Planning for progress at primary with the 2014 national curriculum

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Progression is a complicated matter, especially when linked to the technical processes of assessment. Excellent guidance on assessment exists and the principles of AfL still offer a common sense way of monitoring pupil progress, but planning the curriculum comes first.

The Purpose of study and Aims sections of the Programmes of Study can be a very powerful source of reflection on and assessment of the value of the curriculum. They can be used to ask some searching questions of the current curriculum, and employed as a tool to help plan and prioritise changes at the school level. It is worthwhile asking if the current school curriculum meets the criteria set out in this table, adapted from the new Aims and Purpose statements.

Instead of a simple step by step process, it is frequently acknowledged that geography benefits from a spiral approach to curriculum - revisiting places and topics in ways that build depth of knowledge and understanding. The following broad ‘dimensions’ of progress – what it means to ‘get better’ at geography – can be helpful when thinking about both planning and assessment:

  • moving outwards from the familiar to the less familiar
  • acquiring greater fluency with ‘world knowledge’
  • working with increasingly complex and/or abstract ideas and generalisations
  • using data that becomes more multivariate
  • investigating people-environment relations
  • applying geographical thinking to new contexts and situations
  • becoming more precise (in language, ideas, skills), and making distinctions
  • becoming more comfortable with ‘grey areas’ where answers are not so clear cut
  • connecting information and ideas, and building (not just receiving) new knowledge
  • drawing on increasing breadth of content and contexts
  • understanding the importance of perspective, recognising a range of values and views.

Progression also encompasses breadth as well as depth. The curriculum should offer a breadth of experiences that work together to deepen understanding.

Click here for guidance on assessing the national curriculum.


DfE (2013 National Curriculum for England

Ofsted (2013) Ofsted 2012 - 2013 C & D survey report: An Inspection Report on Geography, Hursthead Junior School

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