The 2014 national curriculum for geography

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Introducing the new national curriculum

Over time this section will grow and develop to support all teachers of geography in interpreting the national curriculum. It will provide professional guidance and support on a range of aspects including; reviewing and evaluating current practice, identifying new content, knowledge and understanding, teaching approaches and resources and managing change.

The new national curriculum is now available for first teaching in schools from September 2014. This applies to maintained schools in England only; NOT academies or free schools.

The current curriculum has been disapplied and schools can start making changes now.

Download the national curriculum here and the geography programmes of study here.

What has changed?

  • This is a new approach to a national curriculum document. It is concise and sets out only the core knowledge that students should acquire. It does not specify approaches to teaching, nor explain how to put the content into a teaching and learning sequence.
  • There is renewed emphasis on locational and place knowledge, human and physical processes and some technical procedures, such as using grid references.
  • There is a renewed commitment to fieldwork and the use of maps, as well as written communication.
  • The Level Descriptors which made up the Attainment Target have been removed. Schools are free to devise their own curriculum and assessment system.
  • Change in Wales - Wales is also embarking on its own review of the national curriculum. The national consultation is due to be launched soon. The immediate challenges focus on the National Literacy and Numeracy Framework (NLNF) which affects key stages 2 and 3 from September 2013. NLNF requires all teachers to embed literacy and numeracy skills within their subject teaching with the aim of raising achievement throughout the country.

FAQs >>>

Run up to the 2014 national curriculum


DfE Schools White Paper - The importance of teaching

Understanding the new policy environment. A Think Piece by (former) GA Chief Executive and Professor David Lambert


The DfE set up a National Curriculum review and call for evidence.

In response to the DfE's call for evidence, the GA submitted its response

The GA published draft curriculum proposals and a rationale. A consultation was set up to comment on the proposals with a deadline of October.

DfE The Framework for the National Curriculum – a report by the Expert Panel and a summary report of the call for evidence were published by the DfE. The GA geography curriculum consultation report was published as a full report and as a summary.


September - December
The GA's curriculum proposals were the Association's attempt to identify the core knowledge and understanding that all pupils should be expected to acquire in the course of their schooling. They were in response to the 2010 White Paper ‘The Importance of Teaching’, which stated that 'The National Curriculum should set out clearly the core knowledge and understanding that all children should be expected to acquire in the course of their schooling'. However, the Association made it clear that the essential core is not all that pupils should be taught. There were four accompanying documents which consisted of:

  • A paper on 'Thinking Geographically' intended to promote discussion and help teachers reflect on what it means to 'think geographically' and why this is important
  • Aims and key stage 'outcomes statements' showing how students progress through the key stages as they develop their ability to think geographically
  • Key stage content and guiding questions for each key stage, showing the core requirement. This was intended to be read like a course 'specification', and form the basis for a school's schemes of work
  • Content Examplars providing a broad description of the content and associated assessment indicators

The GA then consulted nationally upon these proposals in the autumn term through an online questionnaire and forum. We received around 200 responses which were overwhelmingly positive/supportive and published the findings of this consultation in the form of a feedback report.


GA feedback on the DfE's final draft of the new geography National Curriculum programmes of study and attainment targets was published

The new national curriculum was announced


New national curriculum begins

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helen crowther Guest


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