Geography Skills Progression

Geography Skills Progression

At Derwent Vale Primary and Nursery School, we are committed to providing all pupils with learning opportunities to engage in geography. 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 framework and approaches that explain how the Earth’s features at different scales are shaped, interconnected and change over time.


Our Geography curriculum is broad, balanced and makes strong links with the local area. It equips pupils to become ‘more expert’ with each study and grow an ever broadening and coherent mental model of the subject. This guards against superficial, disconnected and fragmented geographical knowledge. Each module in Geography has a vocabulary module with teacher guidance, tasks and resources.

Our curriculum is planned so that the retention of knowledge is much more than just memorable by the implementation of Bjork’s desirable difficulties, including retrieval and spaced retrieval practice, word building and deliberate practice tasks. This powerful interrelationship between structure and research-led practice is designed to increase substantive knowledge and accelerated learning within and between study modules. This means the foundational knowledge of the curriculum is positioned to ease the load on the working memory: new content is connected to prior learning. This supports opportunities for children to associate and connect with places, spaces, scale, people, culture and processes.

It is our intention that pupils become more expert as they progress through the curriculum, accumulating and connecting substantive and disciplinary geographical knowledge.

  • Substantive knowledge - this is the subject knowledge and explicit vocabulary used to learn about the content
  • Disciplinary knowledge - this considers how geographical knowledge originates and is revised. It is through disciplinary knowledge that children gradually become more expert by thinking like a geographer.

Our Early Years Curriculum is carefully planned and implemented to enable children to achieve the Early Learning Goals (ELGs). Enabling pupils to take on the role of a geographer: exploring, discovering and beginning to make sense of the world around them. Opportunities are provided for pupils to reflect on the events and routines that they and their peers experience as well as providing opportunities to discuss with interest and sensitivity.

In KS1 and KS2 the use of knowledge organisers and knowledge notes for Geography keeps essential information together to guard against split-attention effect. Children are taught to forge connections between their current learning and the ‘big picture’ of subject content. Explicit teaching of vocabulary is central to children’s ability to connect new knowledge with prior learning. Teaching identifies Tier 2 words, high frequency words used across content e.g. verify, and Tier 3 words, specific to subject domains e.g. biome. Spaced retrieval practice, through questioning, quizzes and peer-explanations, further consolidates the transfer of information from working memory to long-term memory. Quizzing etc are primarily learning strategies to improve retrieval practice – the bringing of information to mind.

Examples of Knowledge Organisers and Knowledge Notes:

We have extensive grounds and we use these to ensure fieldwork knowledge and skills are taught practically. Our programme of educational visits within and beyond the locality consolidates children’s knowledge. We believe strongly in the value of learning outside the classroom. As a result, regular enrichment activities are mapped in to our curriculum.


Through our Geography curriculum, our children will become more geographically ‘expert’ with each study and grow a broadening and coherent understanding of the world, ensuring their geographical knowledge is not fragmented. Their Vocabulary, will be specific, precise and used across other contexts, not just within Geography lessons. Teachers will use the information gathered through formative assessment to address gaps and to provide additional challenge for children as required and appropriate. This is most effective when done immediately and at the point of learning.