Geography - Intent, Implementation & Impact

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.  Teaching should equip pupils with knowledge about diverse places, people, resources and natural and human environments, together with a deep understanding of the Earth’s key physical and human processes. As pupils progress, their growing knowledge about the world should help them to deepen their understanding of the interaction between physical and human processes, and of the formation and use of landscapes and environments. Geographical knowledge, understanding and skills provide the frameworks and approaches that explain how the Earth’s features at different scales are shaped, interconnected and change over time.

– National Curriculum – Geography Programmes of Study


Geography is our engagement with not just the formations, processes, and locations of our planet but its people, societies, and cultures. It brings us all together to share, understand, and celebrate our diversity as a species.

The skills and tools which the study of geography provide us give us the ability to observe and to analyse the trends and themes of human society and our symbiotic relationship with our planet and its environment, and to provide us with insights and solutions to the vital issues of today.

Geography is intrinsically intertwined with our scientific understand of our environment, ecosystems, climate and biodiversity, and how that understanding has been applied and misapplied, is applied today, and can be applied by humans in the future.

The intent of teaching geography to young people is to inspire in them an understanding of this interconnectedness between ourselves, our communities, our geological past, our planet, its climate, and its and our collective future.


At Fairlight Primary School, we have worked to theme, group, and link geographic terms, locations and processes firmly with the topics and the scientific enquiries which the children are engaged in in each Year group’s programme of study. Geography becomes the driver of at least one term in every year group, ensuring a high focus on its subject matter and development of its particular skills. It also ensures that the principles and the understanding gained from the study of geography are combined with those of history, RE, and Science, and that each can inform and be informed by the others. 


Geography is comprised of several strands which each approach a different aspect of learning and encourage different skills and thinking processes:

·         Around the World Locational Knowledge – learning about where different places are to be found and their directional relationship to each other is a fascinating and essential practical skill. It begins in the very early years with talking about, drawing, and modelling through play their journey to school, and beginning to visit and become familiar with the location of and routes to school, their homes, and local features. As we go through the school, we begin to broaden this focus from the personal and local to the features of the wider city of Brighton & Hove, the UK, and the world. Locational knowledge can be acquired and enhanced in many places from daily life, but we aim to reinforce key locations via short weekly sessions of class exploration using resources such as Google Earth, songs, Geoguessr, and similar games and quizzes on specific themes such as Rivers of the World or Continents and Oceans. These themes are set out in a whole school timetable by half term for each year group from Early Years to Year 6, and allow for the revisiting of key themes to aid in reinforcement. This approach links with our school emphasis upon memory skills.

·         Understanding of the World – knowing where a place is, is not the same as knowing what a place is or why it is. Therefore, it is vital that we give our pupils opportunities to investigate their local physical area, environment, and human community, as well as those of other places and societies in the UK and the wider world. Through such case studies, our young people can observe and interact, ask questions and make hypotheses concerning how different communities live and how they interact with and are affected by the physical world around them. They get to experience elements of that society, and to form comparisons with the places with which they are already familiar. We emphasise an immersive approach, encouraging direct and physical engagement with world societies and cultures through food, art, language, clothing, and the use of practical role-play to inform our questioning and inquiry. We make use of the diversity and knowledge of our school community, which includes the children themselves and their lived experience of different places around the world. We always emphasise an ethos of mutual understanding and respect for our diversity of cultural experience. 

·         Local to Global perspectives – a strategy recommended by the Geography Association for developing the geographical awareness of young people is to build from their personal experience outwards in sense of location, scale, and impact. We see this in the Early Years, where children begin by exploring the world and locations that they know personally in storytelling, ‘small world’ play, and move on towards exploring local places together beginning with their school and journeys to familiar places. This strategy is embedded within all of our geographical studies as we continue through the school, as we investigate the features of our local area and the impact of certain processes, and expand outwards to a wider region, and the global context.

·         Human geography – Wherever humans have settled, they create communities and societies which interact with and are influenced by each other and by the place in which they develop. We study both aspects of our own community and society, and investigate those of other places around the world. This provides opportunities to find commonalities and relationships, and to see how and why different societies develop. Most importantly, children get to actively explore the interconnections between societies, such as in Years 4 and 5 where they see the contributions and impact of rubbish and pollution around the world and upon the global climate.

·         Physical processes and scientific inquiry – We explore the physical processes of our planet through Geography, and also emphasise the links to science. Year 5 combine geographical inquiry about the climate zones and biomes on Earth with their science unit on Space and the planets of the solar system. This enhances both, leading to deeper investigation into human-caused climate change.

·         A humanistic approach – Geography exists in unison with the other Humanities and the sciences in our Understanding of the World. The understanding of history and religions are also enhanced and strengthened through a solid basis in geographical understanding. Whenever we study a historical society, we also look at the human geography of that society and culture, as well as their relationship with their physical environment.

·         Field Skills – The development of the investigative and practical skills that help us to understand the world around us begins in the Early Years. We explore and express their sense of the world through telling the story of our journeys to familiar places, small world representation of trips to school and shops etc, and ‘comic strips’ of where we go. This develops into pictorial representation of places as a stepping stone into using maps. Older children begin to use and talk about places using maps, globes and computer technology such as Google Earth, as well as making their own plans and maps of places that they visit. Key Stage 2 children get practical experience of using maps with grid references and compasses. Opportunities to visit places in the local area allow us to practice skills such as sketching and the collection of frequency data.



The outcome of teaching Geography at Fairlight Primary and Nursery School is that pupils develop their awareness of the world around them, from their personal experience, to the local environment, to a diversity of locations, and to a global scale. This will enable them to develop a stronger understanding of the interrelationships between places, people, and processes. By developing these skills, our young people will be able to better conceptualise geographical processes and the issues that they create in a wider context, and to see how our actions and those of people around the world have an impact upon people, places, and our planet beyond what we can see at a casual glance in our local area. As this awareness, understanding and skills grow, we want young people at Fairlight to develop an appreciation for our local environments and our global ecosystem and to have the skills necessary to identify and discuss issues. We want them to use their geographical understanding actively, to quite literally, change the world.