In our response to the programme of learning aspect of the Rose Review, we call for greater emphasis on spatial understanding, and a closer balance between human and physical geography.
Response submitted 2009
We welcome the opportunity to respond to the consultation on the Rose Review. Below we have highlighted key comments and also made suggestions for amendments to the current draft (as track changes) for the area of understanding titled Historical, Geographical and Social Understanding.
We do feel that there need to be significant clarifications and re-balancing within the geography areas of learning, but that these can be achieved with relative ease. Our key points are given on the first page and are then exemplified through track changes in the text of the proposals themselves to illustrate how the changes we feel are required could easily be included. Our suggestions concern the geographical dimensions only and do not alter the overall balance of the proposals between the three areas of study.
These are all important points that reflect serious and justified concerns:
One of geography’s major contributions to the curriculum is to support pupils ‘spatial understanding’ of their world. In short, it is helping them answer the questions of where is this place or environment/landscape, what is it like, why is it like that, and how does it compare with and link to other places. This geographical contribution is underrepresented in the curriculum proposals, and especially so when compared with the clear focus in history on chronology and the importance of understanding our world as integral to being responsible citizens.
We feel that there is not the right balance between the physical and human aspects of geography in the proposals – the subject itself is equally balanced between the two. We note that many of the geographical examples currently focus broadly on the physical world. The Society believes a more appropriate balance needs to be struck and we have included a number of references to human geography and related case studies, and where required to ‘environment’. These will also help to reinforce the ‘sustainability’ and the ‘social understanding’ aspects of this area of study.
Another major contribution of geography is in helping pupils use an understanding of scale – such as at the local, national and global levels – within their studies. Although the proposals identify opportunities for study at the local and global levels the specific term of ‘scale’ is not used and it should be introduced in the two sections Key Knowledge and Key Skills as suggested below. The national level also needs inclusion in appropriate places.
a. The term ‘charts’ is used in this section a number of times. In geographical usage this term refers to ‘nautical charts’, which we are sure is not the intention here and would be misleading. We infer the term is being used in relation to the illustration of information through graphs and diagrams? This needs clarification in the terminology.
b. We also suggest replacing the term ‘remote locations’ with a more appropriate term such as “beyond the neighbourhood of the school, elsewhere in the UK or abroad”. Remote locations can be taken to mean just wilderness areas or areas with little or no links to the wider world; and we do not think you mean that in this instance. We note that this term is also used in the proposal for Scientific and Technological Understanding and we would suggest a similar change of wording.
5. GIS. We welcome the inclusion of pupils’ use of GIS in the proposals and feel this commitment to the use of this cutting edge geographical ICT can be further strengthened.
6. Fieldwork. We wish to be assured that there is sufficient recognition of the need for meaningful geographical fieldwork in this area of study.
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