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National Curriculum

Assessment in geography

 

Making a judgement

At the end of a key stage, teachers should judge which level description best fits the pupil's performance. Each description should be considered alongside descriptions for adjacent levels. When making a judgement at the end of a key stage, you may wish to note the following points.

Making your judgement

  • You will arrive at judgements by taking into account strengths and weaknesses in performance across a range of contexts and over a period of time, rather than focusing on a single piece of work.

  • A single piece of work will not cover all the expectations set out in a level description. It will probably provide partial evidence of attainment in one or two aspects of a level description. If you look at it alongside other pieces of work covering a range of contexts you will be able to make a judgement about which level best fits a pupil's overall performance.

  • Most items of pupils' work cover different aspects of geography. It is useful to separate these aspects in order to understand and plan for progression and to recognise objectives. However, when you are looking across a range of work from one pupil and considering what judgement to make, it is necessary, and indeed easier, to use the level description as a whole.

Giving pupils opportunities to demonstrate attainment

  • Your pupils will need to use a range of alternative forms of communication to show what they can do.

  • In planning units of work and classroom approaches, you will need to provide opportunities for pupils to display their achievements in different ways and to work in a range of situations. At both key stages pupils need to have experience of geographical work that covers all four aspects of the programme of study and the breadth of study. Without this range of opportunities and experience, pupils will not be able to show evidence of their attainment in relation to the level descriptions.

  • It is important to provide opportunities for pupils to work independently, particularly when developing geographical enquiry skills. Pupils will not be able to show that they can identify questions or establish sequences of investigation, for example, if the teacher always provides these. This issue needs to be addressed at an early stage in planning the work since an ability to carry out enquiry independently is characteristic of the higher levels of performance. A range of enquiry opportunities can be provided within everyday classroom tasks as well as by involvement in more substantial pieces of investigative work.

Recording

Although you will want to be able to explain why you have awarded particular levels to pupils at the end of the key stage, there is no requirement for judgements to be explained in a particular way or to be supported by detailed collections of evidence for each pupil. Decisions about collecting information, about its purpose and how it should be used are matters for teachers working within an agreed school policy.

Progression in geography

 There are four aspects of attainment in geography at key stages 1 and 2:

  1. geographical enquiry and skills

  2. knowledge and understanding of places

  3. knowledge and understanding of patterns and processes

  4. knowledge and understanding of environmental change and sustainable development.

Performance has been outlined here in terms of:

  • progression by level

  • progression by aspect.

Progression by level

Expected performance in each aspect has been outlined below for the following levels:

  • levels 1-2 (typical key stage 1)

  • levels 3-4 (high level key stage 1/typical key stage 2).

Performance at levels 1-2

This is characterised by pupils demonstrating that they have studied at local scale and showing the following attributes in their work.

In geographical enquiry and skills, pupils are:

  • drawing on limited experience and on resources provided to ask and respond to simple geographical questions and to express their own views, using basic geographical vocabulary (geographical enquiry)

  • using simple techniques and skills to undertake straightforward tasks, as demonstrated and supported by the teacher (use of skills).

In places, pupils are:

  • recognising and describing 'where things are' in the simple contexts of the classroom, school grounds or local area, and being aware of some places in the wider world (location and context)

  • identifying and beginning to offer descriptive observations about simple recognisable features of places (features and character)

  • making simple comparisons between individual features of different places and recognising how places are linked to other places in the world (contrasts and relationships).

In patterns and processes, pupils are:

  • responding to questions about 'where things are' by making observations about features in the environment and recognising simple patterns (patterns)

  • responding to questions about 'why things are like that' by recognising and making appropriate observations about some physical and human processes (processes).

In environmental change and sustainable development, pupils are:

  • identifying and describing easily recognisable examples of the ways people affect the environment and of attempts to manage these interactions (environmental change and management)

  • recognising some ways in which change may damage or improve environments and affect their own lives (sustainable development).

Performance at levels 3-4

This is characterised by pupils demonstrating that they have studied at local scale (for level 3) or a range of places and environments at more than one scale and in different parts of the world (for level 4) and showing the following attributes in their work.

In geographical enquiry and skills, pupils are:

  • asking and responding to geographical questions and offering their own ideas in the course of undertaking tasks set by the teacher, and being able to identify and give simple explanations for views held by others (geographical enquiry)

  • using a range of simple pieces of equipment and secondary sources to carry out tasks supported by the teacher (use of skills).

In places, pupils are:

  • knowing the location and contexts of places they study and some significant other places (location and context)

  • describing a range of physical and human features of places studied, using appropriate geographical terms and beginning to offer reasons for the distinctive character of places (features and character)

  • making simple comparisons between individual features of different places and recognising how places are linked to other places in the world (contrasts and relationships).

In patterns and processes, pupils are:

  • responding to questions about patterns in the landscape around them and making appropriate observations about the location of features relative to others (patterns)

  • beginning to explain, why things are like that, and how things change by referring to physical and human features of the landscape (processes).

In environmental change and sustainable development, pupils are:

  • identifying changes in the environment and beginning to understand how people both damage and improve the environment (environmental change and management)

  • recognising how and why people may try to improve and sustain environments and identifying opportunities for their own involvement  (sustainable development).

Progression by aspect

Geographical enquiry and skills

Pupils progress from (levels 1 to 2):

  • drawing on limited experience and on resources provided to ask and respond to simple geographical questions and to express their own views, using basic geographical vocabulary (geographical enquiry)

  • using simple techniques and skills to undertake straightforward tasks, as demonstrated and supported by the teacher (use of skills)

to (levels 3 to 4)

  • asking and responding to geographical questions and offering their own ideas in the course of undertaking tasks set by the teacher, and being able to identify and give simple explanations for views held by others (geographical enquiry)

  • using a range of simple pieces of equipment and secondary sources to carry out tasks supported by the teacher (use of skills).

Places

Pupils progress from (levels 1-2):

  • recognising and describing 'where things are' in the simple contexts of the classroom, school grounds or local area, and being aware of some places in the wider world (location and context)

  • identifying and beginning to offer descriptive observations about simple recognisable features of places (features and character)

  • making simple comparisons between individual features of different places and recognising how places are linked to other places in the world (contrasts and relationships)

to (levels 3-4):

  • knowing the location and contexts of places they study and some significant other places (location and context)

  • describing a range of physical and human features of places studied, using appropriate geographical terms and beginning to offer reasons for the distinctive character of places (features and character)

  • making geographical comparisons between places studied, beginning to offer reasons for the differences and recognising how places are interdependent (contrasts and relationships).

Patterns and processes

Pupils progress from (levels 1-2):

  • responding to questions about 'where things are' by making observations about features in the environment and recognising simple patterns (patterns)

  • responding to questions about 'where things are' by making observations about features in the environment and recognising simple patterns (patterns)

to (levels 3-4):

  • responding to questions about patterns in the landscape around them and making appropriate observations about the location of features relative to others (patterns)

  • beginning to explain, why things are like that, and how things change by referring to physical and human features of the landscape (processes).  

Environmental change and sustainable development

Pupils progress from (levels 1-2):

  • identifying and describing easily recognisable examples of the ways people affect the environment and of attempts to manage these interactions (environmental change and management)

  • recognising some ways in which change may damage or improve environments and affect their own lives (sustainable development)

to (levels 3-4)

  • identifying changes in the environment and beginning to understand how people both damage and improve the environment (environmental change and management)

  • recognising how and why people may try to improve and sustain environments and identifying opportunities for their own involvement (sustainable development).

About the attainment target

The attainment target in geography sets out the knowledge, skills and understanding that pupils of different abilities and maturities are expected to have by the end of each key stage. Attainment targets consist of eight level descriptions of increasing difficulty, plus a description of exceptional performance above level 8. Each level description describes the type and range of performance that pupils working at that level should characteristically demonstrate.

The level descriptions provide the basis for making judgements about pupils' performance at the end of a key stage.

The majority of pupils are expected to work at:

  • levels 1-3 in key stage 1 and attain level 2 at the end of the key stage

  • levels 2-5 in key stage 2 and attain level 4 at the end of the key stage.

By indicating expectations at particular levels and by charting broad progression in the subject, the level descriptions can also inform planning, teaching and assessment. Please note, the level descriptions are not designed to be used to 'level' individual pieces of work.

Glossary of terms

Feature
An aspect or a characteristic of a place. Features may be physical, eg a stream, the weather, or human, eg buildings, a railway.

Patterns

The way in which physical and human features occur or are arranged, eg the trends in weather during the year or the way that streets are arranged in a locality (key stage 1); the layout of hedgerows in a farming landscape, the way that streets are arranged in a town (key stage 2).

Processes

Series of events that cause changes in a place or environment, eg the building of new houses changing the look of the landscape (key stage 1); the wearing away of a bank by the flow of the river changing the shape of the channel (key stage 2).

Locality

A small area. The definition changes between key stage 1 and key stage 2.

Scale

The geographical extent of a study:

  • local - study of a small area, eg a village or a town

  • regional - study of the larger area, eg the Midlands, Northern Italy, a stretch of coast, a river system

  • national - study of geographical theme, or themes, in a country, eg tourism in Spain, settlement types in England, regional disparities and population distribution in Brazil

  • international - study of links or relationships between nations, eg international population migration, international trade

  • global - study of patterns or processes across the globe, eg global warming, world development, destruction of the world's tropical forests.

Place

A particular geographical area, eg a village, a city, a district in a city, a country.

Environment

An environment may be physical, eg a desert, a river; human, eg a street, a city; local, eg a street, a microclimate; global, ie the whole world. A place is an environment, although it is also possible to talk of the 'environment' of a 'place'.

Fieldwork

Work out of the classroom. It may involve work in the school grounds, in the area immediately surrounding the school, or further afield. It can vary in duration - part of a lesson, a half day or a whole day, or a residential fieldwork course of more than a day.

Global citizenship

Awareness of the world as a global community, recognising the rights and responsibilities of citizens within it.

Sustainable development

The Sustainable Schools area of Teachernet defines sustainable development as a way of thinking about how we organise our lives and work - including our education system - so that we don't destroy our most precious resource, the planet. It is about:

  • care for oneself

  • care for each other (across cultures, distances and generations)

  • care for the environment (near and far).

'Securing the Future', the UK Government's 2005 sustainable development strategy, refers to sustainable development in the following way:

'Sustainable development will enable all people throughout the world to satisfy their basic needs and enjoy a better quality of life, without compromising the quality of life of future generations.'

This content relates to the 1999 programmes of study and attainment targets.

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