National curriculum in England: geography programmes of study (2022)

National curriculum in England: geography programmes of study (1)

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Purpose of study

A high-quality geography education should inspire in pupils a curiosity and fascination about the world and its people that will remain with them for the rest of their lives. Teaching should equip pupils with knowledge about diverse places, people, resources and natural and human environments, together with a deep understanding of the Earth’s key physical and human processes. As pupils progress, their growing knowledge about the world should help them to deepen their understanding of the interaction between physical and human processes, and of the formation and use of landscapes and environments. Geographical knowledge, understanding and skills provide the framework and approaches that explain how the Earth’s features at different scales are shaped, interconnected and change over time.


The national curriculum for geography aims to ensure that all pupils:

(Video) What is the National Curriculum in primary schools?

  • develop contextual knowledge of the location of globally significant places – both terrestrial and marine – including their defining physical and human characteristics and how these provide a geographical context for understanding the actions of processes
  • understand the processes that give rise to key physical and human geographical features of the world, how these are interdependent and how they bring about spatial variation and change over time
  • are competent in the geographical skills needed to:
    • collect, analyse and communicate with a range of data gathered through experiences of fieldwork that deepen their understanding of geographical processes
    • interpret a range of sources of geographical information, including maps, diagrams, globes, aerial photographs and Geographical Information Systems (GIS)
    • communicate geographical information in a variety of ways, including through maps, numerical and quantitative skills and writing at length

Attainment targets

By the end of each key stage, pupils are expected to know, apply and understand the matters, skills and processes specified in the relevant programme of study.

Schools are not required by law to teach the example content in [square brackets].

Subject content

Key stage 1

Pupils should develop knowledge about the world, the United Kingdom and their locality. They should understand basic subject-specific vocabulary relating to human and physical geography and begin to use geographical skills, including first-hand observation, to enhance their locational awareness.

Pupils should be taught to:

(Video) A short film about the National Curriculum

Locational knowledge

  • name and locate the world’s 7 continents and 5 oceans
  • name, locate and identify characteristics of the 4 countries and capital cities of the United Kingdom and its surrounding seas

Place knowledge

  • understand geographical similarities and differences through studying the human and physical geography of a small area of the United Kingdom, and of a small area in a contrasting non-European country

Human and physical geography

  • identify seasonal and daily weather patterns in the United Kingdom and the location of hot and cold areas of the world in relation to the Equator and the North and South Poles
  • use basic geographical vocabulary to refer to:
    • key physical features, including: beach, cliff, coast, forest, hill, mountain, sea, ocean, river, soil, valley, vegetation, season and weather
    • key human features, including: city, town, village, factory, farm, house, office, port, harbour and shop

Geographical skills and fieldwork

  • use world maps, atlases and globes to identify the United Kingdom and its countries, as well as the countries, continents and oceans studied at this key stage
  • use simple compass directions (north, south, east and west) and locational and directional language [for example, near and far, left and right], to describe the location of features and routes on a map
  • use aerial photographs and plan perspectives to recognise landmarks and basic human and physical features; devise a simple map; and use and construct basic symbols in a key
  • use simple fieldwork and observational skills to study the geography of their school and its grounds and the key human and physical features of its surrounding environment

Key stage 2

Pupils should extend their knowledge and understanding beyond the local area to include the United Kingdom and Europe, North and South America. This will include the location and characteristics of a range of the world’s most significant human and physical features. They should develop their use of geographical knowledge, understanding and skills to enhance their locational and place knowledge.

Pupils should be taught to:

Locational knowledge

  • locate the world’s countries, using maps to focus on Europe (including the location of Russia) and North and South America, concentrating on their environmental regions, key physical and human characteristics, countries, and major cities
  • name and locate counties and cities of the United Kingdom, geographical regions and their identifying human and physical characteristics, key topographical features (including hills, mountains, coasts and rivers), and land-use patterns; and understand how some of these aspects have changed over time
  • identify the position and significance of latitude, longitude, Equator, Northern Hemisphere, Southern Hemisphere, the Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn, Arctic and Antarctic Circle, the Prime/Greenwich Meridian and time zones (including day and night)

Place knowledge

  • understand geographical similarities and differences through the study of human and physical geography of a region of the United Kingdom, a region in a European country, and a region in North or South America

Human and physical geography

  • describe and understand key aspects of:
    • physical geography, including: climate zones, biomes and vegetation belts, rivers, mountains, volcanoes and earthquakes, and the water cycle
    • human geography, including: types of settlement and land use, economic activity including trade links, and the distribution of natural resources including energy, food, minerals and water

Geographical skills and fieldwork

  • use maps, atlases, globes and digital/computer mapping to locate countries and describe features studied
  • use the 8 points of a compass, 4- and 6-figure grid references, symbols and key (including the use of Ordnance Survey maps) to build their knowledge of the United Kingdom and the wider world
  • use fieldwork to observe, measure record and present the human and physical features in the local area using a range of methods, including sketch maps, plans and graphs, and digital technologies

Key stage 3

Pupils should consolidate and extend their knowledge of the world’s major countries and their physical and human features. They should understand how geographical processes interact to create distinctive human and physical landscapes that change over time. In doing so, they should become aware of increasingly complex geographical systems in the world around them. They should develop greater competence in using geographical knowledge, approaches and concepts [such as models and theories] and geographical skills in analysing and interpreting different data sources. In this way pupils will continue to enrich their locational knowledge and spatial and environmental understanding.

Pupils should be taught to:

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Locational knowledge

  • extend their locational knowledge and deepen their spatial awareness of the world’s countries, using maps of the world to focus on Africa, Russia, Asia (including China and India), and the Middle East, focusing on their environmental regions, including polar and hot deserts, key physical and human characteristics, countries and major cities

Place knowledge

  • understand geographical similarities, differences and links between places through the study of the human and physical geography of a region in Africa and a region in Asia

Human and physical geography

  • understand, through the use of detailed place-based exemplars at a variety of scales, the key processes in:
    • physical geography relating to: geological timescales and plate tectonics; rocks, weathering and soils; weather and climate, including the change in climate from the Ice Age to the present; and glaciation, hydrology and coasts
    • human geography relating to: population and urbanisation; international development; economic activity in the primary, secondary, tertiary and quaternary sectors; and the use of natural resources
  • understand how human and physical processes interact to influence and change landscapes, environments and the climate; and how human activity relies on the effective functioning of natural systems

Geographical skills and fieldwork

  • build on their knowledge of globes, maps and atlases, and apply and develop this knowledge routinely in the classroom and in the field
  • interpret Ordnance Survey maps in the classroom and the field, including using grid references and scale, topographical and other thematic mapping, and aerial and satellite photographs
  • use Geographical Information Systems (GIS) to view, analyse and interpret places and data
  • use fieldwork in contrasting locations to collect, analyse and draw conclusions from geographical data, using multiple sources of increasingly complex information
(Video) A webinar from the East of England region - geography curriculum


Is geography mandatory in the UK? ›

Almost all pupils are required to study geography and history to the age of 14.

What do Year 1 learn in geography? ›

In this lively and creative topic, Year 1 and and Year 2 children build their knowledge of oceans and seas around the world. They develop their geographical skills and develop an understanding of food chains, exploration and evolution.

What do Year 4 learn in geography? ›

In this lively topic, Year 3 and Year 4 children learn what mountains, rivers and coasts actually are, and discover some of the forces that help create and shape these geographically important features, and the effects they have on the world around them.

What are three major subjects in the National Curriculum of England? ›

The compulsory national curriculum subjects are the 'core' and 'foundation' subjects.
Schools must also offer at least one subject from each of these areas:
  • arts.
  • design and technology.
  • humanities.
  • modern foreign languages.

Why is geography important in the national curriculum? ›

In schools, the teaching of geography gives pupils an understanding of the world around them, its environments, places near and far, and the processes that create and affect them.

What topics are taught in geography? ›

For human and physical geography, your child will be taught to describe and understand key aspects of geography, for example: climate zones, rivers, mountains, volcanoes, earthquakes, the water cycle, types of settlement, economic activity and the distribution of natural resources.

How do you explain geography to a child? ›

Geography is about Earth's land, water, air, and living things—particularly people. The word comes from the Greek geo, which means “Earth,” and graphy, which means “writing or description.” Physical geographers study landforms, water, soil, and climate. They also study the distribution of living things.

What makes a good geographer in KS1? ›

To be able to research information and present what I have learnt in Geography. To use geographical skills and techniques through fieldwork e.g. map skills. To develop a passion ad sense of curiosity for the world and the people who live there. To compare my findings and reach an answer to a question.

What is primary geography? ›

Primary Geography is the Geographical Association's journal for all Early Years and Primary teachers and is published three times a year.

What are map skills in geography? ›

Map skills help us read maps and ascertain information from their symbols and scales. They're essential for directions, recognising the different features of a landscape, and more. Learning map skills is an important element of Geography for KS2 children.

What does it mean to be a geographer KS2? ›

People who study geography are called geographers. Geographers are interested in Earth's physical features, such as mountains, deserts, rivers, and oceans. They are also interested in the ways that people affect and are affected by the natural world.

How is geography taught in Eyfs? ›

In EYFS, children begin to develop their geographical knowledge by exploring features of our school and nursery. Maps and atlases are used to investigate different places as we begin to compare and contrast different environments.

Are A levels compulsory in UK? ›

The answer is yes, you can go to university in UK without A-Levels. However, note that UK universities are very competitive therefore an equivalent academic qualification is a necessity. Fortunately, there are several of them accepted from universities.

Do Year 9 have exams? ›

Assessment in Years 7 to 9

There's no mandatory national testing for students in Years 7 to 9, but teachers do have to do their own assessments of their progress and attainment.

Do you have to follow the national curriculum? ›

The National Curriculum is not compulsory for all schools – only state primaries and secondaries. Schools that don't have to follow the curriculum are academies, free schools and private schools. And home-schoolers do not have to conform to it, either.

What does Ofsted say about geography? ›

Ofsted also says that the curriculum in a high-quality geography education can give pupils the knowledge they need to develop an increasingly complex understanding of place. It adds: “Their understanding of place helps them to connect different aspects of geography.

What kind of knowledge students acquire from a geography curriculum? ›

Knowledge & Skills Gained as a Geography Major:

Understand how human activities, landscapes, and other physical, biological, and cultural phenomena vary across space, and the factors that influence these patterns.

Why is geography so important in primary schools? ›

Studying geography is so important for children, regardless of their age or stage of learning. Geography helps them to make sense of the world around them and piques their curiosity in places and people. Done well, it engages pupils in their world, often spurring them into action, and is fun!

What topics are covered in GCSE geography? ›

The subject content is split into four units: 3.1 Living with the physical environment, 3.2 Challenges in the human environment, 3.3 Geographical applications and 3.4 Geographical skills. In units 3.1 and 3.2 the content is split into sections, with each section focusing on a particular geographical theme.

How many papers do you need for geography GCSE? ›

Content and assessment overview

The Pearson Edexcel Level 1/Level 2 GCSE (9–1) in Geography A consists of three externally- examined papers. Students must complete all assessments in May/June in any single year.

What do u learn in GCSE geography? ›

The GCSE course will deepen understanding of geographical processes, illuminate the impact of change and of complex people-environment interactions, highlight the dynamic links and interrelationships between places and environments at different scales, and develop students' competence in using a wide range of ...

What is the geography of England? ›

England's topography is low in elevation but, except in the east, rarely flat. Much of it consists of rolling hillsides, with the highest elevations found in the north, northwest, and southwest. This landscape is based on complex underlying structures that form intricate patterns on England's geologic map.

Why does the UK have so many mountains? ›

Much of the north and west of the U.K. is covered in high ground, knife-edged mountain ridges separated by deep valleys. This terrain was shaped in the last Ice Age, when thick glaciers covered the land. In the south of England, the countryside is mostly rolling hills.

Where is there UK geographically located? ›

The UK lies between the North Atlantic and the North Sea, and comes within 35 km (22 mi) of the north-west coast of France, from which it is separated by the English Channel. It shares a 499 km (310 mi) international land boundary with the Republic of Ireland.

What are the main physical features of the UK? ›

Physical landscapes in the UK - glaciers, rivers and relief
  • Scotland - The Northwest Highlands, the Cairngorm Mountains, the Grampian Mountains and the Southern Uplands. ...
  • England - The Pennines, Lake District, Dartmoor and Exmoor. ...
  • Wales - Snowdonia and the Brecon Beacons.

How do you say hello in England? ›

How to say hello like a British English speaker - English In A Minute

Is England or UK is same? ›

The United Kingdom is used to describe the political unit consisting of England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. Great Britain is the geographical term referring to the island simply known as Britain. England is one of the countries that make up the British Isles.

What is the main river in England? ›

The two longest rivers in the UK are the River Severn in the south west of England and the River Thames, which flows through the capital. The River Thames is the deepest river in the UK.

What would the UK be called if it became a republic? ›

In 1991, Labour MP Tony Benn introduced the Commonwealth of Britain Bill, which called for the transformation of the United Kingdom into a "democratic, federal and secular Commonwealth of Britain", with an elected president.

Where do most people live in the UK? ›

With 8.96 million people living there, London is one of the most heavily population regions of the UK. Other large urban areas in the UK, include West Midlands urban area, centered around the city of Birmingham at 2.9 million people, along with Greater Manchester (2.8 million) and West Yorkshire (2.3 million).

How many countries are in the UK? ›

The United Kingdom (UK) is made up of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

How many cities are in the UK? ›

It lists those places that have been granted city status by letters patent or royal charter. There are currently a total of 73 such cities in the United Kingdom: 54 in England, seven in Scotland, seven in Wales, and five in Northern Ireland.

What are 5 examples of physical geography? ›

Areas of physical geography include:
  • Geomorphology: the shape of the Earth's surface and how it came about.
  • Hydrology: the Earth's water.
  • Glaciology: glaciers and ice sheets.
  • Biogeography: species, how they are distributed and why.
  • Climatology: the climate.
  • Pedology: soils.

How many years of school does England have? ›

Children in the UK have to legally attend primary and secondary education which runs from about 5 years old until the student is 16 years old.

What is the climate of UK? ›

The UK has a temperate climate. In general, this means that Britain gets cool, wet winters and warm, wet summers. It rarely features the extremes of heat or cold, drought or wind that are common in other climates. The weather conditions are also very changeable.


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4. National Curriculum: Beverly Clarke on computing
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6. UK | The United Kingdom | Primary & Elementary | England | Scotland | Wales | Northern Ireland
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