HMI: Curriculum Matters

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Geography from 5 to 16

The complete document is presented in this single web page. You can scroll through it or use the following links to go straight to the various sections:

Introduction (page 1)
Early primary (5)
Later primary (10)
Planning for the primary phase (18)
Secondary (21)
Planning and organisation in secondary schools (35)
Progression and continuity (39)
Assessment (42)
Appendix 1 Application of locational questions to a particular activity: the fire service (46)
Appendix 2 Support from external agencies (48)
Appendix 3 Manufacturing industry - an illustration of progression (49)

The text of Geography from 5 to 16 was prepared by Derek Gillard and uploaded on 13 June 2011.

Geography from 5 to 16
HMI Series: Curriculum Matters No. 7

London: Her Majesty's Stationery Office 1986
Crown copyright material is reproduced with the permission of the Controller of HMSO and the Queen's Printer for Scotland.

[title page]

Department of Education and Science

from 5 to 16

Curriculum Matters 7


[page ii]

Crown copyright 1986
First published 1986

ISBN 0 11 270606 1

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Early primary

Later primary

Planning for the primary phase


Planning and organisation in secondary schools

Progression and continuity


Appendix 1
Application of locational questions to a particular activity: the fire service

Appendix 2
Support from external agencies

Appendix 3
Manufacturing industry - an illustration of progression

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This is the seventh in HM Inspectorate's discussion series Curriculum Matters. It sets out a framework within which each school might develop a geography programme appropriate to its own pupils.

The document focuses on the aims and objectives for the teaching of geography between the ages of Sand 16 and considers their implications for the choice of content, for teaching approaches, and for the assessment of pupils' progress.

Like all other papers in this series Geography from 5 to 16 is a discussion document and the Inspectorate would welcome your comments and suggestions on it and the issues it raises.

If you have any comments, please send them to the Staff Inspector (Geography), Department of Education and Science, York Road, London SE1 7PH, by 31st March 1987.

Senior Chief Inspector

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It is essential that this document should be read as a whole, since all sections are interrelated. For example, the lists of objectives must be seen in relation to the defined aims and to what is said about the principles of Geography teaching and assessment.

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1. Geography helps pupils to make sense of their surroundings and to gain a better appreciation and understanding of the variety of physical and human conditions on the earth's surface. It has direct relevance for pupils aged from 5 to 16 because it relates to many aspects of their own lives and of the environment in which they live. This relevance is especially evident when the study of geography focuses on activities in which they personally engage or hope to engage; when it is concerned with their immediate surroundings or areas with which they are familiar; when it enquires into important changes taking place, either locally or elsewhere in the world, which may influence their own lives and which, in time, they may seek to influence as aware and responsible citizens; and when it examines current social, economic, political and environmental issues. The geography undertaken in primary and secondary schools extends pupils' interests and knowledge beyond their immediate experience and helps them to interpret the images and information about people and places which they acquire from television, books, magazines and other sources. While the aims of geography teaching take particular account of the distinct perspectives and methods of enquiry associated with the subject, they also recognise other broad educational goals that can be effectively pursued through the study of geography.

The aims of geographical education

2. Geographical studies over the 5 to 16 age range should help pupils to:

  • develop a strong interest in their own surroundings and in the world as the home of mankind;
  • appreciate the variety of physical and human conditions on the earth's surface;
  • recognise some of the more important geographical patterns and relationships which are revealed in different types of landscape and in different human activities;
  • understand some of the relationships between people and environments;
  • appreciate the importance of geographical location in human affairs and understand how activities and places are linked by

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    movements of people, materials and information and by complex economic, social, political and physical relationships;
  • understand what it means to live in one place rather than another;
  • understand some of the more important physical and human processes which produce geographical pattern and variety and which bring about changes;
  • develop a range of skills and competencies necessary to carry out geographical enquiry and to interpret geographical information;
  • appreciate the significance of people's beliefs, attitudes and values to those relationships and issues which have a geographical dimension;
  • construct a framework of knowledge and understanding about their home area, about their own country and about other parts of the world, which will enable them to place information within appropriate geographical contexts.
3. If geography is to provide an effective means by which pupils attain general educational goals, teachers need to relate the specific contributions of the subject to the overall aims, policies and organisation of a school's curriculum. HMI have recently described a general framework for designing the curriculum (1), based on two main perspectives: areas of learning and experience, which are considered as broad lines of development essential for a rounded education; and elements of learning, which consist of the knowledge, understanding, skills and attitudes to be developed. In addition, it is recognised that there are important cross curricular issues, which need to be given adequate attention within the curriculum. Such a framework facilitates the analysis of the contribution of geography to general educational goals.

4. Nine areas of learning and experience are identified: aesthetic and creative; human and social; linguistic and literary; mathematical; moral; physical; scientific; spiritual; and technological. While geography can make some contribution to all of the areas, it is likely in any particular course to contribute more to some areas than to others. Given the variety of possible emphases, the first task is to analyse and evaluate existing practice within a

(1) The curriculum from 5 to 16. Curriculum Matters 2. HMSO, 1985.

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school, in order to clarify what is being achieved through geography and what more could reasonably be attempted. The most significant contribution is likely to be to the 'human and social area', which is concerned with 'people and how they live, with their relationships with each other and with their environment, and how human action, now and in the past, has influenced events and conditions.' The particular perspectives offered by geography have obvious and direct relevance for these aspects of the curriculum. Consideration of human behaviour within geographical contexts, especially in relation to social, political and environmental issues, can also contribute to pupils' moral education.

5. But geographical education is not confined to the study of human and social behaviour and circumstances. It is also concerned with pupils' understanding of natural environments and of the physical processes which lead to environmental stability or change. It is through geography that pupils are most likely to be introduced to such natural systems of the earth's surface as its landforms, its weather and climate, and its vegetation and soil cover. Pupils must have some understanding of the processes operating within these systems if they are to make sense of the relationships between people and environments. Furthermore, the methods of enquiry and analysis which pupils can use to study geographical relationships and processes, both physical and human, can contribute to their scientific learning. Many of the activities and strategies associated with scientific method are applicable to geographical enquiry. Here there is abundant scope for pupils to make observations; select observations relevant to their investigations for further study; seek and identify patterns and relate these to patterns perceived earlier; suggest and evaluate explanations of the patterns; and use their knowledge to plan and carry out investigations to 'test' suggested explanations for the patterns which have been observed (1). Examples relating to the other areas of learning and experience could be given. But none of these contributions are guaranteed; they need to be planned and their effectiveness evaluated.

6. Many teachers of geography are familiar with the idea of specifying learning objectives in terms of knowledge, understanding, skills and competencies, attitudes and values. This form of categorisation can usefully be applied at the general

(1) Science 5-16: a statement of policy HMSO, 1985.

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level of course planning and evaluation and at the more specific level of designing units of work. An analysis of the importance of concepts and generalisations to the development of geographical understanding, supported by examples of general ideas associated with various systematic themes, is presented in the HMI publication The teaching of ideas in geography (1). In practice, knowledge, understanding, skills and attitudes are closely interrelated and the work on any particular geographical topic may involve all four.

7. A school also needs to identify a limited number of cross curricular issues - themes to which it intends to give some priority, but which it recognises cannot be contained adequately within a single subject or limited part of the curriculum. Examples of such themes to which geography can make a significant contribution are environmental education, political education and education in economic understanding. However, if the contribution from geography is to be effective, it is again necessary for teachers to be explicit about their intentions and to identify what geography can offer and how this relates to the total curriculum of the school. Even more fundamental is the need to ensure that geographical learning offers equal interests and opportunities to girls and boys and that it prepares them adequately for adult membership of a multiethnic and multicultural society. While these are principles which should permeate a curriculum, geography provides especially good opportunities to help pupils appreciate and understand the composition of different societies, including our own, and the various ways in which different communities contribute to human endeavour and achievement. As the content of geography focuses on people and places, teachers have a particular responsibility to ensure that they avoid bias and stereotyping in the images which they present and in the ideas and explanations which they offer.

8. The remainder of this paper sets out for discussion appropriate objectives for the teaching of geography in different stages of the compulsory period of education and guidelines for the preparation of courses. The selection of goals and of strategies for achieving them necessarily involves judgements and both the goals and the strategies are properly matters for debate and professional decision.

(1) Matters for Discussion No. 5. HMSO, 1978.

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Early primary

9. During the early years of the primary phase much of the curriculum is more likely to be organised around activities and topics than in the form of subjects. At this stage the most appropriate learning is through first-hand experience and observation and, although geography is not likely to be identified as a separate element of the timetable, a great deal of learning may serve to increase pupils' environmental awareness and understanding, thereby providing a foundation for later studies which can profitably draw more directly on the subject.


10. The curriculum for the early years should provide pupils with learning experiences of a geographical nature that will enable them to:

  • extend their awareness of, and develop their interest in, their surroundings;
  • observe accurately and develop simple skills of enquiry;
  • identify and explore features of the local environment;
  • distinguish between the variety of ways in which land is used and the variety of purposes for which buildings are constructed;
  • recognise and investigate changes taking place in the local area;
  • relate different types of human activity to specific places within the area;
  • develop concepts which enable them to recognise the relative position and spatial attributes of features within their environment;
  • understand some of the ways in which the local environment affects people's lives;
  • develop an awareness of seasonal changes of weather and of the effects which weather conditions have on the growth of plants, on the lives of animals and on their own and other people's activities;
  • gain some understanding of the different contributions which a variety of individuals and services make to the life of the local community;

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  • begin to develop an interest in people and places beyond their immediate experience;
  • develop an awareness of cultural and ethnic diversity within our society, while recognising the similarity of activities, interests and aspirations of different people;
  • extend and refine their vocabulary and develop language skills;
  • develop mathematical concepts and number skills;
  • develop their competence to communicate in a variety of forms, including pictures, drawings, simple diagrams and maps.
Many of these objectives are closely interrelated. They involve the acquisition of knowledge, the development of skills, understanding and attitudes and the capacity to react to the environment. Basing much of the learning on first-hand experience focuses attention on the opportunities available in the local area, and the gains to be derived from exploring the world outside the classroom. But much can also be accomplished in the classroom with the use of appropriate learning resources and activities.

11. A great deal of investigation can be carried out within the buildings and grounds of a school. The latter is often an under-used resource, although it usually contains different surfaces and plants and a range of habitats for small creatures. Beyond the school there are often interesting sites to explore: a street, a country lane, a park, a wood, a farm, a shopping centre, a stream, a pond, a railway station. All schools have some places of potential interest which are accessible to them. Some may be places where pupils can observe, and even participate in, activities which are beyond their usual experience; places where they may learn from listening and talking to adults other than their teachers. Such experiences are often enjoyed by pupils and can provide rich stimuli for further learning. Visits are likely to be most successful when the teacher has prepared carefully and thought about possible follow-up activities, and is ready to take advantage of interests and events as the opportunities arise. A teacher should be both a planner and an opportunist.

12. As the urban environment is especially complex, the teacher of young pupils needs to select small, compact areas for study. Pupils can examine the buildings along a street to discover the uses made of them and some of their architectural features.

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Pupils can learn to recognise different types of homes and different types of shops, and, if taken into appropriate buildings, they can gain an impression of the nature of an office, a bank, a factory, a church, or a hotel. Such experiences can be related to simple accounts of the types of activity which are carried out in these specialist buildings. In contrast, an open space in a town may offer scope for pupils to investigate the plants and small creatures to be found there and the reasons why that space has not been built upon. They may consider whether it could be improved or put to better use, or should remain as it is.

13. Many children who live in or near the country are taken on a farm visit. Again, careful planning and preparation are necessary. Pupils can learn to identify the animals, crops, machinery and products. They will be interested in the regular activities of the farmer, especially those concerned with animals. They can find out what the animals are fed on and how they are looked after. Supported by further work in the classroom, perhaps using toy models, pictorial maps and stories, pupils can be introduced to the general concept of a farm as a specific area - with fields, hedges, buildings and tracks - within which a farmer grows crops and keeps animals to obtain useful products.

14. One element of the physical environment which is always present, yet variable in nature, is the weather. Young pupils are likely to be interested in the weather because it affects them directly, not least on their journeys to and from school and during breaks between lessons. They are quite capable of observing weather conditions and at a fairly early age can learn to use simple equipment to measure temperature, rainfall and wind speed. Simple weather charts and other forms of record can be used to compare conditions observed on separate weeks in different seasons. The occurrence of severe conditions, such as heavy snowfall, a deep frost, a thunderstorm or a prolonged dry period may justify special attention, for pupils' interest will already have been stimulated by the unusual event and some of its consequences may be very evident. Pupils delight in the presence of snow, but they will also be interested in how it has disrupted transport and how it has affected work on the farm.

15. Children are more likely to be interested in adult occupations when they can see adults at work, look at the machines and equipment that they use, talk with them about what they do and

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listen to what they have to tell. When pupils cannot visit the place of work, adults may be able to visit the school, perhaps bringing interesting artefacts with them.

16. Pupils' interest in other places and other people can be stimulated by visits which they have made, for example on holidays, and by what they see on television or in books. Teachers can help them to draw upon that experience and can attempt to stimulate new interests. Once their interest has been aroused, pupils can be encouraged and helped to find out more about the lives of people living in different places. Such studies are more likely to be successful when pupils have access to appropriate artefacts, photographs and stories which engage their imaginations.

17. A variety of teaching strategies, including where possible visits and the contributions of visitors, are required to help young pupils develop an awareness and better understanding of the cultural and ethnic diversity within our society. While pupils' direct experience will vary greatly from one part of the country to another and from one neighbourhood to another, it is essential that all schools, as part of their normal practice, take deliberate steps to reveal the rich and diverse contributions that individuals and groups from different cultural and ethnic backgrounds bring to life in Britain.

18. During the early years of education pupils can be helped to acquire important ideas about spatial relationships and they can be introduced to the use of maps. The physical layout and distribution of activities in a classroom, the patterns of movement about the school, movements in games and play with models and with damp sand can provide opportunities for teachers to introduce concepts of relative position, spacing, distance, direction, size, shape and distribution, so that pupils become more confident in identifying and describing simple spatial patterns and relationships. Some computer games can help pupils to develop spatial concepts. Teachers should ensure, through careful monitoring and sensitive intervention, that both sexes benefit from participation in appropriate activities (1).

19. Pupils' introduction to, and progressive development of, skills in drawing, reading and interpreting maps can be facilitated

(1) See Matthews, M. H. Cognitive mapping abilities of young boys and girls. Geography Vol. 69, Part 3, October 1984.

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by a carefully planned approach operating throughout a school. Initial experiences in the transformation of three-dimensional forms into two dimensions can be provided by teachers taking advantage of pupils' play with toy models, for example by drawing their attention to the layout as seen from directly above and showing how that layout can be depicted on a sheet of paper of the same size. A model-like view of the landscape can sometimes be obtained from a high viewpoint such as a steepsided hill or a tall building. A large-scale oblique aerial photograph of the local area can be especially valuable, enabling pupils to identify and locate features with which they are already familiar. Some story books for children are illustrated with delightful picture maps of imaginary landscapes which are brought to life by the text. Pupils' own map making can progress from freehand maps of small areas which they can see in their entirety - such as the top of a desk or table, a room or a playground - to those which they can only envisage from different views, such as places along a route. Although few precise measurements may be involved, pupils can be encouraged to give increasing attention to the relative size and position of the features which they depict on maps. Games can be used as a means of introducing street maps and teaching pupils to follow simple routes. Older pupils in this age range can derive great pleasure from making their own maps to portray places or journeys described in stories or created in their own imaginations.

20. The experience which pupils gain from active enquiry, both within the classroom and also within a broader and richer environment than the classroom alone can provide, can support the development of language and mathematical understanding. Pupils' experiences and activities, making use of all their senses, should stimulate purposeful talking, writing, measuring and recording. Environmental experiences can also stimulate and enrich pupils' imaginative writing. New experiences and new ideas will require new vocabulary. The study of weather conditions, for example, may require an extension of pupils' vocabulary to enable them to describe the feel of the air, the strength of the wind, the form of the clouds and the occurrence of such phenomena as dew, frost and fog. An emerging sense of relative position is dependent on pupils' understanding such words as near and far, left and right, up and down, front and back, close together and spread out, inside and outside. A wider vocabulary will help pupils to distinguish between objects or activities which are consistently similar in some respects but

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different in others and will thereby pave the way to the use of classifications. It will help them to recognise different types of buildings, plants, animals, vehicles, work and leisure activities. But it is not just a matter of acquiring new vocabulary. Language plays a fundamental role in helping pupils to understand because it is the prime means by which they formulate and reflect on new ideas, relate them to previous experience, discuss them with others and apply them to new situations. It is through language that we manipulate new ideas, give them shape and texture and, by so doing, create personal meaning. Language has a vital role in extending and intensifying pupils' environmental and spatial awareness.

21. Language has another important contribution to make to the development of geographical awareness in young pupils, in that good stories, with distinct settings, can stimulate an interest in environments which are very different from their own. Such stories, especially when accompanied by suitable drawings or photographs, can provide children with powerful images of particular places and some sense of what it is like to live there. They can be a means of introducing children to cultures which are different from their own and of encouraging an understanding and respect for other people's beliefs, aspirations and styles of living.

22. Some examples have already been given of ways in which young pupils' guided exploration of their environment can contribute to their development of mathematical understanding and skills. There are abundant opportunities in such work for pupils to engage in the discrimination, classification and sorting of objects and events; in the use of numbers in counting, describing and estimating; and in the use of measurements of various kinds.

Later primary

23. During the later years of the primary phase most pupils undertake studies which include elements that are more clearly recognisable as geographical. In some schools the subject is allocated a specified amount of time each week; in others it forms part of a wider area of the curriculum, which may be

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variously labelled 'environmental studies', 'social studies', 'projects', or 'topic work'. The emphasis given to such work, the content which is included and the teaching strategies which are employed vary greatly. In most primary schools responsibility for planning and teaching this part of the curriculum rests with the class teachers, many of whom have received limited specialist guidance on how to teach geography. HMI surveys and inspections have indicated that, while some geographical work of very high quality is produced, in general primary schools need to improve their planning of this part of the curriculum to achieve higher standards of understanding and skills and better progression in pupils' learning. A clearer identification of the goals for geography teaching in primary schools should assist this process.


24. The curriculum for the later primary years should enable pupils to:

  • investigate at first-hand features of their local environment: its weather; its surface features; and some of the activities of its inhabitants, especially those aspects that involve spatial and environmental relationships;
  • study some aspects of life and conditions in a number of other small areas in Britain and abroad, which provide comparisons with their own locality. From such studies pupils should gain knowledge and understanding of some of the ways in which people have used, modified and cared for their surroundings, and of the influence of environmental conditions, culture and technology on the activities and ways of life of the present inhabitants;
  • develop an appreciation of the many life styles in Britain and abroad, which reflect a variety of cultures, and develop positive attitudes towards different communities and societies, counteracting racial and cultural stereotyping and prejudice;
  • have some understanding of changes taking place in their own locality and in other areas studied, including some appreciation of the ways in which human decisions influence these changes;
  • gain some appreciation of the importance of location in human affairs and some understanding of such concepts as distance,

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    direction, spatial distribution and spatial links (especially the movements of people and goods between places), having applied these ideas in appropriate contexts;
  • become acquainted with a variety of maps, including large scale maps of their own neighbourhood, and be able to apply simple techniques of map reading and interpretation;
  • acquire familiarity with globes and with atlas maps and be able to identify such features as the continents and oceans, countries, cities, highland and lowland, coasts and rivers;
  • acquire skills in:
    a. carrying out observations and in collecting, organising, recording and retrieving information as part of an enquiry;
    b. using a variety of sources of information about their own locality and other places;
    c. communicating their findings and ideas, with varying degrees of precision, in writing, pictures, models, diagrams and maps;
  • continue to develop language and mathematical skills through studies in geography;
  • appreciate the significance of people's attitudes and values in the context of particular environmental or social issues which they have investigated.
25. Again, many of the objectives are closely interrelated and a specific activity is likely to involve several. Most of these objectives are natural extensions of the experience and learning suggested for the earlier years of the primary phase. Older pupils will not only acquire more specific knowledge but will be more capable of generalising from their experience. They should be able to engage in more sustained and more systematic enquiry and should achieve greater depth of understanding. They should be encouraged to seek explanations at a level appropriate to their intellectual maturity.

26. It is not surprising that much of the best geographical work undertaken in the later years of the primary phase is concerned with the local area. For pupils of this age, the locality of their home and school usually remains the most important source of direct environmental experience and the place in which observations and investigations can be most

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easily carried out. What exactly is selected for study must depend on the opportunities available - the nature of the area, the events which occur and the changes which are taking place - and this will vary between one school and another and from time to time. By the age of 11 most pupils should be able to identify conspicuous landscape and cultural features in their locality, have some understanding of the nature of the settlement in which they live and the ways in which the land is used, be aware of changes which are taking place and have some appreciation of the ways in which the activities of people, especially themselves and their families, are influenced by the character of their home area and its location.

27. The local environment will also provide opportunities for simple investigations of physical features and processes. There will always be the weather and its effects to observe; but there may also be various types of rock and soil to examine; a small stream to investigate for evidence of erosion and deposition; or a small habitat, such as a patch of woodland, heathland or 'unimproved' grassland, within which seasonal changes of plant and animal life can be monitored. From such studies pupils can begin to develop an understanding of environmental relationships. Pupils with good knowledge of their own surroundings, both physical and human, have a firm basis for making comparisons with other places.

28. The study of unfamiliar places deserves greater attention than it is often given. Pupils should begin to explore similarities and differences between their local area and more distant places, including places in the economically less developed parts of the world. One of the challenges for teachers preparing such work is to provide pupils with information and experience that is rich enough to capture their imagination and to enable them to appreciate conditions which are different from those with which they are familiar. The choice of places may be properly influenced by visits which pupils have made, by the personal experience and knowledge of teachers and by the availability of suitable learning materials. A television programme or film may help to provide effective visual images. There is much to be gained by focusing on comparatively small areas and exploring these in some depth: a farm and its nearest market town rather than a large agricultural area; a specific valley in a highland region rather than the region in its entirety; a short section of coastline rather than coasts in general; a district within a city rather than

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the city in all its complexity. It is a principle which could be applied with advantage to studies of places within other countries as well as of places within the United Kingdom. The following questions might help to guide a teacher preparing such a study.

  • Where is this place?
  • What does the place look like? What are the main features of the landscape - physical and cultural?
  • Do many or few people live there and why?
  • What is it like to live there?
  • In what ways are people's activities and ways of life influenced by the character of the place and its location?
  • How have people made use of or modified the environment?
  • Do many people visit the place and for what purposes?
  • What important links does it have with other places?
  • In what ways is this place similar to, or different from, our own home area?
  • What are the reasons for the main similarities and differences?
  • Is the place changing in character and, if so, why?
  • What do we feel about the place? What do we find attractive or unattractive about it?
  • Do we think that the changes taking place are an improvement or not?
  • What are the views of the people who live there?
Emphases on particular aspects or issues will lead to the identification of other critical questions. The list is intended neither to be exhaustive nor to indicate a sequence of study. Very often it will be appropriate to start with some event, activity or issue which has a strong human interest and to retain a focus on the activities and lives of people. However, many pupils of this age also have a strong interest in animal life, and descriptions of animals and their behaviour figure prominently in project work. Their understanding of wildlife is strengthened when suitable attention is given to geographical distributions and to the ecological conditions within which particular animals and plants flourish. Attention can also be given to the human activities which threaten or enhance the survival of some species.

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29. Pupils may already have images of people and places which are in some respects inaccurate. One of the advantages of undertaking geographical studies of small areas in some depth is that they can provide a means to counter misconceptions, stereotyping and prejudice, but teachers need to think carefully about their own assumptions, especially with regard to other cultures and ethnic groups, and to be sensitive about the messages which they convey, either directly or through the resource materials which they use. Geography can make a distinctive contribution to the education of pupils for life in multiethnic Britain, through studies which involve sensitive and positive treatment of different communities in different places.

30. When investigating human activities in their local area and in other places, pupils can develop a fuller understanding of the importance of location and spatial relationships. They can be helped to elaborate and refine some of the concepts which they acquired earlier, such as distance, direction and distribution, and to add other ideas such as area, network, flow, gradient, scale and best location. The more difficult ideas will be accessible to some pupils only when presented in very simple forms which the pupils can relate easily to their direct experience. Nevertheless, by the end of their primary education many pupils can have some understanding of the interdependence of people living in different places, and of activities and events which take place in different locations, at least in relation to examples which they have studied, while some pupils can begin to appreciate the wider application of the ideas. Again, teachers may find it useful to bear in mind the sort of locational questions which may be applied to many human activities in various places.

  • Where is it located?
  • Why has it been located there?
  • How is the activity distributed?
  • What has produced this distribution pattern?
  • What are the consequences of this location or distribution pattern?
  • What movements occur between these particular places?
  • What are the routes linking these places?
  • What is the shortest route? Which is the best route and why?

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  • How may the relationships between these places change? What effects will this have?
The object of study may be the school or a shopping centre, a farm or a factory, a port or a holiday resort. The application of such questions to a particular activity is illustrated in Appendix 1.

31. The development of spatial understanding should go hand in hand with the development of map skills. Maps are not only a source of pleasure, which exert a fascination for young and old, but are of great practical value. They enable us to find out where places are and how to get from one place to another and they can help us to make decisions about where to engage in particular activities. As an aid to geographical study, they can describe the characteristics of an area, reveal spatial patterns and suggest possible relationships which merit investigation. They can therefore be used as sources of information, as tools of analysis and as a means of displaying information for communication to others. Pupils can be introduced gradually to the ways in which maps can be used for different purposes. The progression from early steps of map drawing and map reading to the use of plans and large scale maps, and eventually the use of smaller scale atlas maps should also be a gradual process during which particular skills are developed: using symbols and colours explained by a key; selecting routes from a map and using a map to make a journey; describing locations with the use of simple grids; measuring distances and areas; giving and following directions. Activities which allow for the acquisition and practice of such skills should, whenever possible, be introduced in contexts in which pupils can appreciate their relevance rather than in a series of repetitive exercises isolated from other learning. Imaginatively handled, this can be an exciting and satisfying learning experience. Older pupils should also become familiar with the world globe so that they can, for example, identify the shape and position of the continents and oceans while gaining a more accurate three-dimensional view of the world.

32. Whilst map skills are usually an expected outcome of geographical studies, a wide range of more general study skills and investigatory skills can also be developed through activities associated with geographical enquiry.

Prominent among these are the ability to:

  • formulate appropriate questions;

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  • plan and organise a project or investigation;
  • carry out accurate observations 'in the field';
  • collect, describe and classify relevant objects;
  • devise and carry out simple experiments;
  • prepare and use a questionnaire;
  • locate and extract information from a variety of sources;
  • measure and quantify as part of the process of gathering and organising information;
  • record information in appropriate ways;
  • draw inferences from evidence, distinguishing clearly between facts and inferences;
  • draft and edit materials being prepared for presentation;
  • organise and present findings in a clear and attractive manner suited to the audience in mind; and
  • evaluate the success or otherwise of the enquiry.
33. All of these activities can be initiated in the primary phase of education and taken further when pupils are older. Many of them provide opportunities for the application of mathematical skills and for the development of language. The latter may, for example, be stimulated by activities which require pupils to listen to a radio programme, obtain information from books, record their own observations and findings and communicate their ideas to others. Investigations, both within and outside classrooms, can continue to be a major stimulus for talking and writing.

34. Increasingly, there should be opportunities for pupils to retrieve information from available computer data systems and from systems for which they have collected and organised the information. The use of computers and word processors in geographical studies can help to increase pupils' awareness of information technology and provide them with some initial skills in this field.

35. Experiences from and in the environment can be a powerful stimulus for pupils' imagination and creative expression, giving a fresh quality to their language and drawings. Observations and reflections on a bright frosty morning can lead to poetry as

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well as prose, pictures as well as geographical writing.

36. When pupils work together in a group, whether on a topic or during an investigation or when participating in a geographical game or simulation, they can be helped to develop social skills. The ability to share ideas, to co-operate on a task and to engage in the give and take which is necessary for a successful group activity is more than an intellectual skill for it is dependent on pupils learning to relate to one another in a sympathetic and constructive manner. Group activities can provide opportunities for a pupil to gain experience in taking responsibilities as a member of a team and occasionally as a leader.

37. When pupils examine an issue affecting their local area or study conditions in other places, they will usually have attitudes which influence their interpretation and response. It is an aspect of the curriculum which requires sensitive treatment by teachers, for environmental and social problems are characteristically complex and the views of pupils usually reflect opinions expressed by their parents or other adults whom they know well. Nevertheless, it is often possible for pupils to investigate a local issue, perhaps some development which is taking place or has been proposed, in a way which can lead to a fuller understanding of what is happening or intended and a better appreciation of other people's attitudes and the dilemmas which have to be resolved by decision makers. In the light of such experience, pupils may be helped to reflect upon their own attitudes and values. A similar opportunity may exist when studying distant places, with the difference that the lack of personal involvement may enable pupils to approach such a problem of conflicting attitudes with a more open mind. On the other hand, the development of the capacity to imagine accurately what it is like to be someone else in a particular situation may depend on pupils being able to relate the conditions and situations which they are studying to experiences of their own.

Planning for the primary phase

38. Geography should figure in a pupil's curriculum in each year and on a scale adequate to meet the challenge of the objectives which have been set. It has already been noted that

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geographical elements can be incorporated into the curriculum of young pupils in a variety of ways. While some primary schools make specific timetable provision for the subject, in many others geography is planned as part of a broader programme of topics and activities, in association with other subjects such as history and science. Within such a scheme, individual topics and activities may have a strong subject orientation. Thus the study of a coastal resort which focuses on the present character of the place and the ways in which the holiday trade exploits the resort's site and surrounding area would have a distinct geographical emphasis. The same resort could also be examined from a historical viewpoint, which may help pupils to appreciate better some of its present features. An investigation of weather conditions at different sites within the school grounds may involve geography, science and mathematics. Some 'projects' which are not linked intentionally to any specific subject may give pupils considerable freedom in the choice of content area to explore, but these should be complementary to, rather than substitutes for, more tightly planned elements of the programme.

39. Whatever the framework adopted, it is essential that teachers have a clear overview of this part of the programme and carefully monitor pupils' learning in order to ensure that important education goals are attended to; that there is appropriate balance in content (eg as between the local area and other places) and learning activities (eg as between book-based and more practical activities); and that the course facilitates progression in learning. Flexibility is necessary to enable teachers to take advantage of educational opportunities as they arise and to adapt work to meet the needs of their pupils. A general plan which outlines the geographical experiences which the school intends to provide from year to year, combined with an adequate record of what each pupil tackles and achieves, should help teachers to select topics which will provide variety of interest and to set tasks which will enable pupils to build on their previous learning. General activities such as mapwork and broad themes such as weather, farming and settlements present such scope for the extension of learning that they can be returned to at different stages in a course, without involving unnecessary repetition. Progression in the learning of geography is achieved through the gradual development of skills and conceptual understanding rather than through any particular sequence of specific content. A framework which is built mainly around the

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development of skills and ideas can give flexibility to the choice of topics and to the order in which they are tackled.

40. The preparation of the general plan for geography throughout a school is an important task. While a school will wish to make good use of any teacher who has an interest and expertise in the subject, and such a teacher may be given special responsibility to take the lead in the development of geography in the curriculum, there are considerable advantages in involving all staff in the discussion and preparation. It is those who plan the strategy and design the scheme who will gain most. The very process of planning as a team is a valuable form of staff development.

41. Once agreement has been reached on the general approach to be adopted within a school, it is important to prepare a teaching syllabus which will serve as a working document, providing guidance for individual teachers and a basis for further curriculum development. A teaching syllabus should include:

  • the aims and objectives of the geographical dimension of the curriculum and the strategies to be used to implement them;
  • a framework which will provide some structure to the geographical experiences which are planned, together with more specific guidelines for particular topics and activities;
  • guidance on the selection of places to be studied, including the relative emphasis to be given to the local area;
  • an indication of the links between the geographical and other components of the curriculum;
  • suggestions about appropriate methods and resources;
  • the progression in learning which is anticipated and the ways in which pupils' progress will be assessed and recorded.
While such a syllabus should help teachers to co-ordinate their work and strengthen the cohesion and continuity of their schemes, it should also be used to stimulate thinking and discussion. In addition, it can be of value in liaison between schools, especially in efforts to improve the continuity of learning between the primary and secondary phases. A school which is concerned to strengthen the contribution of geography to its curriculum can often obtain useful support from external agencies, such as LEA advisers, the Geographical Association and institutions engaged in teacher training (Appendix 2).

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Support of a different kind may be given by textbooks written for primary schools, and by radio and television programmes, but teaching is more likely to be imaginative and responsive to learning opportunities when these aids are carefully evaluated and used selectively rather than relied upon to provide a ready made scheme of work. Most primary schools will wish to use a variety of resources, of which the most important should be their own environment.


42. Nearly all pupils between the ages of 11 and 14 study geography in some form or other. While in the majority of schools the geographical component of the curriculum is timetabled as a separate subject, in a substantial number it is organised as an element within a combined studies course, usually in association with history. This arrangement is more common in the first year of secondary schools and much less so in later years. Geography is usually an optional subject in years four and five, where, on average, it is taken by about half the pupils, thus making it one of the most popular of the optional subjects. However, the proportion of pupils who continue with geography to the age of 16 varies greatly from one school to another, influenced especially by such factors as the quality of teaching throughout the school and by the opportunities and constraints created by the structure of particular option systems.

43. There is also much variety between schools in the content of geographical work and the ways in which it is tackled. Although popular textbook series and professional activities, such as in-service training, help to provide some unifying influences, many different kinds of programme can be identified. Courses range from those which give prominence to the study of places to those which organise content within a framework of systematic themes; from those which are devoted almost exclusively to human aspects of geography to those which also place an emphasis on physical features (usually landforms, weather and climate); from those which expect pupils to be mainly receivers and recorders of information to those which engage them in more stimulating activities. Such variety of approach is also much in evidence in years four and five, where teaching tends to be dominated by the perceived requirements

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of external examinations. But there have been some notable changes during the last ten years or so, associated particularly, but not solely, with the schemes based on the two Schools Council geography curriculum projects; the 'Avery Hill Project' (Geography for the Young School Leaver) and the 'Geography 14-18 Project' (1). These and other schemes have encouraged teachers to give more attention to their pupils' understanding of geographical ideas; their acquisition of a range of techniques and skills, including those associated with fieldwork; and their awareness and understanding of social, political and environmental issues which have a geographical dimension. These trends have been supported by the national criteria for examining geography at 16 plus.


44. The geographical component of the 11 to 16 curriculum should help pupils to:

  • develop further their understanding of their surroundings and extend their interest in, and knowledge and understanding of, other places;
  • gain a perspective within which they can place local, national and international events;
  • learn about the variety of physical and human conditions on the earth's surface; the different ways in which people have reacted to, modified and shaped environments; and the influence of environmental conditions (physical and human) on social, political and economic activities;
  • appreciate more fully the significance in human affairs of the location of places and of the links between places, and develop understanding of the spatial organisation of human activities;
  • gain understanding of the processes which have produced pattern and variety on the earth's surface and which bring about change;
  • develop a sensitive awareness of the contrasting opportunities and constraints facing different peoples living in different places under different economic, social, political and physical conditions;
(1) Details of these projects are available from the School Curriculum Development Committee, Newcombe House, 45 Notting Hill Gate, London W11 3JB.

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  • develop an understanding of the nature of multicultural and multiethnic societies and a sensitivity to cultural and racial prejudice and injustice;
  • gain a fuller understanding of some controversial social, economic, political and environmental issues which have a geographical dimension, reflect on their own and other people's attitudes to these issues, and make their own informed judgements;
  • develop a wide range of skills and competencies that are required for geographical enquiry and are widely applicable in other contexts;
  • act more effectively in their environment as individuals and as members of society.
These broad objectives are envisaged as providing general direction for geography teaching over the whole 11 to 16 phase of education. As they are open-ended goals, which can support different levels of achievement, they are applicable both to courses designed for the earlier secondary years and to those designed for older pupils. How far pupils progress in terms of particular objectives will depend to a large extent on their abilities and intellectual maturity. Those pupils who continue to study geography to the age of 16 should gain a greater breadth of knowledge, much deeper understanding and a fuller development of skills and appreciations. Given their greater intellectual maturity at this age, they are capable of making progress significantly beyond that which it is reasonable to expect at the age of 14 (see the section 'Progression and continuity', paragraphs 83 to 88). The objectives are discussed more fully below.

Objective 1: to help pupils to develop further their understanding of their surroundings and extend their interest in, and knowledge and understanding of, other places.

45. The local area should figure fairly prominently in geography courses in secondary schools, not least because it is the pupils' immediate environment and therefore of direct interest and concern to them, as well as a ready source of direct experience on which to base new understanding and through which to introduce specific techniques of enquiry. Pupils should carry out investigations outside the school and, as a result of fieldwork and related classroom enquiries, be able to recognise the characteristic features of the area (eg relief, weather, land

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use, forms of settlement, nature of industry and services, movement patterns); understand some of the important relationships within the locality and with other areas; and appreciate any important changes taking place. Older pupils should be given the opportunity to undertake personally researched, individual studies.

46. Over the period of the course there should be a gradual widening of content to include more places, representing different features, and more topics, within a scheme which is at the same time carefully structured to achieve a deepening of pupils' understanding. Pupils should be helped to develop a global rather than a parochial view of their environment, recognising how their own lives influence and are influenced by conditions and events in other parts of the world. They should be helped to develop a sense of place and a sensitivity towards those characteristics which make particular places and areas important to the people who live there.

Objective 2: to help pupils to gain a perspective within which they can place local, national and international events.

47. Such a perspective must be based on specific locational knowledge, especially where places are, and on the understanding of geographical patterns and processes. Locational knowledge should include the ability to locate and name, on a map of the world, the continents, oceans and many countries; and on a map of the UK, the local area, major regions and cities. But such knowledge must be linked to other learning if pupils are to appreciate the significance of geographical locations and distribution patterns. The greater breadth and depth of knowledge acquired by older pupils should provide a richer perspective, with more potential points of reference and stronger conceptual frameworks. Pupils should gradually become familiar with geographical distribution patterns and the processes underlying them, at a variety of spatial scales.

Objective 3: to help pupils to learn about the variety of physical and human conditions on the earth's surface; the different ways in which people have reacted to, modified and shaped environments; and the influence of environmental conditions (physical and human) on social, political and economic activities.

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48. Places selected for study should illustrate:

i. contrasting natural environments;
ii. different forms of land use and settlement, including sparsely populated areas and densely populated urban-industrial areas;
iii. contrasting political and economic systems, including places from both capitalist and communist countries and places exhibiting different levels of economic development.

Appropriate attention should be given to physical features and processes, especially those which can be investigated directly by pupils: eg weather and climate; river systems and associated landforms; and coastal landforms and processes. But pupils should also be helped to understand how the great natural systems of the world - the oceans, the atmosphere, the fresh water drainage systems, the ecosystems - provide essential support for human existence.

49. The relationships and interactions between people and environments should be a persistent theme in any geography course and should be undertaken at a variety of spatial scales. Older pupils should be able to appreciate more complex relationships and should develop a deeper understanding of environmental processes, both physical and human; the nature of changing environmental conditions and relationships; and the significance to these of natural events, of people's beliefs and values, of technology and of economic and political systems. Pupils should develop some understanding of such basic concepts as environment, resource, land use and settlement, whilst abler pupils should extend and refine these, and develop a reasonable appreciation of more difficult ideas such as conservation, environmental perception and environmental management.

Objective 4: to help pupils to appreciate more fully the significance in human affairs of the location of places and of the links between places, and to develop understanding of the spatial organisation of human activities.

50. This also should be a persistent theme in any geography course and should be applied to a wide range of human activities that operate at a variety of geographical scales. Pupils should be able to apply their understanding of location and related spatial concepts to such themes as population patterns, settlement patterns, the internal characteristics of towns, the exploitation of natural resources (eg extractive industries), farming,

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manufacturing industry, communications (to include transport and trade) and other tertiary activities (eg business activities, retailing, leisure activities). Abler pupils can gain a fuller appreciation of the spatial relationships between such patterns and activities and a deeper understanding of changes in the location of activities, in distribution patterns and in the spatial structure of the environment.

51. Most pupils are capable of developing some understanding of such basic concepts as site, location, distribution, distance, direction, node, link, network and spatial interaction, whilst many can begin to grasp more difficult ideas such as accessibility, distance decay, formal and functional regions, and spatial organisation. Pupils should gain an appreciation of the interdependence of different parts of the world.

Objective 5: to help pupils to gain understanding of the processes which have produced pattern and variety on the earth's surface and which bring about change.

52. The study of physical and human processes is essential if pupils are to understand why places differ in the ways that they do, why particular human activities produce spatial patterns, and how environmental and spatial relationships change over time. For example, if pupils are to understand why some rivers are prone to flooding they must learn about the processes involved in the hydrology of river basins and the physical conditions and human activities which influence those processes. If they are to understand the nature of spatial interdependence they must study the economic, political and social processes and relationships associated with movements of people, goods, money and information between places.

53. The processes of interest to geographical enquiry operate at different scales, ranging from the immediate environment of an individual to regional, national, international and global scales. They also operate over different time scales. Pupils should become increasingly aware of the significance of individual and group decision-making as a fundamental aspect of the processes operating in human activities.

54. It is especially in the study of processes that geographers draw upon ideas from other disciplines - from the natural sciences, the social sciences and the humanities - to inform their own perspectives. Older pupils can develop a deeper

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understanding of processes through the acquisition of a wider range of ideas, including more difficult concepts, and a capacity to appreciate more complex relationships.

Objective 6: to help pupils to develop a sensitive awareness of the contrasting opportunities and constraints facing different peoples living in different places under different economic, social, political and physical conditions.

55. Pupils need to be aware of different styles of life, and of the opportunities and difficulties presented by different environments and different locations. They should, for example, appreciate the contrasts in living conditions offered by rural and urban environments; accessible and inaccessible locations; rich and poor nations. Care must be taken, however, to avoid stereotyping and the acquisition of distorted images. This theme is especially appropriate for the education of older pupils, who are likely to have a strong interest in such contrasts and to be more capable of analysing and evaluating complex situations. Examples should be studied from a range of spatial scales: such as the opportunities available to individuals at different stages of the life cycle (eg infant, student, employed adult, adult caring for children, retired adult); contrasts between neighbourhoods within a city; distribution of employment opportunities within a region or country; contrasts between nations having different economic and political systems and displaying varying levels of, and approaches to, development.

Objective 7: to help pupils to develop an understanding of the nature of multicultural and multiethnic societies and a sensitivity to cultural and racial prejudice and injustice.

56. Geographical studies should be designed to enable pupils to develop a better understanding of the nature of the cultural and ethnic diversity within their own and other societies. Pupils can learn about the various reasons why people migrate from one country to another and from one region to another, and they can be helped to appreciate the contributions which different communities can make to the social and economic life of a country, the links that exist between communities, and the severe problems which many minority groups and some majority groups face.

57. Several of the themes and topics commonly studied within geography, such as economic development, human migration,

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and the character of towns, provide suitable opportunities to give explicit attention to cultural diversity and multiracial issues, but the latter must be treated with care. Geographical education should aim to counteract the ignorance and stereotyping upon which racial prejudice and injustice feed.

Objective 8: to help pupils to gain a fuller understanding of some controversial social, economic, political and environmental issues which have a geographical dimension, reflect on their own and other people's attitudes to these issues and make their own informed judgements.

58. In their study of the processes which bring about changes in physical and human conditions in different places, pupils will learn about developments which have brought great benefits to communities, groups and individuals. However, they should also be helped to understand why some processes can lead to a deterioration in the quality of environments and in the quality of life of some people. Pupils can be helped to appreciate that there are important locational and environmental issues about which individuals and groups in society have different attitudes, for example, the proper use of land in National Parks, the routes of new motorways, the siting of power stations and airports, and expenditure on environmental protection. Suitable case studies can help pupils to gain a better understanding of the nature of some controversial locational and environmental issues, including the relevance to such issues of beliefs, attitudes and values. Critical examination and discussion of the evidence can also help them to explore the relationships between beliefs, attitudes and values, decisions and behaviour.

59. When given adequate information about a particular case, intellectually mature students should be able to identify the values of those directly involved in the issue, reflect on their own values and make their own informed judgements. However, they should also recognise why it is sometimes difficult, and perhaps even impossible, to arrive at a wholly satisfactory solution. The sort of large-scale or widespread problems which may be studied in geography include those associated with poverty in economically less developed regions and countries; the decline of traditional manufacturing industries in the economically developed world; the poverty and deprivation in the inner areas of large cities; resource management and conservation; the quality of the environment; armed conflict

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between and within nations; and refugee populations. The study of particular examples can help pupils to acquire more general understanding of such matters and to appreciate, when progress is evident, the sort of policies and actions that can contribute to solutions or improvements. The treatment of controversial social, political and environmental issues in geography should provide important opportunities for political education, enhancing pupils' levels of political literacy. Some suggestions about how to approach the teaching of controversial issues are made in paragraph 73.

Objective 9: to help pupils to develop a wide range of skills and competencies that are required for geographical enquiry and are widely applicable in other contexts.

60. While pupils should learn techniques and acquire skills which are of specific value to geographical study and enquiry, for example, in the use of maps and fieldwork, they should also develop more general competencies, often labelled as intellectual skills, study skills and social skills. They should be introduced to methods of enquiry which are not only of value in geography but can also be applied in other fields and other situations.

61. The development of skills usually depends more on the activities in which pupils engage than on the specific content which they study. In geography the learning of skills should be facilitated by the nature of the tasks which pupils are set and the variety of source materials which they use (maps, photographs, diagrams, statistics and a wide range of texts). The types of skills which should be developed are those concerned with:

  • observing and measuring;
  • locating, extracting and collecting relevant information (search skills);
  • describing and recording, using a variety of appropriate ways (maps, diagrams, tables, field sketches, written statements);
  • interpreting and analysing (identifying, discriminating, comparing, classifying, recognising patterns and associations, making valid generalisations from evidence);
  • applying principles to new situations;
  • drawing together and organising information and ideas to produce a coherent account (synthesis);
  • making sound judgement (evaluation) and informed decisions;

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  • selecting, presenting and communicating information and ideas in a variety of ways.
Group activities in geography, both in the classroom and more particularly in fieldwork, provide especially good opportunities for pupils to develop social skills. They can learn how to co-operate with one another, how to contribute to a joint venture and how to discuss purposefully, and on suitable occasions individuals can gain some experience of leading a team.

62. Pupils who continue to study geography to the age of 16 can make significant progress in the more demanding activities which require interpretation of information, application of principles, analysis, synthesis and evaluation. In comparison with their earlier attainments, they should be capable of dealing with more complex situations and applying more difficult ideas; they should reveal greater perception and reasoning power. Most older pupils should be capable of carrying out a project or enquiry which they plan and organise themselves. By this stage, they should know where and how to gather relevant information and abler pupils should make effective use of sound strategies of enquiry.

Objective 10: to help pupils to act more effectively in the environment as individuals and as members of society.

63. Pupils should be educated to be spatially 'literate'; that is, to be able to 'orientate' themselves by 'reading' the landscape and making sense of their surroundings. They should be helped to develop a functional 'mental map' of the area in which they live and have some appreciation of what they can reasonably expect to find in other types of environment in which they may have to operate. They should also be able to make use of maps 'in the field', to orientate themselves and to select and follow routes.

64. Pupils' geographical education should help them to make decisions about where to engage in particular activities and what routes to take for particular journeys. Their knowledge and understanding of the environment in which they live should help them to take better advantage of the opportunities which it offers and to make sensible decisions, for example, about where to search for suitable employment or accommodation or particular social facilities.

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65. An informed concern about the quality of environments and the conditions which influence the quality of life in different places, combined with an appreciation of the processes which influence these, should help to prepare pupils to make their proper contributions as responsible members of their community and as adult members of society.

Teaching strategies for the secondary phase

66. The learning objectives proposed for the 11 to 16 phase of secondary education have important implications for teaching strategies. While the nature of an educational goal rarely dictates the teaching methods to be used, at least in any precise way, some types of learning are almost certainly fostered more directly by some strategies of teaching than by others. A considerable amount of geography teaching in secondary schools has emphasised the transmission of information. Many lessons consist of teacher exposition, often supported by visual aids; some dialogue between the teacher and the class, usually controlled fairly tightly by the teacher's questions and response to pupils' answers; and structured tasks, which are usually based on textbooks or on worksheets. Use is made of a wide range of resource materials, which usually contain maps and diagrams as well as reading materials. While such methods certainly have a part to play in the teaching of geography, the objectives described earlier also require methods which engage pupils more actively in their learning. In the remainder of this section we suggest some ways in which the general quality of teaching and learning might be improved.

67. When teachers are concerned to transmit information, as they properly are on many occasions, it is important that relevant, accurate and up-to-date information is presented in a clear and interesting way, and that it is 'accessible' to pupils, in the sense that it should be in a form which they can comprehend. Care must always be taken to match the level of language which is used, whether written or spoken, to that with which the pupil can cope. Photographs, maps and diagrams are especially important in geography as sources of information about landscapes and about locations, distributions and spatial relations, but they often contain complex messages which need to be interpreted. Their value is therefore enhanced as pupils acquire the techniques and skills to make good use of them, and such

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skills need to be taught and applied in appropriate contexts if they are to be mastered.

68. When the objectives of teaching focus on pupils developing geographical understanding, acquiring a range of skills and gaining a reasonable appreciation of social, economic, political and environmental issues, methods are required which involve them in appropriate activities. Pupils should not be primarily passive recipients of information, but should be given adequate opportunities to carry out practical investigations, to explore and express ideas in their own language, to apply ideas and skills to new situations, to interpret, analyse and evaluate information, and to reflect on their own and other peoples' attitudes and values. In many of their activities it will be appropriate for pupils to make their own informed judgements and decisions.

69. In The teaching of ideas in geography HMI drew attention to the importance of the teacher's role in developing pupils' understanding of general ideas. It was suggested that a principal aim of any scheme of work based on generalisations must be the enhancement of the pupils' understanding of the material being studied, and the acceleration of their progress towards higher order intellectual skills such as analysis and application of the ideas learned and understood. In most cases this is facilitated when the teacher, by sensitive and timely intervention, is able to act as a catalyst; indeed it is essential for generalisations to be explored and discussed and difficult for pupils to crystallise and shape ideas without a dialogue which helps them identify what is significant and establishes yardsticks of comparison between different examples. It was also pointed out that such interaction amongst the pupils and with the teacher is likely to be more successful at the small group level, although a measure of class teaching may also be useful for some aspects of the work. Classroom discussion tends to be more productive when the teacher encourages pupils to make extended oral responses and, when appropriate, to correct or refine their own statements. Pupils are also more likely to gain from discussion when they can base it on information which is rich in detail and capable of stimulating their imagination; when they are encouraged to draw upon their own experience; and when they asked 'open' rather than 'closed' questions.

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70. Fieldwork is particularly important in geography as it provides opportunities for pupils to develop skills of observation, measurement and recording and to engage in enquiry-based learning. Geographical concepts can be developed from direct experience and techniques can be learned in the context of practical investigations. Such learning is likely to be most effective when a geography department has a programme of fieldwork structured to achieve progression over the five year period. While much can be tackled reasonably near to a school, a longer visit to a more distant place can give an added stimulus to learning and enable pupils to compare and contrast their own environment with a very different one. Fieldwork should always be integrated with classroom activities; it requires careful preparation and follow-up.

71. Practical activities in geography usually focus on the construction and interpretation of maps and diagrams. However, other practical activities, ranging from the construction of three dimensional models in the classroom to the investigation of the microclimatology of the site of the school, can contribute to pupils' learning.

72. Suitably designed role-playing games and simulations can help pupils to examine locational and environmental decision making and the attitudes and values which influence these. They can generate valuable discussion and can be successful with able and less able pupils. However, success requires careful briefing, good classroom management and proper attention to follow-up. Follow-up is necessary in order to deal with any misconceptions which have arisen and to draw out the more important ideas and relate them to other learning. It is important that the simplifications and abstractions in a game are recognised by pupils and are set against the complexities of those aspects of the real world which the game is intended to represent.

73. The exploration of controversial issues in geography, such as those involving the inequalities of human welfare and opportunities in different places, the destruction and depletion of resources, the quality of environments, and the costs and benefits of modern technology, can be challenging to the professional skills of teachers. While pupils obviously need to acquire relevant knowledge about the issue under consideration, they also need to diagnose the causes of problems; to raise pertinent questions;

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to interpret, analyse and evaluate the evidence available; to discuss the attitudes and values relevant to a situation; and to make up their own minds on the issue. The implication is that pupils should be encouraged and helped to engage actively in enquiry. It is important that teachers take care to avoid bias in the overall presentation of information to pupils and in tasks which they set. The following questions can help to structure an issue-based enquiry in geography:

  • What appears to be the nature of the issue and what are the geographical aspects?
  • Which people and what places, locations or environments are involved?
  • What is the relative importance of the geographical aspects of the problem?
  • What views are held by individuals and groups about the problem and its possible solution and how do these vary?
  • What attitudes and values appear to underlie these different views?
  • What other information do you require to investigate the issue?
  • How can this information be usefully analysed?
  • To what extent does the evidence support or contradict alternative views?
  • What are the advantages and disadvantages of alternative solutions? Who would benefit and who would lose?
  • How good is the evidence?
  • What are your own feelings about the issue? Which proposal do you favour and why? What further information do you require to make a personal judgement and how might this be obtained?
  • Have you changed your views as a result of your investigation?
74. Developments in information technology are providing important new sources of geographical information and the means to employ new ways of working. In recent years remote sensing from satellites has improved our knowledge of weather systems, contributed to resource exploration and to land use mapping, and assisted systematic monitoring of natural disasters

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and of the environmental impact of human activities. The study of geography should help to make sense of the information which can be obtained from such sources.

75. The use of computers and other electronic devices in geography can support pupils' development of ideas and skills within the subject as well as strengthen their awareness and understanding of information technology. Software packages are available which can store large amounts of spatial and other information to be used in geographical enquiries. Some of these compile maps and diagrams in response to questions posed by the users. Computer programs can be used in simulations, which enable pupils to explore different strategies to a problem, and to compare what might happen given alternative conditions and assumptions. Some equipment, such as programmable calculators, can be used in the field as well as in the classroom. Increasingly, word processing facilities will make it easier for individual pupils, and groups of pupils, to reflect and improve upon their initial ideas and presentations.

Planning and organisation in secondary schools

76. In contrast to primary schools, most geography lessons in secondary schools will be taught by teachers who have specialist expertise in the subject. The geography staff are usually organised within a subject department, with a head of department who has responsibility for the subject throughout the school. In smaller secondary schools, however, the geography teachers may be members of a humanities or environmental studies department which is concerned with teaching several subjects. In this case, it is important that a member of the department, with appropriate expertise, be given specific responsibility for all aspects of the development of geography. In some secondary schools, and especially with combined studies courses, geography is also taught by teachers who are specialists in other fields, and who have limited expertise and confidence in this subject. They need particular support and guidance from the geographers in the team and, when appropriate, from in-service training. Schools need to consider carefully whether such teachers are able to teach the subject with sufficient skill.

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77. A departmental organisation, when functioning properly, can encourage specialist staff to work closely together to devise a coherent programme and to develop effective teaching strategies. Enthusiasm and expertise can be shared through team planning and preparation and team teaching. Although information and ideas will be exchanged informally, there is also need for regular departmental meetings to ensure that systematic attention is given to curriculum development and review. Any non-specialists contributing to geography teaching should be involved in team discussions and course preparation.

78. The teachers who plan the geography programme must take account of the curricular policies formulated by their local education authority, the governing body of the school and the headteacher. Their scheme will inevitably be influenced by organisational opportunities and constraints, such as the overall structure of the school curriculum, the details of the school timetable and the availability and deployment of staff, accommodation and material resources. Other factors will include the demands of external examinations, the support within a school for curriculum innovation, and the stimulus and support provided by external agents, such as local education authority advisers. When the staff of a school as a whole are encouraged to think about cross-curricular matters, a geography department is more likely to give serious attention to the contribution of the subject to broad educational aims. However, a lively and thoughtful subject department can influence the curriculum thinking of a whole school.

79. A geography department should set out its intentions and strategies in the form of a teaching syllabus, a formal statement which describes the rationale and framework for an educational programme; gives guidance on the content and methods which can be used; indicates the resources which are available; and outlines the actions which are necessary for effective implementation. A teaching syllabus should not be confused with an examination syllabus, which usually describes the content, understanding and skills which are to be examined but not how these are to be attained. An examination syllabus, produced by an examining board, is no substitute for a teaching syllabus for years 4 and 5. While a teaching syllabus should summarise a department's current thinking about its courses and provide guidance for more detailed lesson planning, it should not be

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regarded as a rigid blueprint, but a plan and outline of strategies which can be adjusted as required. It should be a working document. All teaching syllabuses should be reviewed periodically with the aim of making improvements.

80. A teaching syllabus for geography should include information on the following.

  • Goals - a clear statement of the educational purposes of a course to include:
    i. educational aims - broad goals which indicate the general direction of learning intended and the priorities within a course;
    ii. learning objectives - more specific goals which indicate the types of knowledge, understanding, skills, competencies and attitudes through which the aims are realised.
  • Content - the places, themes, topics and issues which have been selected for study. A syllabus should explain and justify the criteria for selection and therefore should indicate the relationships between goals and content. It should specify which content is essential, in the sense that it is necessary to satisfy particular goals, and which is illustrative and could be replaced by other examples or case studies.
  • Methods - guidance on the types of learning activities and teaching methods which are considered to be most effective for particular goals. A syllabus should recognise the scope for alternative methods and for personal preferences with regard to styles of teaching and learning but not so as to distort purposes and priorities. Attention should be given to fieldwork as well as to classroom activities.
  • Structure - the organisation of content and activities over the time span of a course to satisfy aims and objectives, to give satisfactory weighting to important components and to facilitate pupils' learning. Particular attention should be given to sequence and progression, and to the coherence of the course.
  • Resources - the relevant material resources available for each section of the programme.
  • Differentiation - how curriculum objectives, content, learning activities/teaching methods and resources may be differentiated to cope with the range of ability and experience of the pupils. Differentiation should take account of the organisation of teaching groups.

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  • Assessment and record keeping - the forms and frequency of assessment to be used to monitor and measure pupils' progress and the records of achievement to be maintained.
  • Evaluation - the means by which teachers will gauge the effectiveness of a course and the arrangements for systematic review and revision.
  • Time allocations - the appropriate allowance of time to each unit of study and the phasing of important events such as fieldwork and formal tests/examinations.
The various elements must be drawn together in the form of a coherent plan. Many geography departments have found it useful to display the structure of their schemes in the form of a two-dimensional matrix, within which learning objectives, content, methods, resources, type of assessment and time allocation are specified for each unit of work. The identification of key ideas (stated as generalisations) and specific skills for each unit has proved to be especially helpful in giving direction to the selection of content, methods and forms of assessment, and these in turn call for particular resources.

81. A teaching syllabus is of greatest value to those who design and subsequently review it, in that the process of constructing and revising such a statement can stimulate teachers to sort out their rationale and to focus their thinking on important curricular issues. The discussion which accompanies planning can bring assumptions to the surface to be questioned and reflected upon, and it can open the door to fresh ideas. However, a teaching syllabus can also provide useful guidance for staff who did not contribute to its design, especially if it is regarded as a working document which is kept under review. A teaching syllabus can also provide a basis for discussion and co-ordination with other staff within the school, such as the teachers of related subjects; the teachers providing remedial support for pupils or catering for other special needs such as English as a second language; and the head teacher and senior staff responsible for broader curricular policies and decisions. A teaching syllabus should reveal what sort of contribution a course makes to the total curriculum of a school and, therefore, should be of value when reviewing the overall breadth and balance of a curriculum; the treatment of cross-curricular themes (eg environmental education, political education); and the development of whole school curricular strategies (eg language across the curriculum, the development

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of learning skills, and educating pupils for living in a multiethnic society). Selected elements from a teaching syllabus can also be of interest and value to pupils, parents and school governors. Much can be gained from informing pupils and others about the aims and objectives of a course and the strategies which it is intended to use.

82. The need for very careful planning and structuring is equally strong, if not stronger, for courses in which geography is combined with other subjects. In these cases, content may well be influenced by a concern to include themes which are of interest to the several subjects involved, and the structure of a course may be arrived at through a process of negotiation, during which the different subject preferences have to be reconciled. Some degree of compromise may be essential. Questions of subject breadth and balance, of depth of understanding, of coherence of content and of progression of learning take on an added dimension. For such courses, it is all the more important that teachers are clear about their educational goals and appreciate the distinct nature of the subject contributions.

Progression and continuity

83. Between the ages of 5 and 16 pupils experience considerable physical, intellectual, emotional and social development associated with their gradual maturing. Their intellectual development is marked by significant changes in style of reasoning and quality of thinking which schools must support and foster. The geographical component of the curriculum should be designed to facilitate pupils' progression in learning by a careful structuring of content and activities, to take account of the ways in which pupils mature and the nature of what is to be learnt. Pupils should be helped to build upon their previous experience and learning, and their understanding, skills and competencies should be taken forward in programmes which attempt to match the educational demands made upon them to their capabilities. This is a far from straightforward process and it needs continuous monitoring. Assessment of pupils' progress is essential to provide teachers with the information necessary to adjust their programmes to meet the requirements of individuals.

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84. Earlier paragraphs provided some examples of the scope for progression in geographical learning. Teachers can plan their courses to enable pupils gradually to acquire and develop mapwork skills; to develop their understanding of networks of related concepts, such as those associated with 'location', 'environment' and 'place'; and to systematically extend and deepen their understanding of important aspects of the environment and types of human activity which figure as recurrent themes in geographical studies (eg weather and climate, settlement patterns, farming, industry).

85. Progression in geographical learning should involve the following.

  • An increase in breadth of studies. There should be a gradual extension of content to include different places, new landscapes, a variety of geographical conditions and a range of human activities. That extension of knowledge should be linked closely to the development of understanding, skills, attitudes and values.
  • An increasing depth of study associated with pupils' growing capacity to deal with complexities and abstractions. As pupils mature intellectually they are able to make sense of more complex situations, to cope with more demanding information, to take account of more intricate webs of interrelationships and to undertake more complicated tasks. Thus, whilst younger pupils can investigate the types of shops and the services provided in a small shopping centre, older pupils can examine the form and functions of a city centre or investigate changes in the spatial structure of retailing in a rural or urban area. At the same time, the gradual development of general ideas (concepts, generalisations and models) helps pupils to interpret their experiences and structure information. There should be a gradual progression from concepts of objects and processes that can be directly observed to concepts of processes and relationships which can only be inferred.
  • An increase in the spatial scale of what is studied. The growth in pupils' abilities to take account of greater complexities and to make use of general ideas enables them to undertake successful geographical studies of larger areas. Older pupils can cope more effectively with geographical themes tackled at regional, national, continental and global scales.

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  • A continuing development of skills to include the use of specific techniques and more general strategies of enquiry matched to pupils' developing cognitive abilities.
  • Increasing opportunity for pupils to examine social, economic, political and environmental issues. Older pupils should not only be more skilled at evaluating evidence and the consequences of alternative courses of action, but should develop greater appreciation and understanding of the influence of people's beliefs, attitudes and values.
Appendix 3 provides an illustration of the way in which these ideas can be applied to a broad geographical theme - manufacturing industry.

86. While programmes of learning activities extending over the 5 to 16 age range necessarily involve shifts in the nature of what is studied, the methods which are used and the environment in which learning takes place, sharp discontinuities can impede progression in learning. Such discontinuities are most likely to occur when pupils move from one teacher to another, from one course to another and from one school to another. An example of the first is when pupils in a primary school move from one class to the next. Without effective co-ordination between teachers there can be unnecessary repetition of work and a failure to build on pupils' previous experience and learning. The best approach is through the sort of curricular planning, involving the whole staff of a school, which was outlined earlier (paragraphs 38 to 41). While the staff of a school can achieve a great deal by reaching agreement on the objectives for geography and on the main strategies to be adopted, a teacher receiving a new class also requires an accurate record of what the pupils tackled in previous years and with what success. In a secondary school a similar discontinuity can occur when pupils move from a humanities or environmental studies course to separate subjects, especially when different teams of teachers are responsible for the different courses. Again there is a need for careful planning and good records. The links between courses should be made explicit to pupils.

87. The greater challenge for primary, middle and secondary schools, however, is to provide a smooth transition for pupils moving between the phases. Curricular discussions between the geography department of a secondary school and teachers from feeder primary or middle schools can improve their knowledge

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of each other's priorities and practices and help to establish mutual understanding and respect. The process takes time. It can be helped by joint participation in in-service training and on working parties, and by the encouragement and support of the local education authority. The test of co-operation and liaison is whether teachers from different phases are prepared, when necessary, to adjust their approaches in order to improve pupils' learning.

88. In most secondary schools a discontinuity of a different kind occurs at the end of the third year, when pupils are given some choice about which subjects they will study in years 4 and 5. As geography is usually provided as an optional subject in the later years, it is essential that pupils' geographical education to the age of 14 is broad, balanced and coherent. Courses must be designed to serve the needs of those who will not continue to study the subject as well as provide a satisfactory foundation for those who will. However, since many of the most valuable insights which a study of the subject can provide require a breadth of knowledge and an intellectual maturity which are usually beyond younger pupils, it is a matter of regret that some pupils entirely cease any study of geography at 14. It is appreciated that it is difficult to design a curriculum which would enable all pupils up to and including the age of 16 to maintain contact with more subjects than is at present customary. Nevertheless, those concerned about geographical education need to explore ways in which some worthwhile contact with geography might be retained for all up to this age, while enabling those who choose to do so to study it in greater depth and detail.


89. The assessment of pupils' progress is essential to a sound teaching strategy. Among its most important educational purposes are to inform pupils about the progress they are making in geographical learning; to detect and diagnose learning difficulties experienced by individual pupils; and to contribute information which will be relevant to the evaluation of the geographical component of the curriculum, including the effectiveness of teaching. Without adequate attention to assessment, neither pupils nor teachers know how well they are doing. It is vitally

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important that assessment should not be regarded as an end in itself. The ultimate purpose is to provide information which will help to improve pupils' learning. Assessment should therefore be regarded as an integral part of the curriculum, requiring careful preparation and leading to further activities as a result of the information gained. The considerable time and effort required to check pupils' work, to monitor their progress and to measure their achievements are only justified if assessment makes a constructive contribution to teaching and learning. In addition, the evidence from systematic assessment enables a school to provide parents and others with useful and reliable records of pupils' achievements.

90. The wide range of goals identified as appropriate for geography, in both the primary and secondary phases of education, calls for a variety of assessment techniques. Unfortunately, it is much easier to check whether pupils can recall specific information and whether they have acquired simple skills, such as some of the basic map reading skills, than it is to assess their geographical understanding, or their ability to reason, or how well they have carried out a project or enquiry. But it is essential that pupils' achievements in relation to such important goals as these are assessed. The clearer teachers are about their objectives, the easier it is for them to identify criteria for assessment.

91. Much valuable assessment can be carried out informally, by observing pupils while they are engaged in learning activities; by talking to them about what they are doing and about their geographical understanding; and by checking their written and other recorded work regularly and systematically. Tasks can be set which are at the same time suitable vehicles for both learning and assessment. However, there are limits to what can be done in the busy life of the classroom and other time must also be set aside to mark pupils' work and to record and analyse the findings of assessment. Pupils are likely to gain most from regular checking when they understand the criteria for any marks or grades which are awarded and when teachers respond to their work in a constructive manner. Often an important element of the response is the discussion between teacher and pupil following the checking of a piece of work. It is essential that pupils should view assessment as an aid to learning. Indeed, pupils should be encouraged and helped to make sound judgements about their own work as a step towards improving what they know and what they do.

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92. Carefully designed tests can help teachers to assess older pupils' achievement of specific objectives and to diagnose learning difficulties. But the construction of appropriate test items is a far from straightforward task and calls for particular skills from teachers. One encouraging trend in secondary education is the greater use in geography examinations of data response questions, which require pupils to interpret and analyse information, to apply ideas and skills, and to recognise attitudes and values. It is likely that the General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE) examinations in geography will encourage more teachers to become familiar with a wide range of strategies of assessment, including those appropriate for fieldwork and coursework. Some of the strategies may be equally suitable for the assessment of pupils' learning in earlier years.

93. It is unnecessary, and may be counterproductive, to attempt to measure pupils' achievements in every learning activity that they undertake. Such overuse of assessment could interfere with learning, by creating stress for some pupils, by narrowing educational goals, by discouraging pupils from exercising their imaginations and by reducing the time available for teaching and learning. Nevertheless, an appropriate range of assessments, conducted over a period of time, enables teachers to build up a rounded picture of a pupil's performance and provides a basis for evaluating a programme of work. Teachers need to consider carefully what sort of assessment is appropriate for fieldwork, for classroom investigations and for games and simulations. It may be better to limit assessment to selected outcomes from such experiences. Most difficult of all is to decide what part assessment should play in relation to learning which focuses on attitudes and values. Perhaps assessment in this aspect of learning should be concerned mainly with finding out whether or not pupils can detect and then recognise the relevance of other people's attitudes and values to particular environmental and locational decisions or issues; assessment should not be concerned with probing and evaluating pupils' own feelings.

94. Some schools and some geography departments have begun to explore the possibility of producing pupil profiles which identify different types of achievement. For example, a secondary school might make use of the categories proposed by the GCSE Grade Related Criteria Working Party of the Secondary

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Examinations Council (1): specific geographical knowledge; geographical understanding; map and graphical skills; the application of geography to economic, environmental, political and social issues (a category which recognises the importance of values); and geographical enquiry (the ability to participate in geographical investigations which include the identification of a question, the basic skills of data collection, seeking answers and explanations and presenting findings). Such a scheme would highlight pupils' achievements in different types of activity, and would therefore be more likely to reveal particular aspects of learning in which individual pupils or the teaching group as a whole require additional support.

95. The assessment of pupils' learning is a vital source of information for evaluating the appropriateness and effectiveness of a curriculum, especially when assessment is conceived as a continuous process. Its findings can confirm teachers' confidence in parts of their programme and indicate other parts which require review. Disappointing levels of achievement may be due to various factors, such as unrealistic objectives, inappropriate content, inadequate or inappropriate learning resources or ineffective methods of teaching. It may even be that the method of assessment is unsatisfactory. Whilst the findings of assessment therefore require careful interpretation, the messages which they contain are not ones to ignore. They may have as much to say about the geography curriculum as about the achievements of individual pupils.

(1) The Secondary Examinations Council, Newcombe House, 45 Notting Hill Gate, London W11 3JB.

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Appendix 1

Application of locational questions to a particular activity: the fire service

1. Where is the nearest fire station?The location can be described in relation to features with which the pupils are already familiar eg the school and their own homes; and in relation to features shown on a map.Reading maps - finding features.
2. What area does it serve?The advantages of a central location can be examined and possible reasons for other types of location discussed.Describing locations.
3. How is the 'street furniture' associated with the fire service (eg fire hydrants) recognised and distributed?The regularity of the location of hydrants could be investigated and compared with other street furniture.Placing information on maps.
4. How far is it to various parts of the area served?Time is a vital factor in dealing with emergencies, and travel time and route distance can be compared.Measuring from maps.
Comparing two sets of information: route distance and time of journeys.
5. How long does it take to get to these various places?Pupils can consider why the speed of journeys varies along different routes and at different times of the day.
A short section of a route might be surveyed to identify traffic holdups.Drawing a map for a specific purpose.
6. Which routes would be followed to get to various locations?

7. What alternative routes are needed to take account of places of congestion, one way streets, temporary roadworks?
Games might be introduced which require pupils to find the shortest/easiest/quickest routes to various places.Following and describing routes.

Identifying types of information about routes which a fireman might require but which are not normally shown on street maps.

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8. Where are the neighbouring fire stations?
What is their distribution?
Pupils could examine the distribution of fire stations in a large city or a large rural area.Describing and analysing a distribution pattern.
How far apart are they? Are they evenly distributed, and, if not, what is the explanation?Pupils could compare the sizes of the fire stations, the equipment available in each, and the services which they can provide.Comparing sets of information.
9. What are the geographical characteristics of the area which the fire station serves?Pupils could consider the main types of land use in the area eg agricultural, residential, commercial, industrial.Observing on the ground.
They may be able to identify patterns of land use and clustering of particular types of buildings.
The different materials used in constructions might be noted.
Reading maps.
Recording information on maps.
10. What kinds of problems associated with the geography of the area is the fire service called upon to help with?It may be possible to relate the occurrence of fires to particular types of land use and types of activity. Fires may be more common in some areas than others.
The fire service is sometimes called upon to deal with the effects of flooding and to rescue people and animals from precarious positions.
Analysing the causes of fires and other problems dealt with by the fire service.

Analysing distribution patterns.

Imaginative writing.

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Appendix 2

Support from external agencies

Teachers in primary, middle and secondary schools, whether general class teachers or subject specialists, can obtain valuable support from external agents, such as local education authority advisers/inspectors, the Geographical Association and institutions engaged in teacher training. That support can be in the form of consultation, in-service training and documents which give suggestions and guidance.

Several local education authorities have recently produced, or are in the process of producing, curriculum guidelines on geography for younger pupils, in most cases through a working party led by an inspector or adviser.

Examples are:

Avon, History and geography in primary schools, 1982.
ILEA, The study of places in the primary school, 1981.
Sheffield, The geographical curriculum 8-14: planning and practice, 1981.

The Geographical Association (1) publishes two journals, Geography and Teaching Geography and a wide range of other texts that are written specifically for teachers in schools. Examples of more recent publications that have direct relevance to curriculum planning are:

Mills, D. (ed.) Geographical work in primary and middle schools, 1981.
Boardman, D. (ed.) Handbook for geography teachers, 1986. (A handbook for the teaching of geography in secondary schools)
Williams, M. Designing and teaching integrated courses, 1984.
Corney, G. and Rawlings, E. (eds.) Teaching slow learners through geography, 1985.
Corney, G. (ed.) Geography, schools and industry, 1985.
Walford, R. (ed.) Geographical education for a multicultural society, 1985.

The many local branches of the Association are distributed widely over the country.

(1) The Geographical Association, 343 Fulwood Road, Sheffield S10 3BP.

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Teacher training institutions often provide in-service courses for teachers, and geography lecturers who are directly involved in initial teacher training are usually very pleased to establish strong links with individual schools, especially those in which they place their students for teaching experience and teaching practice. A close working relationship between schools, students and teacher trainers can be very productive for all concerned.

Appendix 3

Manufacturing industry - an illustration of progression

Manufacturing industry is one of the categories of human activity which usually figures as a recurrent element in the content of geography curricula. Because it is so common as a theme it provides a good illustration of the need and scope for progression in learning. Within the geography of manufacturing industry it is possible to identify several sub-themes which can be translated into broad learning objectives. For example, it might be agreed that pupils, through their geographical studies, should be helped to develop understanding of:

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Although these objects are stated in terms which are specific to a particular field of content, they are closely related to the more general geographical goals which have been outlined for the early primary, later primary and secondary phases of education. The achievement of such objectives is dependent on pupils acquiring a wide range of geographical ideas and skills and gaining some appreciation of conflicting human values and of different attitudes towards manufacturing industry. It is a gradual process which can be facilitated by careful curriculum planning, that takes account of pupils' experience, knowledge and ways of thinking.

Some guidelines for planning a suitable progression can be obtained by applying the principles described in paragraph 85 of the main report.

a. An increase in breadth of studies. The variety of types of manufacturing, the different geographical conditions required by different industries and the different landscapes and environments that are created make it necessary for pupils to study a range of examples. It is often possible to introduce young pupils to important ideas through studies of local industry. In later primary and secondary years it will be necessary and desirable to look further afield to find suitable examples of different types of industrial location, to examine the sort of changes that are taking place in the United Kingdom and elsewhere in the world, and to relate industrial patterns to different resource bases, to different technologies and to different economic and political conditions. Older pupils in the secondary phase can benefit from studying examples from the 'Third World' and from relatively prosperous capitalist and communist countries, and by comparing significant features of manufacturing industry in the three types of economy.

b. An increasing depth of study associated with pupils' capacity to deal with complexities and abstractions.

Complexity may be an inherent quality of what is being studied or it may be a consequence of the information presented to pupils and of the tasks which pupils are given. Taking the first, there is likely to be an increase in complexity in progressing:

  • from a description of the typical tasks undertaken by an individual worker to an account of the set of interrelated activities which make up a complete manufacturing process;

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  • from an analysis of the location of a single factory to an analysis of a distribution pattern;
  • from the study of a single factory to the study of an industrial complex containing a variety of types of manufacturing;
  • from an examination of the current conditions within an industry to an investigation of the changes which have taken place over a period of time.
There is also potential complexity in the relationships between an industry and other activities in the area within which it is located. In all these examples, complexity is a function of the number of variables and the number and nature of the relationships which have to be considered.

Complexity may also be a function of the presentation of information - whether in language, maps, diagrams, statistics or visual images; or of the ideas which are introduced and which pupils are required to discriminate between and to apply; or of the mechanics of a task. But teachers have considerable control over the supply of information and ideas and they are usually responsible for the tasks which pupils are set. They may select and organise these in order to simplify without distorting. Thus, it is possible to introduce simple examples of distribution patterns and of changing conditions to quite young pupils. Nevertheless, the principle remains that it is best to start from a small number of variables and straightforward relationships and increase the complications as pupils are more capable of dealing with them.

Abstraction. General ideas need to be introduced through examples which pupils can understand reasonably easily. In the primary phase emphasis should be placed on the study of specific activities and specific work places about which pupils can acquire realistic mental images. A foundation of concrete knowledge can be provided through the appropriate use of films, photographs, drawings and artefacts, and, whenever possible, through the experience of direct observation and discussions with adults involved in manufacturing activities.

Unnecessary learning difficulties can be created by the abstract presentation of ideas. For example, the ideas commonly presented as basic factors of production - materials, power, labour, capital, markets - are all abstractions and most of them offer scope for misinterpretation. One of the main difficulties is that

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some of these terms will be familiar to pupils, but in geography lessons the terms are given specialist meanings which are different from those underlying their common usage. Pupils need appropriate illustrations and careful guidance to develop an understanding of the range of meaning and breadth of application of such terms. Site and location are other terms which need careful handling, in this case because they are too often used as if they were synonymous rather than having distinct meanings which are geographically significant. Some broad concepts, such as resource, technology and environment, are useful at different levels of understanding, whilst other ideas are inherently difficult and are therefore more appropriate for older, abler pupils. Concepts such as least cost location, comparative advantage, location quotient, environmental perception and social costs would appear to fall into this category, as do such conceptual models as the multiplier model (Mydral), the stages of economic growth model (Rostow) and Weber's industrial location model. Indeed, it may be better to defer the introduction of some of these models until at least the sixth form. Care also needs to be taken over the application of some statistical techniques, such as the use of Spearman's Rank Correlation to explore the statistical relationships between two sets of data. Pupils can all too easily describe the framework of a model or apply a technique, without really appreciating the significance and limitations of either.

c. Spatial Scale. The study of distribution patterns and spatial relationships associated with manufacturing industry should be undertaken at a variety of spatial scales. However, the tendency for these patterns to be more complex at larger scales and the need for much wider knowledge to provide an adequate geographical framework for students at national, international and global levels, suggest that these are often better tackled in the later stages of the secondary phase. This is the time when pupils are more likely to make reasonable sense of the overall distribution of manufacturing industry within a country or the global distribution of a selected industry. But much depends on the country and the industries selected.

d. Skills. The study of any major recurrent theme should involve activities which require a range of skills and competencies. Tasks can be planned to facilitate the progressive acquisition of specific skills, such as those associated with the use of maps and diagrams, and to give scope for the development of more general intellectual and social competencies. Skills may

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be demanding because they require precision or because they involve the analysis and evaluation of complex situations or the application of abstract ideas. While some ideas are likely to be specific to manufacturing industry, or at least to economic geography, intellectual skills are usually more general in kind. In practice, intellectual skills and understanding are closely interdependent. Teachers who are planning a course, therefore, need to analyse the tasks that they propose to set, in order to identify the skills and understanding which such tasks require.

e. Issues. Environmental, social and political problems associated with manufacturing industries can be effectively introduced at a fairly early stage, when the issues appear to the pupils to be real and immediate. This is more likely to be the case when an issue concerns the local environment or when it is a topical issue which is receiving considerable attention on television and radio. But controversial industrial developments or proposals may involve many interrelated factors - economic, technological, environmental, social and political - and an adequate understanding of the nature of any particular issue, and why it is difficult to resolve, usually requires an appreciation of the attitudes and values of the interested parties. The costs and benefits are often difficult to determine and any evaluation must to some extent be subjective. Controversial issues of this sort can be studied more satisfactorily by pupils who are intellectually mature.

The sort of analysis which has been presented here clearly does not lead to a precise blueprint for the selection and organisation of content and activities. The choice of specific content is potentially great and will be influenced by such considerations as the general framework which has been adopted for particular courses and the learning resources which are available. But the conclusions can usefully inform the planning of teaching programmes. The following structure illustrates how progression could be catered for within the recurrent theme of manufacturing industry.

Early primary

During this phase pupils can be helped through visits, stories, role play and other activities, to appreciate:

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a. some of the different types of work that adults do - eg making things, selling things, helping people in other ways. The focus would be on individuals and their activities.

b. that some types of work are associated with particular types of places and buildings: eg teaching in schools, selling goods in shops, repairing cars in garages, farming on suitable land and making goods in factories;
whilst other types of work involve travelling between places: eg bus driver, postman, fireman;
Where possible the types of work should be related to people and places that the pupils know.

c. that most of the things that we use regularly - the clothes that we wear and most of the objects in our homes and in classrooms - are made.

d. that many different types of materials are used in the making of the things that we produce and that these materials have to be brought to factories from elsewhere.

Vocabulary to introduce includes: to make, to repair, to buy, to sell, to transport; factory, office, machinery; and the names of specific types of employment and activities.

Later primary

a. While the local area should continue to be a source of interest and direct experience, pupils' studies should be extended to other places which can provide scope for them to learn about other types of work in different environments.
At least one place studied could be an industrial area.

b. Visits and case studies can help pupils to develop a fuller understanding of a selection of manufacturing activities and of the working conditions associated with them.

c. Pupils can examine the sequence of processes within these manufacturing industries and make use of flow diagrams to summarise the sequences.

d. Simple analyses can be made of:

  • the reasons why a particular industry is located where it is;

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  • the advantages and disadvantages of a given location;
  • a simple distribution pattern at a local or regional scale; and
  • the places to which a factory is linked for the supply of its materials and distribution of its products.
Appropriate learning activities would be linked to pupils' development of map and atlas skills.

e. Where suitable evidence is available, preferably in relation to the local area, pupils could study some specific changes which have taken place in the geography of a manufacturing industry. Similarly, attention could be given to any controversial issue associated with the location of a manufacturing industry in the local area, especially if the issue appeared to be of interest to pupils.

Secondary - years 1 to 3

a. Pupils can be introduced to the idea of a factory as an 'open system' linked by transport to sources of materials, power, labour and other inputs and to markets for their products.

b. Carefully selected case studies of a variety of manufacturing industries can be used to enable pupils:

  • to develop better understanding of the factors affecting the siting and location of industry and the role of key decision makers;
  • to recognise different types of industrial location (eg the attraction to raw materials; to markets; to power sources; to suitable labour; to break of bulk points; industries with demanding site requirements); and
  • to gain some understanding of the distribution of manufacturing industry at different spatial scales (eg within a town, and at regional and national scales).
c. A fairly simple study could be made of changes in the geography of manufacturing over a period of time (eg the growth and decline of particular industries, and changing distribution patterns).

d. Through the various case studies, pupils can be introduced to some of the economic conditions which influence the success

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or failure of manufacturing industries, for example, the importance of an adequate market for the products; and of the capacity of a factory or workshop to deliver products of good quality at a competitive price. Pupils can be helped to understand that location is a factor which affects the cost of production and delivery and, therefore, the prices which can be charged, but that is only one of many factors.

e. Some attention could be given to the economic, social and environmental losses and gains resulting from the location and working practices of manufacturing industry.

Secondary - years 4 and 5

a. During these two years the further extension of pupils' studies, to other examples of manufacturing industry and to other places, should increase the breadth of their knowledge and provide suitable opportunities for reinforcement of previous learning.

b. More important, however, is the opportunity to increase their depth of understanding, by helping them to appreciate more complex relationships and to apply more abstract ideas. At this stage in their education, most pupils are still maturing intellectually. In consequence, they will be able to make significant progress in:

  • analysing the factors which may be involved in locational decisions, including the influence of the geographical perceptions of decision makers;
  • understanding the influence of political decisions and actions on manufacturing industry - including the incentives and disincentives;
  • understanding the distribution of manufacturing industry at national and international scales;
  • understanding the complex web of relationships that can operate in an important industrial region;
  • appreciating the role of manufacturing industry in the economic development of towns, regions and nations, and comparing features of manufacturing industry in different types of economy;
  • appreciating the nature of more difficult controversial issues.

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Throughout the 5 to 16 age range, pupils should be developing ideas, skills and sensibilities. The work in years 4 and 5 should build upon the learning achieved in earlier years and take proper account of advances in pupils' modes of thinking and reasoning.