Barrowford St Thomas C.E. Primary School

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Wheatley Lane Road, Nelson, Lancashire, BB9 6QT

01282 614462

Barrowford St Thomas C.E. Primary School

Our vision is to be a school where all can flourish and grow in God's love.

  2. Subjects
  3. Geography



We aim to inspire in our pupils a curiosity and fascination about the world and its people that will remain with them for the rest of their lives. We wish to equip our 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.


We aim to ensure that all pupils:

  • 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
  • are 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.


The sequence in KS1 focuses young children to develop a sense of place, scale and an understanding of human and physical geographical features. In KS1, children learn about the purpose and use of sketch maps as well as the key features they need to include. Map skills and fieldwork are essential to support children in developing an understanding of how to explain and describe a place, the people who live there, its space and scale.

Children study the orientation of the world through acquiring and making locational sense of the 7 continents and 5 oceans of the world. They extend their knowledge and study the countries and capital cities of the United Kingdom, along with the oceans and seas that surround us. Further studies support retrieval. The use of maps, globes and atlases is essential to form coherent schemata around the big ideas that explain how we know where a place is, and how to locate it. For our young children, routes and maps can be made concrete in day-to-day experiences in the safety of their school grounds and classrooms.

Throughout KS1, pupils enhance their locational knowledge by studying and identifying human and physical features of places. To deepen this understanding and transfer concepts, our pupils study contrasting locations throughout the world. The location of these areas in the world are deliberately chosen to offer culturally diverse and contrasting places. Pupils study the human and physical features of a non-European location in Africa, such as Nairobi as part of their African Safari topic. This study offers rich opportunities to know, compare and contrast different cultures  using the consistent thread of human and physical features.

Fieldwork and map skills are further developed with a study of our local area, using cardinal points of a compass. Maps are introduced through familiar stories as a way to communicate what the place and space is like. Pupils retrieve and apply knowledge about human and physical features in their local context. OS maps are introduced to pupils in KS1 using Digimap for Schools. Simple keys and features are identified and mapped locally to help begin to understand
place, distance and scale. Pupils study a variety of places including Lytham St Annes; this helps them to connect different geographical concepts and gives them perspectives and opportunities to compare and contrast locations.

Lower KS2 

In lower KS2, fieldwork and map skills are revisited with the intercardinal points of a compass points being introduced to elaborate on the knowledge pupils already have around cardinal points. This substantive and disciplinary knowledge is utilised to support a study of the UK, focusing on regions, counties, landmarks and topography. This study demands analysis and pattern seeking to identify the features of the UK. Further retrieval studies are designed to
support conceptual fluency around physical and human features. Cause and effect are also developed through geographical reasoning. An example of this is the interrelationship between physical terrain of the northern regions of the UK and the lower lands of East Anglia, that are covered in glacial deposits. The children will also undertake a study of Manchester as part of their 'Matchstalk Men' topic. This topic will include a visit to key locations in Manchester.
Further studies are undertaken to elaborate fieldwork and map skills through a sharper focus on OS maps. Pupils elaborate and expand their understanding of human and physical features and apply it to the study of rivers. 

To enable accurate location of places around the globe, pupils study absolute positioning or reference systems through latitude and longitude. Substantive knowledge is acquired and used to apply their new understanding to mapping and locational skills. An in-depth understanding of latitude and longitude is used by pupils throughout KS2.

Pupils study geographical patterns across the world using latitude of locations to explain why
places are like they are. Further river studies revisit substantive knowledge and these are applied to the Amazon River and the River Nile which is a major focus of our Ancient Egypt topic 'Tomb Raiders'. This topic will include a fieldwork visit to a local river and include a river study.

Further fieldwork and map skills are introduced to enrich pupils’ disciplinary knowledge of locations and places. Cultural awareness and diversity are taught specifically within learning modules. Examples include European studies (with a focus on the Wesser region and Hamelin, part of our topic 'Oh Rats!'), as well as studies of countries and people in Africa, and North and South America. A deliberately planned study focusing on the environmental regions of Europe, Russia, and North and South America draws attention to climate regions and is the precursor to studying biomes in UKS2.

Upper KS2

Complementing studies on location and position is the focus on the water cycle as part of their 'Waterworld' topic. It offers explanation and reason about physical processes as well as why certain biomes have specific features in specific global locations.

The study of Biomes and Environmental regions builds upon world locations, latitude and longitude studies. World countries and major cities are located, identified and remembered through deliberate and retrieval practice, such as low stakes quizzing and Two things tasks.

In upper KS2, the study of 4 and 6 figure grid references supports prior learning of reference systems and brings an increased accuracy to mapping and fieldwork skills. Again, this knowledge is designed to be interrelated and connected to the retrieval study of biomes and environmental regions. Terrain is studied through contour lines and OS map skills and fieldwork. More advanced mapping skills using OS maps are studied and applied, with pupils using the
accumulation of knowledge skilfully to analyse distribution and relationships. Route finding and decoding information through maps offers challenge through increasingly complex orienteering and mapping tasks.

Pupils take part in geographical analysis using patterns and comparison of both human and physical processes as well as the features present in chosen locations. This abstract concept is made concrete through studying and comparing the Lake District, the Tatra mountains of Poland and the Blue mountains of Jamaica as part of our 'Mountaineers' topic. This topic will include a fieldwork visit to Brockhole in the Lake District which includes a 'mountains' workshop.

Physical processes such as orogeny and glaciation are acquired to explain significant change over long periods of time. The concept of physical process is revisited through a study of Earthquakes, mountains and volcanoes. This depth study allows pupils the opportunity to have a more sophisticated knowledge of physical processes and make connections about how the environment has been shaped, as a result.

Settlement, trade and economic activities are the focus of a study that draws upon the Windrush generation module in History. This develops an increasing knowledge about migration and the factors that push people away or draw people towards settlements. Within these studies, pupils make relational connections between settlements and physical or human features. Settlements such as ports or major world cities are studied to explain the reasons why certain places are populated and why. Disciplinary knowledge supports pupils to reason and explain the effect of change on a place, drawing on prior substantive knowledge they can retrieve and reuse.


CUSP Geography curriculum

As a key planning and teaching resource from September 2022, we are following the CUSP curriculum for geography. The units within the CUSP curriculum complement the geography curriculum which we have already developed as a school. 

Specific and associated geographical vocabulary is planned sequentially and cumulatively from Year 1 to Year 6. High frequency, multiple meaning words (Tier 2) are taught alongside and help make sense of subject specific words (Tier 3).

In the study of the geography our children increase their substantive knowledge.  This is the subject knowledge and explicit vocabulary used to learn about the content. Common misconceptions are explicitly revealed as non-examples and positioned against known and accurate content as pupils become more expert in their understanding. Misconceptions are
challenged carefully and in the context of the substantive and disciplinary knowledge. In CUSP Geography, it is recommended that misconceptions are not introduced too early, as pupils need to construct a mental model in which to position new knowledge.

Through the CUSP geography curriculum, we have defined substantive concepts that are the suggested vehicle to connect the substantive knowledge. These are defined at the start of every study in the Big Idea.

Locational Knowledge: Where a place actually is found.

Place Knowledge: What a place is like

Human and physical geography: The interactions between people, places and
the environment.

Geographical skills and fieldwork: Using maps, globes and compasses, along
with what you know to explain location, place and human and physical features associated with it.

In the study of the geography, our children also increase their disciplinary knowledge; this is the use of knowledge and how children become a little more expert as a geographer by Thinking Geographically. 

When we think as a geographer, we focus on

  • Place and Space
  • Scale and Connection
  • Physical and human geography
  • Environment and sustainability
  • Culture and diversity (Uniqueness)

We are gradually adapting our medium term plans to reflect the CUSP curriculum.

The Geography Subject Leader is Mrs Lesley Lahey

Geography Policy

What the children should know and remember in geography

Geography Long term plan

Medium Term Plans

Years 1 and 2 Cycle B 2022 - 23

Updated plans reflecting the CUSP curriculum; further medium plans coming soon

Years 3 and 4 Cycle B 2022 - 23

Updated plans reflecting the CUSP curriculum; further medium plans coming soon

Years 5 and 6 Cycle B 2022 - 23

Updated plans reflecting the CUSP curriculum; further medium plans coming soon

Years 1 and 2 Cycle A 

Years 3 and 4 Cycle A

Years 5 and 6 Cycle A