‘Geography explains the past, illuminates the present and prepares us for the future. What could be more important than that?’

Michael Palin

Geography is the study of places on earth and their relationship with each other. We aim to inspire in pupils a curiosity and fascination about the world in which we live.

Geography Intent and Rationale

Geography Intent

At Marlborough, we aim to encourage children’s curiosity and fascination of the world and the people in it through the teaching of geography. Geography is a largely investigative subject and therefore we want to provoke and provide pupils’ answers to questions. The geography curriculum places a lot of importance on the local area. By providing children with opportunities to explore and investigate the local area, they gain a greater sense of identity as their knowledge and understanding of where they come from grows. As well as knowledge of local place, the children will develop their map skills by using a range of sources to develop their locational knowledge of the wider world. This will be supported by various in depth studies on European and non-European countries to help the children understand the similarities and differences across contrasting places.

History and Geography Intent.

History and geography have meaningful links which will deepen the children’s knowledge and understanding of our world and where we live. Examples of this are exploring the 7 continents in year 2 when investigating Christopher Columbus’s travels to America, understanding rivers and their uses when learning about the Egyptians in year 3 and linking land use and settlements with the Vikings in year 4. By making these links purposeful, we feel that children at Marlborough will gain a broad understanding of the humanities.



Children’s geography journey at Marlborough begins with the children exploring their immediate proximity of the field and wood areas, Forest School and the outdoor classroom. This enables the pupils to develop their vocabulary and ability to talk about the features of the school and surrounding areas. Children will be given opportunities to walk through the woods to the stream nearby. Map work will be introduced. Starting with showing pupils where they are going on a walk and drawing maps on the ground to help children visualise the journey to building up to children following simple maps to complete treasure hunts and new adventures

Children’s vocabulary continues to grow as they make observations of environments when they take a bus ride to Bollington. Pupils are encouraged to discuss the environments around them with the correct terminology being modelled. eg town, village, road, park, bus stop, hill, stream. Pupils will also begin to recognise what the function is of each space they see. eg carpark, park, road.

Throughout the year, a focus on changing seasons will take place. Through fieldwork, the children will explore the different seasons, features of the seasons and the weather related to each season. On welly walks, children will note changes in weather, trees and their leaves and in plants. They will develop their understanding of the five Senses to walk in autumn leaves, make and taste soup in the winter and look at the changing colours of leaves and growth of flowers in spring.

Year 1

In year 1, the children begin by focusing closely on their immediate proximity using simple plans and maps as well as aerial photographs to learn about our school grounds. This builds on work in EYFS as pupils begin to locate features of the grounds in relation to each other as well as recognising similarities and differences of human and physical features when learning the names of them. They will develop their map skills through reading a variety of maps, carrying out fieldwork to develop their understanding of the grounds and begin to identify significant physical and human features to include on their own maps. Through fieldwork, the children will begin to develop their directional language and learn the four compass points.  Building on the EYFS curriculum where the children focus on their homes, year 1 are introduced to the four countries that make the United Kingdom. From this, the children begin to increase their understanding of where we live by identifying Macclesfield on a map of the UK. Geographical vocabulary as well as directional language will continue to be used.

Children will share their knowledge of transport and discuss the importance of the canals, roads and railways in the local area. This will build on the knowledge of where Macclesfield is on a map and increase their understanding of the local area. An emphasis on developing vocabulary will take place. Geography links will be made when children look back to the 1950s through their history topic. They will explore and investigate how houses and buildings have changed over time.

In the summer, the children will revisit the four countries in the UK to ensure they are familiar with this. From here, they will learn about the 4 capital cities in each of the countries. With this understanding, the children will explore the difference between a city and a country. Using their knowledge of the location of capital cities through map work, the children will identify cities, countryside and beaches on a satellite maps and using aerial photographs. By doing this, the children will be practising using specific geographical vocabulary. With this knowledge, the children will look more closely at the features of different areas of the UK with a particular focus on the similarities and differences between Formby Beach and Liverpool city. This will include a trip to Formby beach where the children will experience a beach, its features and be able to take part in fieldwork.

Whilst focusing on beaches, the children will move on to learn about seasons and seasonal weather patterns in the UK. This builds on the focus of ‘autumn’ in EYFS as children will be able to compare and contrast seasonal activities and weather types throughout the year.

Year 2

In year 2, we revisit the capital cities of the four countries in the UK, but widen our knowledge of the local area to that of London. This is through the in depth study of the ‘Great Fire of London’. Pupils will develop their knowledge of how to use atlases, NLS maps, ordnance survey maps and digital technology to explore London in 1666 and now. They will identify the location of the GFOL as well as identifying landmarks affected.

In the summer, year 2 will build on their knowledge of the UK by looking at the 7 continents and 5 oceans and plotting the journey Christopher Columbus took. Building on year 1, atlases, globes and digital maps will be explored and used to develop children’s understanding of the journey taken, the oceans crossed and the continents involved. The study of Christopher Columbus links history and geography together. This topic builds on year 1’s history when learning about the moon landing and explorers. Building on the work completed in year 1 on weather, year 2 will develop their knowledge of human and physical geography by looking at weather around the world and the reasons as to why the weather is different in different countries.  Comparing and contrasting human and physical features of the Americas (Caribbean) to the features local to Macclesfield will take place.

Year 3

In year 3, the children will begin by focusing on locational knowledge. By discussing previously taught locational knowledge in year 2 such as knowledge of the UK and the continents, the children will be introduced to the 8 compass points which they will use to identify the UKs regions. From identifying the regions, a focus on identifying varying physical and human features will take place specifically looking at mountains, hills and coasts as this will support the teaching of history specifically looking at settlements in the autumn term. Building on work done in year 1, year 3 will use ordnance survey maps as well as satellite maps to locate the Macclesfield canal (also linking to boats as a way of transport which was looked at in year 2), where it comes from and to and identify its uses as a transport and trade link for the Silk industry. In year 3, a 4 figure grid reference will be introduced when reading maps.

The importance of physical features will be highlighted when teaching about why the Stone Age people chose specific areas to settle. The forest school area and fieldwork will bring the learning of Stone Age to life. A focus on settlements, land use and rivers will be taught when teaching the Stone Age. The use of water and rivers as a mode of transport and trade, with a focus on the River Nile through the teaching of the Egyptians will be explored as well as human and physical geography placing high importance. NLS maps and atlases will be used to identify Egypt on a map, Ancient Egyptian landmarks as well as the river. The 8 compass points taught in the autumn term will be revisited and used to provide detail on where landmarks, pyramids and the great sphinx are.

Year 4

Throughout year 4, children will look at Europe. This links to the history work on the Ancient Greeks and Romans. They will follow an in depth study of one European region which will be North West Greece including Athens. Building on Key Stage 1, the children consider geographical similarities and differences by focusing on human and physical geography such as trading and transport within Greece as well as locational knowledge where pupils will locate major cities. Within year 4, children will take responsibility to choose their own sources (atlases, OS maps, digital technology etc) by thinking about the effectiveness of each source and these will be used to help develop their knowledge and understanding of Greece as a country within Europe.

When studying the Romans, map work will take place to identify the Roman Empire and the Celtic settlements. Geography links will be made to topographical features already discussed in year 3 for example, why Celts settled on the top of hills. Rivers and roads will be explored which continues to build on work in year 3 with the River Nile and Macclesfield Canal.

In summer, the history topic focuses on Mount Vesuvius and Pompeii which will need to be located on maps and sources continued to be chosen by the children. There are explicit links to geography with a specific focus on human and physical geography therefore a comparison between human and physical features of Pompeii to North West England will be made. Following this, investigating and exploring tectonic plates will take place whereby pupils will need to use sources to locate them around the world. This will be followed by more human and physical geography when developing children’s knowledge and understanding of volcanoes and earth quakes.

Year 4 will complete their geography work by completing a river study using the River Bollin. Using the knowledge previous taught about the River Nile and Macclesfield Canal, pupils will carry out fieldwork whereby they will observe, measure and record information based on the physical and human features of the river. Following this, the water cycle will be taught with reference to the water cycles impact on surrounding rivers and hills. This builds on the teaching of the water cycle in science.

Year 5

When revisiting locational knowledge of the United Kingdom, children will extend their knowledge to counties (making links to history of names of counties). Moving from the Romans in year 4 to the Vikings, the children will carry out an in depth study of York. Locating York on a map and investigating its importance to the Vikings as well as asking questions about why the Vikings settled in York. Links to the Anglo – Saxons will also be made with reference to settlements.

In the spring, the children will move on to a focus study on Central America which builds on work in year 2 on Christopher Columbus but a different time period. The children will use map skills to locate the Americas and use satellite photographs, ordnance survey maps and topographical maps to identify Mayan settlements, water sources, farming and buildings. Physical and human features will be explored in reference to the characteristics of the location of the Mayans. Building on knowledge of weather in year 2 when looking at climate zones, the impact of the weather will be explored in relation to the Mayans, their location and the impact this has on them.

The 4 figure grid reference in year 3 will be built on in year 5 to a 6 figure grid reference. Pupils will develop their locational knowledge by identifying the equator, the northern and southern hemisphere, tropics of cancer and Capricorn as well as the Arctic and Antarctic circles. A focus on understanding longitude and latitude as well as the significance of time will also take place.

In the summer, moving on from Central America in the spring, year 5 will carry out a study on North America. Map work will take place to identify this continent the regions and some of the 51 states within North America. The children will identify significant landmarks such as Niagara Falls and the Great Lakes as well as explore the similarities and differences between land uses across the continent. Linking to weather in the spring, year 5 will identify the difference in weather across America comparing contrasting states. This will support the work carried out on vegetation belts and biomes.

Year 6

Children will revisit the locational knowledge of the UK and the wider world showing what they know.

Year 6 will carry out a project over the autumn term where they will look at change in local land use over the last 100 years using interactive NLS maps, fieldwork in the local area, land use maps and ordnance surveys. Children will continue to build on their knowledge and independence of using 6 figure grid references. There will be many opportunities for the children to carry out fieldwork which will demonstrate their understanding of the local area and the changes that have impacted Macclesfield over time.

Children will be given the opportunity to deepen their understanding of and ability to carry out key geography skills such as observations, reading a variety maps, recognising the similarities and differences of maps from the past to the present day as well as continuing to build on their understanding of key vocabulary which they can use across the curriculum.