Horsforth Newlaithes

At Horsforth Newlaithes Primary School. We aim to provide a Geography curriculum that is centred on the children in our school, our Horsforth location and the diverse backgrounds of our staff and children. This personalised approach allows the children to develop geographical knowledge, skills and understanding by building on their own knowledge, surroundings, backgrounds and experiences. We recognise that to make learning real we need to base as much learning as we can on the environment that surrounds our children on a day to day basis.

We seek for children to observe similarities and differences through comparison, rather than judgement. They will do this through hands-on study of our school setting and local area, thereby developing fieldwork and mapping and locational skills as a matter of course. They will relate this learning to deeper studies of other parts of the word, notably Europe, North America and South America.

The curriculum is designed so that children can ask the right questions and develop ways to explore and answer their questions. We will help them make connections and links in their learning and develop secure schemas that can be built on in successive years. They will learn to interrogate places, graphs and tables and pictures to find out about human and physical geography.

Curriculum breadth is shaped by our curriculum drivers, cultural capital, subject topics and our ambition for students to study the best of what has been thought and said by many generations of academics and scholars.

Our curriculum distinguishes between subject topics and ‘threshold concepts’. Subject topics are the specific aspects of subjects that are studied. Threshold concepts tie together the subject topics into meaningful schema Investigate Places, Investigate Patterns and Communicate Geographically are the Threshold Concepts in geography. The same concepts are explored in a wide breadth of topics. Through this ‘forwards-and-backwards engineering’ of the curriculum, students return to the same concepts over and over and gradually build understanding of them.

Knowledge categories in each subject give students a way of expressing their understanding of the threshold concepts. Human features, physical features, location and diversity are the knowledge categories we are using in geography.

In each year, children will cover subject topics based on local geography, a contrasting locality, an aspect of physical geography and geographical skills. A variety of knowledge categories are worked into each subject topic. Links can therefore be made as the children progress right through the school, not just within a milestone.

The goal for students is to display sustained mastery at the ‘advancing’ stage of understanding by the end of each milestone, rather than each year. Each subject topic is therefore taught over two years as a spiral curriculum. Learning is revisited, strengthened and deepened over time. This allows children to develop secure schemas over two years of study and allows their learning to move from basic, to advancing to deep.

Each subject topic is taught on a fortnightly cycle, interleaved with history. Our children’s learning is scaffolded by spaced retrieval practice.

Because learning is a change to long-term memory it is impossible to see impact in the short-term.

We do, however use probabilistic assessment based on deliberate practise. This means that we look at the practices taking place to determine whether they are appropriate, related to our goals and likely to produce results in the long-run.

This is founded on open and challenging discussions between colleagues in milestone groups, key stages and across the whole staff team. These discussions are evidenced by children’s thoughts, discussions, actions and recorded work.

We use comparative judgement in two ways: in the tasks we set and in comparing a student’s work over time. POP (Proof of Progress) tasks are woven into the medium- and short-term planning. These are tasks that encourage retrieval for the child and allow the teacher an insight into the depth of a child’s understanding.

We continually informally assess all work in order to inform teaching and learning as the unit develops. At the end of a year, we make a summary judgement of the work of each pupil in relation to the expected learning goals of knowledge, skills and understanding. We record the attainment of children working towards, meeting and working at greater depth. A summary of children’s work will be formally reported on to parents once during the year and may be discussed at the parents’ evening



Threshold Concepts Knowledge Categories

Investigate places

Investigate patterns

Communicate geographically

Human features

Physical features

Location (Maps)



Click here to download our intent statement for geography

Click here to download our long plan plan for geography

Click here to download our skills progression document for geography