Key Stage 3 Support

Whether you are a teacher educator, student teacher or a teacher, we hope that the following thoughts are helpful to you. Since February 2013 a group of geography educators have been meeting to discuss some of the opportunities and dilemmas associated with the National Curriculum 2014 proposals for geography. They have done this as volunteers. We have met under the banner of an ‘Expert Group’, however we would wish to present ourselves as informed, experienced and passionate teachers who are seeking to share our expertise rather than to present a singular expert view. We would wish to encourage you to use and work with the thinking that we offer, rather than passively accept it.

Our work is simply a small contribution to the advice and support that teachers and schools will seek and benefit from. We have written a series of overview pieces and guidance pieces.  The overview pieces offer a background narrative. The guidance pieces offer examples of disciplined thinking that we hope will enable you to interpret the National Curriculum Framework at Key Stage 3.

We would like to refer you to our ‘Curriculum Making for All’ page before you access our Key Stage 3 specific guidance pieces. Our curriculum making advice encourages all teachers to ‘make the curriculum’ and to consider which aspects of geography are most appropriate to explore at a particular time with your particular class of learners.

We would also like to invite you to browse the Key Stage 1 and 2 advice pages. You may wish to share these materials with your primary colleagues. Additionally some of the ideas here may be helpful to non-specialist Key Stage 3 colleagues who are looking to develop their understanding of geography.

One of the key discussions that we have engaged in as a group, centred on how we ensure that the distinctive discipline of geography is transparent in every lesson. How would a visitor to your classroom know that the lesson was one intended to develop geographical understanding rather than history or citizenship? Of course many lessons will have strong inter-disciplinary links, but we are mindful that if its a geography lesson, then developing geographical thinking should be the emphasis. This next piece, where is the geography?’ explores these ideas further.

This purpose and aims document is but one example from one school  as to how they foreground the  key geographical ideas that are to be developed in a scheme of work for Year 9 on resource depletion and management.  Further examples of resources that have been collated under the banner of the Global Learning Programme can be found at:

Global Dimension

GA – Global Learning Programme

RGS – Global Learning Programme

As you move from the 2007 National Curriculum document which foregrounded geographical concepts, to the 2014 National Curriculum Framework there are a number of careful curriculum choices that you will be involved in making. The following guidance piece considers some of the dilmmas associated with linking systematic geography and locational knowledge within Key Stage 3.  Deciding where to study is a central debate for geography teachers. We hope that this piece on factors to consider when selecting example geographical locations might provide a useful set of prompts to aid your discussions.  In addition, the Geographical Association has some useful guidance within their resources section on Where will I live? – Places Studies.  Further references can be found at Making my places in the world project.

Whilst we strongly believe that all geography teachers and geography educators should aim to write and renew their own curriculum and resources to match the needs of their own school context, we recognise the value of having a rich bank of resources to draw from when engaging in curriculum design.   The Royal Geographical Society has a range of interactive and online resources and other support which can be found here RGS – Resources.  The Geographical Association also has many resources to support key stage 3, which can be found at GA – KS3 Resources.

We would very much welcome your further thoughts and insights as to what you perceive to be some of the key dilemmas when interpreting the 2014 National Curriculum Framework at Key Stage 3 and we look forward to sharing further insights and support with you over the coming months.

Finally, it will be vital to consider how students improve their geographical repertoire over time.  One start point might be to view the  Progression statement in Geography.  The Geographical Association have produced an overarching statement on ‘how students become better at Geography’ documented within their  GA Assessment flyer.  Further support can be accessed on their website at Geographical Association – National Curriculum and Assessment and Geographical Association – National Curriculum.



The Naze cliffs, Walton on the Naze, Essex
Source: Becky Copus (2015)

5 thoughts on “Key Stage 3 Support

  1. Pingback: Using this site. | Interpreting the 2014 Geography National Curriculum Framework.

  2. We would welcome either feedback on the advice offered on this site, or if there is something that you would like to contribute, or to suggest that we might like to develop further, then we would be pleased to hear from you

    • Stephen Schwab says:

      I am keen to be involved with this welcome initiative in any constructive way I can.
      please contact me asap. I have HoD, county adviser, GA consultant & GA SPC member experience. all the best.

  3. I like the support being given here – however technically the hyperlinks are hard to find/distinguish (a colour problem in the WordPress site).
    My main suggestion is that advice ought to extend to the use of geographical media and new technologies in geography. I couldn’t find any mention of this.
    Geographical (geo)-media offers real value added to curriculum development and helps embrace enquiry and connect to subject-specific and transferable ICT skills.
    The digital-earth web site provides some examples of guidance for schools, teachers and teacher trainers. Also a database of more than 2000 geo-media technology developments (maps, data, tools, apps, curriculum materials, lessons etc.).

  4. Adam Lawson says:

    Dear All,
    Glad to see an expert group be setup to help schools though Curriculum Change.
    When a new National Curriculum/GCSE or A Level specification is released support in some form has always been offered. KS3 wise…

    The QCA provided some schemes of work :

    Next time round the Action Plan for Geography:

    This time…

    I would like to see resource provision to be put to one side and a focus on tools to allow Geography departments to build their own curriculum.
    With now over half the state schools in the UK not having to follow the National Curriculum I am not sure how relevant support for the new NC is. Of course some schools will be required to follow it but perhaps than follow the examples above we could encourage these departments within the NC framework to plan with the freedom that those in academies have the opportunity to do so.

    Best of luck,

    Adam Lawson
    Homewood School

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