Aim: To support local primary schools in the pre-existing Geography and Global Learning network with the understanding, planning, implementation, teaching and resourcing of the 2014 national curriculum. This scheme received funding from the local authority.
Background: As a Secondary Quality Mark Geographical Centre of Excellence, Cardinal Newman was best placed to continue to lead local network meetings and share best practice.
Year 1: All Brighton and Hove primary schools were invited to a free Primary Geography Conference. 36 delegates attended, and were encouraged to bring their ideas, strengths and concerns, ensuring they had ownership of the agenda. Many teachers had subject knowledge concerns, as they had not studied Geography beyond secondary school. In many cases there were also resourcing gaps and a lack of awareness of a national Geography subject community.
Feedback was gathered and key areas of work were identified. At a meeting of local primary Geography leaders, the findings were presented and they were assured that a three-year programme would help to phase in the national curriculum and provide guidance, support and mentoring.
Year 2 : Further network meetings were held and school-to-school support was encouraged through the establishment of cluster groups, which worked on gathering resources and producing engaging lesson plans around different topics (e.g. African countries, rainforest ecosystems, deserts, local area studies) that could be shared at a further Primary Geography Conference in the summer term. Regular CPD sessions shared best practice with a focus on map work and GIS skills; feedback from teachers was excellent with evidence of high-quality student work displayed.
Year 3: This year was about embedding key ideas and continuing to offer guidance and support. Three twilight sessions were held, but these were more challenging due to the increased focus on English and Mathematics in the primary curriculum, as well as reformed Key Stage 2 assessments and the emerging financial strain on schools. A summary newsletter was created to offer support and point primary schools in the direction of the amazing wealth of available resources.
Evidence: Teacher feedback, improved schemes of work.
Impact: The primary schools really valued the small, tight, supportive and subject-focused Geography community that worked through key topics and opportunities such as GIS and fieldwork. They had increased confidence to grapple with subject-specific content, and visits to primary classrooms have shown that exciting, appropriate and challenging Geography is being taught.
Reflections: For Cardinal Newman there were many mutual benefits, including the fact that many of our network primaries were feeder schools that teachers could work with in cross-phase programmes. This gave them a better understanding of the starting points and experiences of our new Year 7 intake, and the opportunity to support primary teachers with the more challenging topics.
We have learnt that collaboration with outside stakeholders is generally easy, and they are often ready, willing and able to give up their time for free. However, communicating with a range of different and busy schools needs persistent energy and drive.
Contact: Maria Larkin, Subject Leader for Geography, firstname.lastname@example.org