Learning about the world we live in

Geography is about opening the world up to our children, making them think about where places are and how the world functions and is connected. Children learn how the world has developed and changed over time not just in terms of the physical processes but also how interaction with the planet has altered its trajectory. They learn to think like geographers, able to look at the world and ask: How have the processes of this planet come together physically to create that aspect I am looking at? How have human actions affected the planet? What might this look like in the future?

How we cover the Geography curriculum year by year


Our aim is not only for children to wonder and be inspired but to learn to ask thoughtful geographical questions and to be excited and intrigued in finding the answers. We build on the knowledge of the immediate world in the UK acquired in Key Stage 1 and apply it to areas such as Europe, North and South America and make links between their lives here in Bristol and those faraway places.

Children are introduced to a range of physical geographical features such as the water cycle and rivers; mountains and volcanoes; climate zones and vegetation belts. They are also introduced to aspects of human geography such as settlement, industry, trade and the distribution of natural resources. They think about how landscapes have been shaped and will continue to change because of both natural and human influences and how the landscapes have impacted on human life.

Our aim is also that children can look at other curriculum areas through a geographical lens, thinking about how geography can help give context to their learning. It is like a jigsaw puzzle where pupils assemble the concepts that they’ve learned over time.


The National Curriculum states that at KS2 children should:

  • develop contextual knowledge of the location of globally significant places – both terrestrial and marine – including their defining physical and human characteristics and how these provide a geographical context for understanding the actions of processes
  • understand the processes that give rise to key physical and human geographical features of the world, how these are interdependent and how they bring about spatial variation and change over time
  • be competent in the geographical skills needed to:
    • collect, analyse and communicate with a range of data gathered through experiences of fieldwork that deepen their understanding of geographical processes
    • interpret a range of sources of geographical information, including maps, diagrams, globes, aerial photographs and Geographical Information Systems (GIS)
    • communicate geographical information in a variety of ways, including through maps, numerical and quantitative skills and writing at length.

At Henleaze we strive to provide opportunity to:

  • develop critical thinking skills by adopting an enquiry-based approach, either by designing their own enquiry question for investigation or considering a well-designed question provided by their teacher.
  • input into the planning of their topics, reflecting their own interests, heritage and experiences.
  • develop their self-confidence and sense of belonging.
  • apply their geographical skills and knowledge to a wide range of contexts outside of geography lessons
  • most importantly, enjoy geography and finding out about the world around them.  

Planning and delivery

Whilst a topic-based approach is taken at HJS, geography skills have been mapped across the school to ensure curriculum coverage and progression. Teachers use this HJS progression of skills document as a basis for planning the geography lessons for their year group. In addition to this, children are given the chance to input into their learning, telling teachers what they know already about a topic and what they would like to find out. Teachers will adjust their ideas based on this pupil voice. Teachers will also ensure that an enquiry approach is taken to most of the lessons in the sequence and will ensure that links are made with prior learning.

All children will experience explicit map work lessons each year and will be exposed to digital maps, such as Google Earth. Fieldwork is largely undertaken in the school grounds but in addition to this, children will undertake a land use survey of Henleaze Road in Year 3 and a survey at home in Year 5, examining links with the tropical rainforests.

There is no expectation for time allocated to geography each week as the focus of the topic may vary between history and geography. However, the minimum teaching content expectation is set down in the progression of skills document.

Cross curricular links

Geography provides many opportunities to link with the wider curriculum. Our topic-based approach to delivering the humanities curriculum means that children will be thinking about place and location outside of formal geography lessons, such as learning about rivers whilst learning about the Ancient Egyptians in Year 3 or volcanoes when learning about The Romans in Year 4.

Children will also encounter geographical content when learning about the wider curriculum, from investigating world religions in RWV to different musical heritages in music. Children will also encounter geographical ideas in assemblies, thinking starters and explicitly through our link with Kasongoire Primary School in Uganda.

Geography offers a great opportunity to apply mathematical, reading and writing skills in a meaningful context and geography topics are often used as a stimulus for learning in the core curriculum. Topic talks, particularly in upper Key Stage 2, often use geographical ideas as a start point for children’s own research and the development of speaking and listening skills.

Equal opportunities and inclusion

Geography provides an inclusive platform. We aim for the curriculum to cover a range of global cultures, to give equal prominence to the work of significant men and women, and to reflect the lived experience of the people in our community.

All pupils share the same statutory entitlement to a broad, balanced and differentiated curriculum regardless of the ability, gender and cultural background. We plan our geography lessons to facilitate the learning of all pupils as individuals with differing needs, backgrounds, experiences and expectations. Children with SEND may be provided with adult support, an expectation of differentiated outcomes or, where needed, differentiated worksheets and varied appropriate equipment.

Geography fosters important attitudes such as critical thinking, empathy, awareness of the world around them and problem-solving.  Children will work individually and as part of a team which will build a sense of belonging, self-esteem and positive wellbeing. These are all valuable life skills for children of all abilities.