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Flexibility for geography

HARD on the heels of the publication of the revised national curriculum in November 1999 comes the publication of new geography scheme of work materials. Last month primary schools received an update to the November 1998 Geography scheme of work for key stages 1 and 2.

The new materials include some new units to illustrate approaches to teaching aspects of geography that have been strengthened in the revised curriculum, for example, "Investigating coasts" in KS2, and "Passport to the world" (on locational knowledge) and "Geography and numbers" that span KS1 and 2. An update to the Teacher's Guide describes the changes to the geography curriculum and shows how the published units - new and old - help to meet parts of the revised geography curriculum that may be less familiar.

A geography scheme of work for KS3 will be published and sent to secondary schools in May. Like the primary scheme, it is optional and provides a basis for schools planning their curriculum for 2000 and beyond. It includes a Teacher's Guide and 24 units, 16 of which have been put together in a key stage plan, to show how the requirements of the programme of study may be met.

The KS3 materials were selected for inclusion not just to show how some tried and tested KS3 geography topic may be taught, for example, "Coastal environments, what is development?" and "Shopping - past, present and future", but also to provide some examples of alternative, less traditional topics through which the programme of study may be taught, for example the global fashion industry, world sport and crime in the local area. Other units illustrate new approaches to commonly taught themes, for example Internet earthquakes and virtual volcanoes.

Schools should feel free to use as much or as little of the schemes as they find helpful, adapting any ideas from them to meet the needs and priorities of their school or department. The revised national curriculum offers schools greater flexibility in planning their geography curriculum. The QCADepartment for Education and Employment scheme of work is not designed to reduce that flexibility.

On the contrary, we hope that the schemes will provide a stimulus for schools and departments to develop high quality geography curricula that meet the national curriculum requirements and are well suited to the needs of the pupils for whom they have been devised.

John Westaway and Barbara Jones are principal subject officers for geography for the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority, London. Tel: 020 7509 5555

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