taught in an order that makes sense relative to the location of the school and home, beginning with ‘My World, Your World’, focusing on the children’s local area.

KS1 Geography Curriculum Map

Autumn Term

Spring Term

Summer Term

Year One

My World Your World

· Understanding and making maps (Ladbroke Grove)

· Human and physical features

Castles & Battles

· Locality of a castle (near geographical features).

· Mapping of a castle.


· Continents and oceans – naming and locating (hot or cold)

· Seasonal and daily UK weather patterns

· UK countries, capital cities and seas

· Compass directions and positional language.

Year Two

Exploration & Discovery

· Name and locate the 7 continents and the oceans.

· Chart and record seasonal and daily weather patterns in the UK. Study of hot and cold areas in the world (in relation to Equator, North and South Poles).

Near and Far

· Recap weather patterns, hot and cold areas in the world.

· Compare and contrast human and physical geography of small area of UK and small area in a contrasting non-European country.

Coast to Coast

· Reading and devising maps.

· Geographical skills and fieldwork based on the UK (return to continents, oceans and connect to coasts, seaside link to History)

Key Stage 2

In Years 3 to 6, the geography curriculum builds and expands on previous knowledge. Children’s locational knowledge is developed examining latitude, longitude and time zones. Children use maps to focus on Europe, North and South America, concentrating on regions, key physical / human characteristics, countries and major cities. Children also work on locating the counties and cities of the United Kingdom, and begin to explore their human and physical characteristics.

Children also examine geographical similarities and differences by comparing the geography of a region of the United Kingdom (Cornwall and London) with a region in a European country (Various capital cities), and with a region in South America (Along the Amazon).

For human and physical geography, children are taught to describe and understand key aspects of geography, for example: climate zones, rivers, mountains, volcanoes, earthquakes, the water cycle, types of settlement, economic activity and the distribution of natural resources.

KS2 Geography Curriculum Map

Autumn Term

Spring Term

Summer Term

Year Three

A Tour Around Britain

· Locate countries/cities of United Kingdom on a range of maps.

· Identify human/physical characteristics, key topographical features land use patterns.

· Case study of human/physical geography in a region of the UK.

Ancient Britain

· Changes of human and physical characteristics over time.

Pyramids & Papyrus

· Locating countries on a range of maps.

· Physical features (rivers)

Year Four

A tour around Europe

· Locate the world’s countries and major cities using maps to focus on Europe.

· Compare and contrast UK and European countries.

· Study of human/physical geography of Europe.

· Study of London landmarks.

Building an Empire

· Map work

Planet Earth

· Structure of the earth, physical geography

· Climate change, natural disasters, volcanoes, earthquakes.

· Project work – fundraising

· To investigate one issue in the local area.

· To investigate one issue worldwide (plastic)

Year Five


Currently being mapped

Along The Amazon

· Locational knowledge

· Physical geography, biomes, vegetation belts, rivers

· The water cycle.

Anglo Saxons

Currently being mapped

Year Six

Hard Times

Currently being mapped

Lost Kingdoms

Currently being mapped

The Birth of Democracy

Currently being mapped