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Teachers’ standards 3: Demonstrate good subject and curriculum knowledge

The headings on this page are the statements in the Teachers’ Standards that all new teachers must meet. The series of questions for each statement are prompts for new geography teachers to think about. They should use these prompts to discuss their training with their geography mentor and evaluate their progress. These questions are not intended to be a further set of ‘standards’ to be met.


To demonstrate good subject and curriculum knowledge in geography, you must do the following:


Have a secure knowledge of the relevant subject(s) and curriculum areas, foster and maintain pupils’ interest in the subject, and address misunderstandings

  • Can I justify why students should learn geography in schools?
  • Do I understand the considerations that a geography department must take account of when designing a geography curriculum?
  • Have I secure geography subject knowledge across all aspects of the subject? Is my knowledge up to date? Am I confident I can answer students’ geographical questions in my lessons?
  • Am I confident to teach substantive and disciplinary geography knowledge to students in the age range for which I am training?
  • Am I developing a repertoire of illustrations, examples, explanations, analogies and demonstrations applicable to a range of geographical topics that I can use in my teaching?
  • Can I identify the essential geographical concepts, knowledge and skills in the topics I teach and know how to teach these explicitly, provide opportunities for students to understand these and revisit them using different examples?
  • Do I always link new ideas I am teaching to students’ existing geographical knowledge?
  • Do I have good geographical skills and know how to develop these in students, including, for example, map and GIS skills, enquiry skills, fieldwork techniques and photo interpretation?
  • Am I confident in my level of geography subject knowledge to teach students up to GCSE or A level in geography? (related to the age-range of your training)
  • Have I a good understanding of the geography National Curriculum and geography examinations at GCSE and A level?
  • Do I understand the expected progress of secondary students in geography and how to sequence teaching to ensure students make good progress?
  • Do I know what are students’ common misunderstandings and misconceptions in geography and how to both avoid them forming and overcome them through teaching?
  • Am I conversant with the effective pedagogical approaches in geography and can use of range of these to teach geography?
  • Do I teach knowledge-rich geography lessons and ensure my lessons always focus on learning geography?
  • Am I an enthusiastic geography teacher who strives to interest all students in the subject?


Demonstrate a critical understanding of developments in the subject and curriculum areas, and promote the value of scholarship

  • Do I have a secure understanding of curriculum developments in geography?
  • Do I read widely around the subject and draw upon scholarship to inform my teaching?
  • Do I know where to find evidence-supported research for teachers, and understand the benefits and limitations of different types of research?
  • Do I make use of professional development opportunities to further my knowledge of geography and geography teaching?
  • Do I know where to find up to date thinking about geography curricula and keep abreast of current pedagogy in geography?
  • Do I know how to promote students’ learning of geographical concepts and encourage them to think geographically and critically?
  • Do I understand how to use an enquiry approach to learning geography?
  • Do I know how to plan and manage fieldwork in geography?
  • Can I develop students’ place and locational knowledge and understanding and their ‘sense of place’?
  • Can I teach students spatial skills and develop their effective use of maps and GIS?
  • Do I understand the importance of debate and critical thinking when teaching about values and issues in geography?
  • Do I know how to improve my students’ understanding of globalisation, cultural diversity, British values?
  • Do I know how to teach human and physical processes and develop students’ understanding of landscape and changing environments?


Demonstrate an understanding of and take responsibility for promoting high standards of literacy, articulacy and the correct use of standard English, whatever the teacher’s specialist subject

  • Do I know how geography can contribute to the development of key skills, especially literacy and numeracy, and strive to improve these when teaching geography?
  • Do I know how geographical skills are relevant to the future workplace and lifelong learning?
  • Do I understand the importance of language and number in teaching geography?
  • Do I promote the use of geographical vocabulary?
  • Am I confident in teaching the mathematics content included in the current geography examination specifications?
  • Do I give students opportunities for extended writing in geography?


Where to find support?

For support in achieving this Standard look at Geography subject teaching and curriculum.

Discuss your subject and curriculum knowledge in geography with your geography mentor. They can advise you how to develop these further and what reading you should do. Talk to other geography teachers about how they keep their subject and professional knowledge up to date.

Teachers’ standards 3: Demonstrate good subject and curriculum knowledge