Return to school: keeping geography alive

Aug 7, 2020

With a new academic year on the horizon, I can see a number of both familiar and less-familiar challenges ahead… How true! If you’d like a quick refresher on how to approach the standard challenges associated with being a geography subject leader, we’d suggest looking at this guide from the Geographical Association (GA) – click through each open access section at the bottom of the page. Otherwise, we’d draw your attention to a couple of pressing matters particular to this moment: keeping geography firmly on the timetable and then adapting the curriculum to ensure you are remaining COVID-secure.

I see. So tell me about the first one. With the return to full-time schooling beckoning, the government’s guidance reminds schools that they should “teach an ambitious and broad curriculum in all subjects”. However, in the short-term, there may well be an understandable tendency to focus on core subjects at the expense of the foundation subjects. It will be your job to fight hard to keep geography on the timetable.

You’re making me nervous! How do I do that? Fear not, there are a couple of approaches you could take:

  • Firstly, why not adapt your geography curriculum so that it actively supports English, maths and science recovery? While this may come at the expense of some meatier geographical skills, it is certainly feasible in the short-term
  • Secondly, focus on the role geography can play in helping children (and staff) process their recent experiences. Help children to explore how COVID-19 has impacted human and physical geography on a global scale. On a local level, encourage children to think about potential human and physical changes they might see in their area after the coronavirus – why not develop a whole school local area geography project on the lockdown itself? The Geographical Association (GA) has a series of links to data and other resources which may be of interest
  1. I can do that. Now, how do we ensure we’re COVID-secure? Can we still head out and do geography fieldwork? You can. DfE guidance states that “non-overnight domestic educational visits” are fine, and suggests schools should be using local outdoor spaces to support curriculum delivery. You will, however, need to ensure that:
  • Children continue to stay within their ‘bubble’ group
  • Your destination has appropriate COVID-secure measures in place
  • You include any necessary control measures in your normal trip risk assessment

Will our insurance cover a trip out? Probably. Have a look at these FAQs for schools from the Association of British Insurers (ABI) and check directly with your own insurer.

And what about using geographical equipment and atlases? Again, this should be fine, as long as you take suitable precautions. As the DfE explains:

“Classroom based resources, such as books and games, can be used and shared within the bubble; these should be cleaned regularly… Resources that are shared between classes or bubbles… should be cleaned frequently and meticulously and always between bubbles, or rotated to allow them to be left unused and out of reach for a period of 48 hours (72 hours for plastics) between use by different bubbles.”

In a nutshell… Getting geography back on track is important – don’t let COVID-19 side-line your geographical adventures.

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