In an ever-changing world, we must be able to make sense of the challenges that we face and suggest ways to resolve them, to create a sustainable future for us all.  (Hatwood, 2019)


At Smarden, we aim to teach children to think geographically.  But what does this mean?  Learning to think geographically requires employing three threads of geographical knowledge together.

  • Propositional knowledge – knowing what and where, and learning the vocabulary for naming features, goods, routes and places.  This means facts and information such as knowing what a road or lake is, where and what are the local shops, names of places, countries and capitals and what some places are known for, such as tourism or agriculture. 
  • Substantive knowledge – the how and why of the world.  This knowledge helps us to group, classify, connect, explain and make sense of facts and information about the environment and places.  This knowledge provides a deeper level of understanding and forms the basis for investigating and explaining the geographical range and vitality of the world.  This type of knowledge encourages the development of perspective.
  • Procedural knowledge – this means applying our propositional and substantive knowledge appropriately so that we can think geographically.  These are the big ideas or key concepts that run through Geography. 

Geography's Big ideas

We are aware of the school’s unique physical and cultural location.  We are a small, rural and mainly farming community, in the heart of the beautiful Kent countryside.  We aim to provide a geography curriculum that is relevant to the children’s lives.  It starts from what they know and moves on to consider national and international issues.  We want pupils to appreciate the beauty of their surroundings and learn to safeguard the environment in which we live.  It is important that pupils have opportunities to consider how the environmental impact of human actions can be minimised and understand food, farming and local issues.

However, Smarden is also geographically and culturally tucked far away from the rest of the world.  The aim of the Geography curriculum therefore is to bring the world to Smarden’s pupils, to broaden their horizons, to show them contrasting localities, to allow opportunities to develop cultural understanding and diversity.  Only through opening their eyes to the rest of the planet, will pupils truly appreciate the importance of fighting for their way of life.

Geography has a number of positive outcomes for pupils at Smarden.  It:

  • Extends pupils' experience and awareness beyond the personal to the wider world.  Pupils become increasingly knowledgeable about the world, are more widely informed and can reflect more deeply.
  • Encourages pupils to think in new ways about their own context and the world.  Through geography studies pupils can draw on, address, challenge, and think beyond their current experience and views of the world.
  • Enables pupils to describe, analyse, explain, understand and appreciate the world.  They begin to apply learning from one context to another and ask more incisive and critically thoughtful questions.
  • Gives pupils access to discussions and debates about local, national and global events, concerns and issues, and develop their own values. It fosters their involvement and potential contribution as citizens.  At Smarden, we aim to grow leaders who will change the world.
  • Empowers pupils through their application of geographical thinking.  They apply their own perspective to understand what is happening in the world alongside supporting actions to create a better world for all.


The three aspects of pupils’ achievements in geography:

  • Contextual world knowledge of locations, places and geographical features.
  • Understanding of the conditions, processes and interactions that explain features and distributions, patterns and changes over time and space.
  • Competence in geographical enquiry, the application of skills in observing, collecting, analysing, mapping and communicating geographical information.


What does progress in these three aspects of achievement look like? 

  • Demonstrating greater fluency with world knowledge by drawing on increasing breadth and depth of content and contexts.
  • Extending from the familiar and concrete to the unfamiliar and abstract.
  • Making greater sense of the world by organising and connecting information and ideas about people, places, processes and environments.
  • Working with more complex information about the world, including the relevance of people’s attitudes, values and beliefs.
  • Increasing the range and accuracy of investigative skills, and advancing their ability to select and apply these with increasing independence to geographical enquiry

Smarden Field Work

Geography is all around us, and even in the simplest of daily activities pupils can learn Geography and act as Geographers.  'Geography is the subject that knits together people and the planet and at a time when we see how intrinsic that link is, and why sustainability matters, it's never been clearer cut. Give your children a curiosity, a love of finding out how and why our planet is as it is, a love of their bit of the world they see every day when they step outside home.' (Greening, 2016, p.19)  Geography is the only subject that has multiple ways of empowering children to re-imagine the future of the world.


Ideas of how to help your child with learning Geography

Watch the news and discuss features.  Encourage your children to be critical thinkers by asking questions about what they have seen or heard.  How trustworthy are the sources and are there opposing views that have not been considered?

Websites and ideas for Geography learning at home

HES Home Learning - Primary Geography