Talk about geography
Revisions to national curriculum geography, though welcome, may have left primary teachers a bit stranded. From an overprescribed and overloaded programme, they must now adjust to an outline of content reduced to the bare bones. Teachers need support to flesh out the bold statements of the revised Order. They need guidance as to appropriate content to make a worthwhile teaching scheme covering six years of primary education.
The Scholastic Curriculum Bank Geography series goes some way to providing such support. There are three books in all, which together cover the range of place, theme and skill requirements for key stages 1 and 2 (England and Wales), and make some attempt (though this is more tenuous) to cross refer to levels A-E of the Scottish programme.
Underpinning the many activities there is good support for teachers in the form of key background information, ideas for extension or extra support, assessment opportunities, and associated photocopiable worksheets. The importance of direct experience, especially through fieldwork, comes through, and opportunities to use IT are identified in many activities. There is encouragement to vary patterns of working so that in different activities pupils work individually, in pairs or small groups, and as a whole class. The importance of talk to underpin writing is reflected in much that is suggested.
The books are full of good ideas and the series fully meets the requirements of a resource bank in range, coverage and variety. It does not claim to provide a sustained course of study, and there remains an important role for the subject coordinator to develop a coherent scheme of work within which to use these resources. Even then, many items would benefit from adaptation to local contexts.
No text series can directly support locality studies in and around your own school. You need to adapt the general ideas. Abstract patterns and processes also need translation into real contexts that your pupils can recognise and relate to. Also, although the study of distant places near and far is fully covered in terms of ideas and approaches, more depth, colour and richness is needed than a resource bank is likely to be able to provide.
The Scholastic Curriculum Bank Geography series will be of most value in schools which have already worked out their own teaching programme and are seeking ways to develop it. Teachers can then select and adapt items to give substance to their teaching.