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We take inspiration from the Geographical Association and their Manifesto for Geography, (A Different View), believing that there are few things more fundamental than learning about ‘the earth as our home’. Through their study of geography, we aim to:  ​

  • Provide students with the means to think about the world in new ways – ‘thinking like a geographer’.
  • Provide students with the geographical knowledge they need to understand contemporary challenges facing our planet and to live their lives as knowledgeable citizens – aware of their own local communities in a global setting.
  • Provide students with the means to (and necessary knowledge to) question and debate the knowledge; such that they have the skills to be active participants and investigators, rather than passive recipients of knowledge.
  • Expose students to geographical enquiry – allowing them to deepen their conceptual understanding through undertaking fieldwork.

GG QMGeography Association Quality Marks reward and promote high quality geography in primary and secondary schools.

The rigour of the Geography department in leading Teaching and Learning and ensuring students make accelerated progress has been recognised by the Geography Association.  Dr Bowden and her team have been awarded the quality mark for Geography which recognises and rewards their efforts in developing and promoting a high quality Geography curriculum in Pilton.


What is a Geography Quality Mark?

  • The Geography Quality Marks are prestigious awards which recognise and promote quality and progress in geography leadership, curriculum development and learning and teaching in schools
  • The primary and secondary Quality Mark Frameworks incorporate the key messages of Ofsted’s 2019 Inspection Framework, supporting schools to develop a curriculum with high quality intent, implementation and impact.
  • It is highly valued by school leaders nationally and internationally, allowing the dissemination and celebration of standards and geographical learning.
  • It is a process of powerful self-evaluation and reflection, asking: ‘What is geography like in our school?’, ‘How do we know?’ and ‘What can we do to improve standards?’
  • It raises the profile of geography across the whole school community, with parents, teachers, governors and students.
  • It provides opportunities to engage in collaborative critical reflection of teaching, learning and subject leadership
  • It is impactful and rigorous CPD which meets the 2016 standard for teachers’ professional development and has been quality assured as part of the Welcome Trust and Education Endowment Fund commissioned CPD QA pilot.
  • It has a proven track record with over 1500 successful Geography Quality Mark schools forming an international network supported by the GA.

“A high-quality geography education should inspire in pupils a curiosity and fascination about the world and its people that will remain with them for the rest of their lives. ”

DfE (2013) The national curriculum in England. London DfE

Key Stage 3

Our students come from a range of different backgrounds with varying degrees of exposure to geographical knowledge and skills. Therefore, our KS3 curriculum does not assume that KS2 knowledge, particularly skills, has been acquired. It has been purposefully designed to check and consolidate geographical understanding, before extending and refining into KS3.  Whilst our KS3 follows the National Curriculum, our overriding aim for this stage is that students engage with the key issues facing the world today. We don’t shy away from teaching about pertinent moral issues e.g. conflict in Yemen or the creation of climate change refugees in Tuvalu. Our curriculum should be viewed as a serial. It has a deep storyline and a deep structure underpinned by six key Geographical concepts or ‘characters’. These are – sustainability, climate change, development, interdependence, risk, and the danger of a single story.

Every time students encounter a ‘character’ their understanding grows.

Key Stage 4

At KS4 students continue to encounter and thus deepen their knowledge of the ‘characters’ through studying the AQA Geography GCSE specification. Essential knowledge and skills are developed both in and out of the classroom. Careful consideration has been paid to the optional elements of the course, choosing a multiplicity of areas around the world to inspire and encourage students to look beyond North Devon. Through our rich and varied curriculum, we hope that as many students as possible continue in their study of geography. For some of our students, KS4 provides the platform for more advanced studies, establishing the basis for a wide range of careers. For others, it will be their last formal study of subjects that provide the foundations for understanding the natural world and will enhance their lives in an increasingly complex society. .


Vocabulary is explicitly taught to improve this vocabulary deficit.  All topics will have a topic overview which clearly explains to students what they need to know; how they will be assessed and the key vocabulary they’ll be taught during the unit. This is complemented by a key word reminder at the start of all lessons.


Geography offers several enrichment activities which include:

  • UK Polar Network Antarctica Flag competition 
  • Eden Project Climate Change workshop.
  • Met Office Science camp.
  • Links to ‘Geog jobs’ made in lessons

Opportunities for retrieval and recall across Year 7-11 

  • All lessons begin with ‘Do It Now’ retrieval tasks.
  • The curriculum is spiral for design, allowing students to return to topics within a year, across years and across key stages, consolidating their existing knowledge and developing enhanced schemas via the learning of new knowledge. Six key concepts which are interweaved across the curriculum, give students the opportunity to recall and enhance their understanding.
  • Assessments are cumulative rather than terminal, to encourage ongoing retrieval and processing of key knowledge and skills. Knowledge organisers, and recall quiz home learning tasks, support this.

Departmental Interventions: support and challenge

The department has an HLTA used for specific lesson-based intervention, and the department is part of the Year 11 PTI programme.

A common curriculum is used in KS3 to support non-specialist teachers and to ensure that students in the Satellite Provision can maintain curriculum breadth by studying geography.

Curriculum Documents

Year 7 Geography Curriculum Plan

Year 8 Geography Curriculum Plan

Year 9 Geography Curriculum Plan

Year 10 & Y11 Geography Curriculum Plan

The Geography department's SEND learner experience.

Planning – Curriculum Level  

  • When planning our schemes of work, we ensure (where possible) that there are links to recent geographical events, contemporary issues and nearby locations. This ensures that we build on existing schemas of knowledge, reducing the extent to which the lesson is unnecessarily adding to extraneous load, and builds confidence in learners that they have a frame of reference.  Put simply, we are trying to make the subject less abstract to our learners and help them ‘think like a Geographer’. 

  • Our curriculum is a spiral curriculum that links forward and back across years and key stages. This interleaving of topics, which is signposted to students, helps consolidate learning and strengthen their schemas. Each lesson begins with a retrieval do it now task which supports this strategy.   

  • Linked to this is our cumulative assessment model. KS3 tests have the same structure, and scaffolded (via I do, we do, you do) feedback lesson, each time. KS4 is slightly different but the same principles apply.  

  • KS3 students are supported to succeed via the provision of a dual-coded knowledge organiser and ‘how to revise’ revision videos.  

  • KS4 students are supported to succeed via the utilisation of Seneca and revision channels on Teams.  

  • Supporting literacy 

  • We ensure that all tasks are modelled, with students given support to ‘start’ their work e.g. sentence starters, structure strips, writing frames 

  • To support extended writing, we have a number of writing strategies that we practise and return to time and time again (e.g. CLOCC, CATT, Hands, TEA and GCSE) to build routine and strengthen schemas 

  • Where reading activities are used in lessons, we support students by using guided reading activities. Where differentiating resources for students with very low reading ages we use websites to check that the reading age of the text is accessible. Students also have access to reading overlays.  

  • During department meetings we discuss pupils with SEND to ensure they are making progress. To ensure we respond to their needs effectively we discuss adaptations needed for upcoming resources, evaluate our teaching strategies and share best practices and resources.  

Planning – Class Teacher Level  

  • When planning lessons, we use pupil passports and IEP documents to ensure our pupils individuals needs are known about and correct strategies/resources are used. We will also contact necessary members of staff to discuss these where we see an issue, or want additional advice or strategies.  

  • Within the classroom we have a set seating plan for each class to enable us to easily identify pupils with SEND. This document, annotated to show needs, can be easily passed to visitors to the classroom. We can discuss how the seating plan has been planned to ensure positive outcomes and timely support. 

  • We regularly check class charts to check for changes to individual needs and refresh our memories of required strategies. This ensures that we know our pupils and how their learning experience is evolving; they are not a fixed entity and nor is their provision 

Lesson Resources  

  • Lesson Power Points follow a standard format in terms of format and structure to build an accessible routine in learners.  

  • Format: dyslexia friendly font (e.g. century gothic), blue background, ‘decluttered’ slides which use icons rather than photographs where possible to remove extraneous load. 

  • Structure: do it now, ‘home page’ for lesson (including title, date, lesson objectives, keywords, and link), learning journey, lesson content (including clear written instructions, extension tasks in a yellow box, modelling of task e.g. via I do/We do/You do, or WAGOLL)   

  • The Geography department is increasingly inspired by cognitive load theory and we are methodically updating resources to remove extraneous load caused by design, and striving to dual code instructions. This is an ongoing process.  

  • Lesson handouts are clear and uncluttered, with extra care taken to remove superfluous detail in any differentiated version. Much like the point above, this area is a work in progress, with our resources being methodically updated.  

  • Full lesson resources are provided to non-specialists so their focus can be planning to meet the needs of their students. We provide some generic SEND resources but the onus is on the class teacher to use their professional judgement to make resources that meet the needs of their learners.  

Entry Routine 

  • We use routine and procedure to ensure all pupils know what to expect. Lessons begin in a routine fashion that learners expect and know. This incorporates preparing for entrance to the classroom, entrance to the classrooms, collection of materials and commencing with the DIN task. This reduces anxiety around change and the unknown and is thus supportive of students with diagnosed and undiagnosed ASD. [This also extends to a standard exit routine unique to each teacher]. 

  • Thresholding is used to welcome students into the classroom with a positive comment, ensuring all pupils feel welcome. Students are referred to as ‘geographers’ collegiate feel to the lesson!  

  • A do it now task is displayed when students arrive with clear instructions and scaffolding that supports students that need task management. This ensures that students can independently get started on a task and aim for success.  

  • Where pupils are struggling to start the do it now task, this is noticed swiftly via our use of ‘radar’ and ‘be seen looking’ and we quickly support them in a positive way. This ensures 100% compliance and that valuable time is not lost. 

  • Feedback is provided to the do it now task to enable pupils to identify their successes and correct their mistakes.  

During Teaching  

  • We teach in decluttered classrooms with a clear front wall (with the exception of maps which are a crucial learning aid for our subject) to reduce sensory overload.  

  • We teach using resources (Power Points and handouts) adhering to the principles of cognitive load theory.  

  • Student success is scaffolded through task instructions, 1:1 support and where appropriate, differentiated resource sheets. Care is taken in their design to ensure that students are challenged by them. Furthermore, we plan for their withdrawal to prevent a reliance upon their use.  

  • We use the learning at Pilton model techniques to engage all pupils; including, 100%, radar, and circulation to ensure all pupils understand the task.  

  • AFL strategies are used throughout the lesson to check understanding and identify misconceptions 

  • When using cold call we pre warn identified pupils or use our circulation to pre check for accurate responses. This ensures we are building self-esteem and setting them up for success NOT failure.  

  • We communicate clearly with our TA's to ensure they understand how they can best support the learning, making time to seek their advice for selected pupils.  

  • We communicate upcoming changes to the learning environment (e.g. group work or presentations) that might detrimentally affect students. Students are given options (e.g. to learn in a different environment) and empowered to make their own choice.   

  • When unknown or new individual needs show themselves during a lesson we communicate this to SENDCo. It helps to have a history of need and gives us the ability to act quickly when gaps appear.  

  • We seek opportunities to praise our students wherever possible to build esteem and confidence in their learning.  

After Lessons  

  • Whilst marking is not done after every lesson, when work is marked the feedback provided will be clear and concise with understandable and easily actionable EBI tasks provided to ensure progress can be made.  

  • For whole class feedback tasks where students are expected to take notes a copy will be provided to SEND students where appropriate to ensure the focus not becomes about hurried copying down, but about the content of the message.  

  • We are reflective practitioners and reflect upon how things could be done differently next time to better support our students.  

Subject Documents Date  
Geography Learning Journey 06th Jul 2022 Download
Geography Award Quality Mark Certificate 14th Sep 2022 Download