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A Summary of Ofsted's Geography Subject Report: Getting Our Bearings

Ofsted released their subject report for Geography on 19th September 2023. The report, which can be accessed here, uses the research review released in 2021 to investigate the effectiveness of geography curricula across England's schools. I would recommend reading both reports in full.


The report paints a mainly positive picture of geography, and certainly an improved picture since the previous report which was released in 2011.


For those wonderful people who would like to support my work, for the price of a coffee, you can download a PDF and editable word document of this summary, along with a visual summary, from my Gumroad site.

If not, I hope this summary is helpful (you can find the link to download the visual at the bottom of the page).


Main Findings

  • There have been many recent improvements to most schools' geography curricula. The improvements relate to the specification of content, progression over time, and the ambition of the content.

  • In primary schools, children generally have a strong concept of geography. Pupils have distinct geography sessions rather than blended topic lessons, even if cross-curricular approaches are used.

  • In secondary schools, the KS3 curriculum can often be more ambitious than the KS4 curriculum due to the way in which exam specifications can narrow curriculum content. In both KS4 and KS5, the exam specifications can limit the scope of the curriculum.

  • The National Curriculum is used as the starting point for all geography curricula in the schools from the study. However, some schools disregard the 'aims' section which means the content selection is sometimes less considered in terms of developing wider geographical concepts such as place, space and interconnection.

  • In many schools, topics can still sit in isolation to each other. Leaders have considered within topics but have made fewer decisions about how knowledge taught in one topic would be used in other topics.

  • Although the EYFS now has much more geographical content, especially vocabulary, the provision in Year 1 can sometimes mean children are only repeating content, rather than being taught new content.

  • In terms of SEND provision, in almost all schools, all pupils work towards the same curriculum goals. It is now far less common for SEND pupils to be given differentiated curriculum goals which limit their learning; however, for a small number of pupils, such provision would be appropriate.

  • There is a positive correlation between the amount of curriculum time and pupil achievement.

  • In some primary schools, curriculum rationale was unclear: in some schools, content is influenced by content in other subjects such as English and history.

  • Using enquiry questions with pupils is most effective when the enquiry questions are used to structure teaching sequences.

  • Retrieval practice is used more effectively when it prompts pupils to remember knowledge which will be used and developed later in the lesson.

  • Identifying the component knowledge of each scheme of learning supports more accurate assessment.

  • Summative assessment is used well in most secondary schools; in primary, teachers are often asked to make judgements but these are not always underpinned by accurate or valid assessments.

  • The concept of 'place' is often poorly planned in the curriculum. This is often a result of teaching too many places at a superficial level. This often leads to teaching a 'single story' about a place, which can cause misconceptions. Alternatively, it can lead to pupils learning disconnected facts.

  • In almost all schools, fieldwork is underdeveloped. Often, it is confused with field trips, resulting in children not being taught the knowledge for the processes of fieldwork. Commonly, there is a lack of intentional progression of the procedural knowledge of fieldwork too.

  • Disciplinary knowledge is often a weaker area of the geography curriculum in both primary and secondary settings.

  • Pupils are sometimes given too much information and insufficient time to process and apply it.

  • Subject knowledge is usually good in both primary and secondary sectors.

  • Many lessons at secondary are taught by non-specialists for whom support can often be ineffective. Non-specialists can be supported by providing centralised resources and guidance from subject leads. Time for such guidance is often limited.

  • In all phases, teachers very rarely receive subject-specific CPD.

  • The two main barriers to high-quality geography lessons: time and staffing.


Recommendations


Curriculum

  • Consider how pupils will build on knowledge across a range of topics.

  • At KS4 and KS5, consider how to sequence content of exam specifications in a way that helps pupils develop a stronger understanding over time.

  • Ensure that pupils learn about place in an appropriately nuanced and complex way. This might mean revisiting the same places throughout the curriculum but exploring them through different lenses.

  • Plan procedural knowledge into the curriculum in the same was as substantive knowledge is planned for.

  • Teach pupils about fieldwork and its components: to collect, present and analyse data, and how to reach and evaluate conclusions based on the data.

Pedagogy

  • Identify potential misconceptions and plan how to identify and address them.

  • Ensure pupils have the opportunity to apply what they have been taught as well as ensuring what has been taught has been learned securely.

  • Consider the necessary prior knowledge pupils should have to access the content of their lessons.

  • Ensure summative judgements are based on sound evidence.

  • Plan assessments that pupils know both component knowledge and how to apply it.

Subject and School Systems

  • Time given to geography should match the ambitions for the curriculum.

  • Support subject leads to have a deeper understanding of the curriculum concepts of geography (as identified in the research review) and how these can be used to shape a school's curriculum.

  • Support non-specialists with their pedagogy - especially their explanations of complex geographical ideas and their ability to identify misconceptions.

Other Organisations

  • Provide subject-specific CPD for areas such as GIS, fieldwork and teaching procedural knowledge.

  • Ensure primary ITE trainees have enough time to learn about common misconceptions.

  • Support subject leads to have a deeper understanding of the curriculum concepts of geography (as identified in the research review) and how these can be used to shape a school's curriculum.


PRIMARY


The Geography Curriculum


Scope and Ambition
  • Some schools seem unaware of not fully meeting the scope of the National Curriculum. Where this is the case it is most usually because the school does not cover a region in a European country or a specific region of the UK (KS2 requirement)

  • Schools vary in their depth of coverage. Some topics are only given scant curriculum time and pupils consequently do not achieve the aims of the National Curriculum.

  • Pupils can develop secure knowledge by encountering knowledge and concepts at different points of the curriculum.

  • Time is one of the biggest limiting factors; there is huge variation in curriculum time across the primary sector ranging from 18 hours to 72 hours per year. A lack of sufficient time often leaves to curriculum goals not being achieved.

  • Importantly, increasing curriculum time does not necessarily equal improved quality: it is important to use this time to develop depth and breadth of knowledge.

  • Many schools go beyond the scope of the NC, especially for place knowledge. It is important, however, to consider which places pupils learn about at KS3 and which aspects they learn about so as not to cause unnecessary repetitions of content.

  • Schools are often ambitious about the vocabulary they wish their pupils to learn. In the strongest settings, schools consider how such terms are introduced and how they are revisited over time to deepen pupils' understanding.

Content Selection
  • All schools in the sample used the NC to decide what to teach.

  • Schools usually use the NC outcomes as a way to select titles for topics, but they rarely use the aims of the national curriculum or guidance from subject associations when selecting specific content to be taught.

  • When there is no geographical rationale for which content is selected, the curriculum can lack coherence. A particular area to consider is when content is chosen based on what pupils are learning about in other subjects such as history or English.

  • It is important to consider how the content from each unit of learning links together and be careful not to teach children isolated facts which are disconnected from their geographical schema.

  • Some schools select content based on pupils' interests or backgrounds.

  • In almost all schools, leaders use geography to create windows to different worlds, taking children beyond their existing experiences and interests.

  • For some content, such as climate change or migration, it is important to teach the geographical content rather than encouraging pupils to behave in certain ways or hold certain beliefs. The geographical content should help the pupils make up their own minds because they can understand the concepts more ably,.

  • A clear rationale behind content selection, especially place selection, leads to stronger curriculum thinking.

  • A common issue in the primary curriculum is lacking intentionality about the regions of the UK, European countries and North or South America; sometimes whole countries or continents are taught, rather than a focused region.

  • Some teaching about places results in narrow learning where pupils explore only a 'single story' about a place. This can result in misconceptions and stereotypes not being addressed. Revisiting the same location across KS2, but looking at it through different lenses, can help pupils to gain a deeper and richer understanding of the places they study.

  • Some schools have not considered the body of content they intend pupils to learn about fieldwork; sometimes, fieldwork is confused with field trips. Rather than seeing fieldwork as an activity to be done, schools should consider what content needs to be taught so that pupils understand and achieve respective fluency in how geographers work.

Geographical Concepts
  • Very few schools have considered the role of geographical concepts in their curriculum. Some schools have the subject-specific concepts (such as place, space and scale) in their curriculum, but leaders have not considered progression within them.

  • Focus more generally appears to be given to the component knowledge leaders intend their pupils to learn. The stronger curriculum thinking of how this knowledge is built upon leads pupils to attain a deeper appreciation of the subject.

  • It is important not to reduce concepts to vocabulary lists.

Sequencing
  • Sequencing within individual topics is a strength in most schools, demonstrating how knowledge is built over time.

  • Pupils rarely have the opportunity to build on what they have learned in previously taught units or to apply their knowledge in later units.

  • Very few schools take a cross-curricular approach to teaching geography.

  • Although most lessons are called 'geography', most sequencing decisions are strongly influenced by cross-curricular considerations.

  • When these links are well-planned, they were useful; however, most appear to be limited to superficial connections.

Disciplinary Knowledge
  • Very few schools have considered the role of disciplinary knowledge in the curriculum.

  • In many schools, pupils could not describe what it means to 'do geography'. They lack the knowledge of how geographical knowledge is created, revised and changed.

  • There is a link between the strength of considerations about disciplinary knowledge and the quality of teaching.

  • In the sample schools, geographical models (e.g. theories) were not used.

  • Some schools use an enquiry approach to structuring their curriculum. Sometimes, overarching questions are used to link together lessons. When pupils are taught the stages of geographical enquiry, this can enhance the impact of this approach.

  • However, it was common in the sample schools for an enquiry approach to be poorly implemented. Often, the enquiry questions appeared to be an afterthought rather than as an approach to organise and sequence content.

The Use of Fieldwork
  • The pandemic is often cited as a reason why schools are behind with implementing fieldwork.

  • Fieldwork is often conflated with field trips: this leads to pupils not being taught how to observe, measure, record and present geographical information about the places they have studied.

  • Schools should consider the progression in fieldwork in terms of how pupils are getting better at it over time.

  • Fieldwork is most effective when it is built into the curriculum.

  • Fieldwork is also taught effectively if pupils are taught in class how to carry out elements of it; they do not always have to go outside of school or the school grounds. Furthermore, pupils can be given data so they can focus on a particular aspect of fieldwork.

Impact
  • The standard of curriculum considerations and ensuring sufficient time to teach it largely determine the quality of the curriculum.

  • Locational knowledge is the strongest area of the curriculum in most schools. However, some pupils struggle to use the correct language when discussing a place's location.

  • It is common for place knowledge to be a weakness. Pupils can often struggle to provide more than lists of disconnected facts and answer questions on the places they have studied.

  • Place knowledge can often lack nuance: pupils can describe places too simplistically, often presenting unaddressed misconceptions.

  • Procedural knowledge is varied across the sector.

Misconceptions
  • Pupils often learn misconceptions about geography which creates two main problems.

  • Firstly, these misconceptions affect the way pupils see the world. For example, some have the misconception that an entire continent is a country in which everyone is 'poor'.

  • Secondly, misconceptions make it more difficult to learn new things.

  • Occasionally, misconceptions are passed on to pupils from teachers. This can be caused by either an issue with subject knowledge, or the teacher not being aware of how their words might be interpreted.

  • Misconceptions occur across bodies of knowledge, ranging from procedural to attitudinal.

  • Formative assessment is used effectively in stronger settings to identify misconceptions; lessons are then adapted to address them.

  • There is a frustration in the sector as many teachers find it difficult to know the type of misconceptions which are likely in geography. This is especially so for ECTs who lack the experience of teaching specific content.

  • In the most effective settings, leaders make teachers aware of likely misconceptions and schemes of work have been planned to tackle them directly,


Pedagogy

  • Schools use a variety of teaching methods but there are strong commonalities across the sector.

  • Most lessons follow the format of teacher input supported by visual resources or data; followed by explanation and questioning; followed by a pupil task based on the exposition.

  • In the schools with the strongest practice, the pupil tasks are geographical in nature, such as answering geographical questions. In less effective practice, the tasks usually focus more on creating something like a story or diary entry. This often results in the geography being 'lost'.

  • In some schools, there is an ineffective balance between pupils being introduced to new information and then doing something with this information. This includes pupils needing to research content to find out about a place themselves, or on the other extreme, pupils being given lots of information but having insufficient time to act upon it.

  • Teachers mainly feel confident about teaching geography, often because of effective support by their subject leads who regularly provide detailed teaching notes to help teachers with explanations.

  • Where there are weaknesses in explanations, this is likely because teachers struggle to identify the component knowledge pupils need to understand what is being explained.

  • Retrieval and recall is often used effectively to activate prior knowledge so that pupils build upon what they already know.

  • The most effective retrieval practice is when recalled content is then referred to in the lesson.

  • Structuring the geography curriculum around enquiry questions can be very effective provided that pupils are taught the processes of geographical enquiry; it is far less effective if pupils need to find things out for themselves.

Assessment and Feedback

  • Summative assessment is rare in geography. When it is used, it can often be imprecise due to the criteria on which teachers need to make judgements.

  • Summative judgements are often based on pupils' work in books; this is often heavily supported and thus does not accurately show what pupils can do.

  • Formative assessment is much more widely used. Teachers constantly check knowledge and understanding throughout lessons.

  • There are sometimes mismatches between how leaders think geography is being assessed and what this actually looks like. For example, some teachers base their assessment on volunteered answers, rather than whole-class quizzing.

  • Quizzes can be effective but their effectiveness as assessment tools depends on the clarity of leaders' curriculum intentions.

  • Careful task consideration can support effective assessment. A mixture of short tasks to check component knowledge, and longer tasks to check how this knowledge is applied.

  • Most schools are strong at adapting curriculum plans based on their assessments.

  • Pupils rarely receive subject-specific feedback; most feedback relates to presentation or literacy.

  • Verbal feedback is the most common form of feedback given.

  • Sometimes incorrect answers are praised or not corrected.

  • It can be very effective to give pupils examples of high-quality model answers against which pupils can compare their own answers and make subsequent corrections. This does depend on pupils having sufficient subject knowledge to understand the gap and how to close it.

  • Where feedback is stronger, pupils are more confident about what makes a good geographical answer and what it means to get better at geography.

Leadership

  • Schools vary in how much curriculum time is given to geography. Whilst the quality of the curriculum often corresponds with the time dedicated to it, especially at the extremes of time spent, more curriculum time does not always result in a high-quality curriculum. It is important to plan how this time should be used effectively.

  • When teaching geography using a cross-curricular approach, leaders can sometimes overestimate how much geographical content is being taught; often, historical content dominates.

  • Geography is most commonly taught as a distinct subject.

  • Most subject leaders feel they have sufficient resources to teach the curriculum; however, many are not aware of the other types of resources which are available and could be used to help pupils learn geography.

  • None of the schools in the study used textbooks. Many teachers report that they spend a lot of time finding resources.

  • Digital technology can be used to help pupils learn geography e.g. GIS systems which allow layers of information to be placed on maps.

  • Digital technology is less effective when it is used for research and pupils are not taught, and do not know, how to find out about a place.

  • Most leaders are positive about supporting fieldwork to take place. However, much of what is described as fieldwork is actually a field trip.

  • There is often little practical support for fieldwork despite leaders' good intentions. Teachers often require help to plan fieldwork effectively.

  • Leaders often fail to provide sufficient curriculum time for pupils to learn about, and learn from, the fieldwork they carry out.

Professional Development

  • Very few primary schools have access to a subject specialist.

  • Most schools provide very little subject-specific CPD. Most time is spent on providing administrative information rather than on developing subject knowledge.

  • Trust-wide subject networks can be helpful in supporting teachers.

  • More generic CPD on teaching approaches is often considered helpful in supporting teachers to teach geography effectively.

  • Very few schools and teachers are members of geography subject associations, despite many who are members of such bodies finding them very useful or curriculum development.


SECONDARY


The Geography Curriculum


Scope and Ambition
  • The KS3 National Curriculum largely determines the scope of schools' curriculums in KS3 with exam specifications dictating the content of KS4 and KS5 curriculums.

  • Most schools organise the curriculum through half-termly blocks named after an aspect of the subject e.g. the Middle East.

  • Stronger curriculum thinking involves considering both the NC content and its aims. This helps schools develop a clearer ambition for what is to be studied. In some schools, the aims of each topic are less clearly defined leading to limited ambition.

  • The main limiting factors of secondary geography are curriculum time and the way in which exam specifications dictate KS4 and KS5 curriculums.

  • Fewer hours dedicated to the subject, both in terms of fortnightly hours and the duration of the key stage, often leads to less ambition and a narrower scope.

  • Limited time does not need to lead to limited ambition: some schools counter these limitations by being careful about which content is taught, avoiding any repetition of KS2 material and ensuring that different aspects of the NC are woven into individual topics.

  • Reducing KS4 and KS5 to exam coverage is a weakness in some schools.

  • Some schools could benefit from taking a more synoptic approach to teaching exam content alongside other important aspects of geography. Building the curriculum around the exam specification can be an effective approach.

  • All schools in the sample had high expectations for all pupils, including those with SEND. In almost all schools, mixed attainment classes involved all pupils working towards the same objectives.

Content Selection
  • Most schools have a good balance between different forms of geographical knowledge. Leaders often map out when these different forms are to be taught in each topic.

  • Although most schools base their curriculums around the NC, sometimes aspects are missing; when this is the case, it is more usually related to locations or places specified by the NC e.g. Russia and the Middle East.

  • Where schools teach the concept of 'place' well, pupils are often able to use their locational knowledge to explain features of the places they have studied.

  • In these schools, leaders are aware of the need to avoid teaching a 'single story' about a place; they ensure that pupils understand different aspects of the places they learn about by studying them in different contexts.

  • Where 'place' is less well considered, pupils often have a poor understanding of location. This results in them struggling to understand the processes occurring in different places.

  • Sometimes schools teach about a very large number of different places, often only exploring one aspect of the place. This can lead to teaching 'single stories'.

  • A particular challenge of the KS4 curriculum is selecting places to study: often schools base these decisions on the resources which are available online or in textbooks.

  • Pupils develop a more thorough sense of place when they are taught about them several times in different contexts.

  • Procedural knowledge is rarely chosen or sequenced well. Even when skills are taught discretely, pupils can fail to develop fluency unless they have multiple opportunities to practise across the curriculum.

  • Treating procedural knowledge in the same way as substantive knowledge can be effective in determining how pupils will get better over time.

  • It is rare for GIS to be taught in schools. Most leaders report that time constraints, a lack of access to computers and a lack of training are the main reasons for this.

  • GIS is used more effectively when leaders focus on simple methods to plot data on a map and use different layers of data to reach conclusions.

Geographical Concepts
  • Most concepts discussed by teachers and leaders are those from the substantive content of the NC rather than the macro concepts mentioned in the original research review: the key concepts of space, place, earth systems and environment; and the organising concepts of time, scale, diversity, interconnection and interpretation.

  • These geographical concepts were not featured in curriculum planning by any of the sample schools.

  • Ofsted emphasise that pupils do not need to necessarily know these concepts; however, they argue that the concepts are a helpful way to plan the curriculum and ensure that the study of the topic is geographical in nature.

  • A lack of clarity around the geographical concepts can lead to struggles with the identification of core knowledge which teachers and leaders want pupils to learn.

  • When topics have a clear geographical question at heart, the identification of core knowledge (both substantive and procedural) becomes easier to identify.

  • In some schools, a lack of understanding of these concepts can lead to a curriculum which lacks rigour - especially when 'organising questions' are added to existing topics rather than being used to determine content.

Sequencing
  • The cumulative structure of geography - rather than hierarchical - means there is no common approach to sequencing the curriculum.

  • Most schools layer up knowledge to become more complex over time; this is a relatively new approach in many schools.

  • There is often less thought given to sequencing in KS4 and to a lesser extent in KS5. Often, these decisions are based on exam specifications.

  • Leaders and teachers rarely consider how to build knowledge between topics in KS4; this can result in the KS3 curriculum being more ambitious than the KS4, and the KS4 curriculum failing to prepare pupils for the more synoptic nature of KS5 and higher education.

  • Procedural knowledge and fieldwork is often underdeveloped in leaders' curriculum thinking. There is often a lack of consideration given to the sequencing of teaching knowledge which would allow pupils to carry out more complex fieldwork over time.

Disciplinary Knowledge
  • There is significant variation in how leaders have considered to teach disciplinary knowledge in their curriculums. The strongest practice involves pupils being taught explicitly about how geographical knowledge is created and how geographical understanding has changed over time.

  • Geographical models are a common way to teach disciplinary knowledge. The strongest practice involves teaching not only what these models are but any of their limitations.

  • Models are, however, presented uncritically.

  • Geographical enquiry can be an effective way of developing disciplinary knowledge; however, this is rare. It is effective when pupils are explicitly taught how geographers identify questions, collect, present and analyse data, and then reach and evaluate conclusions.

The Use of Fieldwork
  • Many schools explain their lack of fieldwork to due to the pandemic. It is significant that although some aspects of fieldwork could have continued despite the limitations, in many cases schools have not used opportunities to do so.

  • A lack of fieldwork in the curriculum has existed since before the pandemic.

  • There appears to be far less thinking being done about including fieldwork in the curriculum and what progression in fieldwork looks like.

  • It is more effective practice to include knowledge about fieldwork alongside other aspects of procedural knowledge.

Impact
  • Recent improvements in the curriculum mean that, in some cases, younger pupils are remembering more than older pupils. They are benefiting from a more ambitious or rigorous approach.

  • There is significant variation in the impact of teaching on pupils' locational knowledge. Explicit teaching has supported pupils to develop a secure knowledge of location - they understand what makes a good geographical description.

  • Place knowledge is stronger when pupils can describe a nuanced understanding of place rather than lists of disconnected facts.

  • Good curriculum sequencing supports pupils gaining a deeper understanding of complex issues such as climate change. It is important for pupils to approach curriculum content through different geographical lenses. Revisiting content is helpful in developing a deeper understanding.

  • Teaching pupils about procedural knowledge in the context of different places or geographical processes is an effective way of developing fluency and pupil competency.

Misconceptions
  • Many schools identify potential misconceptions at the planning stage, supporting non-specialists and less-experienced teachers to address them in lessons.

  • Formative assessment is used well to identify and address misconceptions held by pupils.

  • The most frequent misconceptions relate to people and places. This is especially likely when 'single stories' have been presented to pupils. Other common misconceptions include tectonic processes, climate change and weather.

Pedagogy

  • Most teachers have the subject knowledge necessary to teach effectively and with confidence. Strong subject knowledge enables teachers to bring their lessons to life, provide effective explanations and helpful examples and anecdotes.

  • It is common for non-specialists to teach geography, especially in KS3. Sometimes, non-specialists lack the necessary subject knowledge to teach the content effectively.

  • Some leaders provide very effective support for non-specialists, including centrally-planned resources accompanied by detailed notes.

  • There is variation in approaches to lessons but most have common features: starting the lesson with retrieval practice; followed by teacher exposition supported by video, data and texts; followed by a combination of discussion and independent work.

  • Retrieval practice is a common feature of lessons: it is most effective when it is referred to and built upon during lessons.

  • There are some lessons where pupils have insufficient time to apply what they have been taught.

  • The specifications of exams - and the amount of content - have caused some curriculums to be more about coverage than learning.

  • Where lessons are more geographical in character, pupils are given authentic geographical data and taught how to use it to answer questions.

  • It is generally less effective to ask pupils to find out information for themselves. This is, however, rarely seen.

  • Questions are often well-planned and developed.

Assessment and Feedback

  • Formative assessment is mainly used well throughout lessons. Well-planned questions help teachers identify misconceptions and check for understanding. On the contrary, formative assessment is used less effectively when checks for understanding are not made, or when lessons carry on regardless of pupils' incorrect responses.

  • Summative assessments are well designed in most schools. Stronger practice includes using a combination of shorter and longer tasks and questions to check that component knowledge has both been learned and can be applied.

  • If not entirely absent, summative assessment of procedural knowledge, including fieldwork, is often weaker.

  • Weaker assessment practices occur when assessments appear unrelated to what has been taught. e.g. where assessments do not specify in sufficient detail the content pupils are expected to know.

  • Subject-specific feedback is generally given to pupils on how to improve their work. Stronger practice encourages pupils to apply this feedback to future pieces of work.

  • Rapid, whole-class verbal feedback is used effectively to identify and address misconceptions.

  • Less effective feedback includes insufficient feedback, feedback which is too generic, and feedback which does not inform pupils of how to improve their future pieces of work.

  • Feedback from assessments is usually used well, including to identify which material might need to be retaught.

  • Some schools do not use information from assessments effectively. This can be caused by ineffective assessments, but even with high-quality assessments, some schools do not use assessments as feedback to teachers and leaders. This results in less responsive teaching.

Leadership

  • Time given to geography ranges from 1 to 2 hours per week, with most schools having a 3-year KS3.

  • At KS4, most pupils have 3 hours of geography per week, with others ranging from 2.5 to 3.5 hours.

  • At KS5, pupils have 4 to 5 hours a week.

  • No schools in the sample took a cross curricular approach to teaching geography.

  • A well-planned KS3 curriculum might negate the need to teach GCSE content in Year 9.

  • Most lessons are taught by geography specialists but most schools have some teaching taught by non-specialists, especially at KS3.

  • The impact of non-specialist teaching depends on the support provided to them.

  • Most subject leaders have little time available for quality assurance, which is often undertaken by trust leads or senior leaders, usually taking the form of lesson visits and book scrutinies.

  • Most schools are generally well-resourced with the resources teachers need to teach effectively.

  • There is increasing use of digital technology to support teaching, especially for creating quizzes and automating feedback.

  • There are occasional uses of out-of-date resources such as photographs and data. These can distort the accuracy of what is being taught.

  • Most leaders are supportive of pupils having visits outside of school, recognising fieldwork as a key part of the curriculum. They ensure cost and time are not barriers.

  • In a few schools despite leaders thinking positively about fieldwork, school policies and practices can create barriers e.g. pupil participation being limited due to the costs of the trip.

  • The lack of support for, or awareness of the need for, CPD in how to carry out fieldwork acts as the main barrier to improving it.

Professional Development

  • In many schools, teachers are offered little subject-specific CPD although schools in trusts tend to receive more than those outside of trusts.

  • Sometimes, CPD is dominated by exam preparation rather than CPD aimed to improving or updating teachers' subject knowledge.

  • Most teachers would like CPD on planning fieldwork and using GIS. There is a general lack of professional knowledge in these areas.

  • CPD aimed at generic aspects of teaching, such as supporting SEND pupils, is received positively.

  • Membership of subject associations occurs in around a half of schools. It is rare for resources from subject associations and bodies to be used in class.


 




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