Title: Whole School Plan for Geography

Lisaniskey N.S.

 Introductory Statement and Rationale

(a)  Introductory Statement:

This plan was created by the staff and principal of Lisaniskey N.S., with assistance from the SESE cuiditheoir following attendance at Geography in-service training in addition to in school planning days. This plan will form the basis of each teacher’s long and short term planning in Geography. This plan was drafted after a process of consultation within the staff.

(b) Rationale

In keeping with the guidelines laid down by the DES (1999), we focused on this area of planning to ensure that the revised curriculum for Geography was introduced in our school in a well-planned and organised manner. This plan will benefit teaching and learning within our school.

We recognise that Geography is an integral part of the Social, Environmental and Scientific Education of our pupils. In our school SESE provides opportunities for the child to explore, investigate and develop an understanding of the natural, human, social and cultural environment in which he/she lives. Geography is the study of the Earth, its inhabitants and the inter-relationships, between them in the context of place, space and environment. Geography focuses on three major themes place, space and environment. We wish to ensure that children within our school receive a broad balanced and coherent understanding of these themes. Geography further focuses on the inter-relationships of natural and human features, how humans relate to the environment and geography from a local to global level.

The distinct role Geography plays in SESE is one of helping the child understand and appreciate the physical and human features of their immediate and wider environments through an activity based and broadly balanced child centred Geography curriculum.

Vision and Aims

(a) Vision

Through our school’s Geography programme, we aim to help pupils to come to an understanding of and take an interest in the natural and human environments around them and in the wider world. Our school ethos promotes respect and care for the local environment. Environmental activities encouraged in our school will foster a positive attitude and sense of responsibility among our pupils for the natural environment and its relationship with the human environment. We hope that children will have a clear awareness and knowledge of their immediate local area through the study of Geography in our school.

(b) Aims

We endorse the aims of the SESE Geography curriculum as outlined in the Geography Curriculum P. 14:

·         To develop knowledge and understanding of local, regional and wider environments and their interrelationships

·         To encourage an understanding and appreciation of the variety of natural and human conditions on the Earth

·         To develop empathy with people from diverse environments and an understanding of human interdependence

·         To develop the ability to use a range of communicative methods, especially those concerned with the development of graphicacy

·         To encourage the development of a sense of place and spatial awareness

·         To encourage the development of caring attitudes and responsible behaviour towards the environment and involvement in the identification, discussion, resolution and avoidance of environmental problems

·         To develop an understanding of appropriate geographical concepts


Some of our short term aims include:

–        Carrying out a local SESE trail within each class focusing on our local natural environment.

–        Taking part in weather observation and recording

–        Setting up a new weather station for our school to assist with weather recording.

–        Utilising our garden all year round and sourcing people with expertise in this area to guide us with this.

–        Studying the course of our local river (with senior classes)


n  Curriculum Planning

1.Strands and Strand Units


Each teacher is familiar with the strands and strand units, content objectives for his/her relevant class levels. Having read the Curriculum documents and Teacher Guidelines we understand that all strands and all strand units must be covered each year but not all the content objectives need be addressed within a strand unit.


The three strands of the Geography curriculum are:

Human Environments; Natural Environments and Environmental Awareness and Care.


As a staff we consult with each other regularly to ensure there is continuity and progression in the geography programme from class to class, with work being differentiated for older children within the classes. In so far as is possible, teachers will avoid undue repetition of material however we note the geography curriculum allows for natural repetition of topics e.g. the local natural environment. We have attached a grid table to this plan with locations agreed from 3rd to 6th class for study of a contrasting place in Ireland and European and Non European country. We have also selected topics for the strand units living in the local community and the local natural environment.


See our Strands, Strand Units and Objectives for each class appended.



2. Skills Development


We are aware that the development of Geographical skills is of equal importance to strand content in this curriculum. Class teachers will ensure that throughout their teaching there is a balance between skills development and the acquisition of knowledge.



The skills of Geographical Investigation include,

–        a sense of place and space

–        maps, globes and graphical skills

–        geographical investigation skills


These skills will be developed through the content of the strands and strand units.


Strategies for development of these skills may involve the children being actively involved in fieldwork and outdoor investigations (Teacher Guidelines p.68). Children are encouraged to explore their local area, which we undertake as class activities. The use of maps, globes and atlas’s will be used in an age appropriate way from infants to 6thclass. A variety of maps are available within the school, from the local area to international maps. Each classroom has a globe available to them. The Geographical investigative skills and a sense of place and space are taught in tandem with curricular content. By following the content of this curriculum and by developing geographical skills the children in our school are given opportunities to work as geographers at every class level.


We have appended skills and concepts development for each class to this plan. Teachers are aware of the skills development for their classes and will consult with Curriculum documents for each class level.


3. Children’s ideas


Teachers use the children’s ideas of place and space as a starting point for all geographical activity.


We find out what the children already know by


–        Talk and discussion

–        Open questioning and Problem solving

–        Active listening

–        Annotated drawings

–        Brainstorming

–        Free investigation/play of Geography materials

–        Teacher designed tasks and tests


Children in our school will be encouraged to question and openly investigate using practical hands on activities.


4.Approaches and Methodologies

We plan to use the  key methodologies of the Primary Curriculum in the teaching of Geography

o   Active learning

o   Problem solving

o   Developing skills through content


Teachers follow the recommended sequence for geography – local, regional, national, European and global and reflect it back to their own location. We believe the children’s awareness of their local area is paramount however so too, is their understanding of the wider world.

Table1: Resources used to teach Geography

  Learning about Local/ National Regions Learning about The Environment

Human      Natural

Learning about international regions
AudioVisual resources
Photographs √                    √
Environmental Resources
Maps √                         √
Globes & Atlases
Fieldwork √                         √
Trails    √                         √
Environmental Audit √                         √
Interview & Story    √                              
Presentations from guest speakers
Concern Trocaire and Irish Aid Packs


Mapping skills and mapping concepts are developed using the following techniques:

e.g. Plan of table, plan of the classroom, plan of bedroom, house plans, school plans, original school plan, local ordnance survey maps to international maps available, symbols and scale in mapping, 3D models, making simple maps and grid referencing, awareness of longitude and latitude.


Fieldwork is incorporated into our geography programme through the investigation of our local natural environment. We bring the children on field trips to local features of interest. Refer to the attached Environmental Audit and Fieldwork guidelines.


Resources for mapping and graphicacy skills are purchased as the need arises after staff consultation. We have chosen the Philip’s Modern Atlas for Irish Post Primary Schools in addition to a selection of maps throughout the classes these include Ordnance Survey, MAPSCO, and maps sourced locally. We have a globe in each class.


Having reviewed methodologies we have identified the area of models e.g.: 3D buildings and simulations e.g. Google Earth as a methodology we intend to prioritise, each class teacher will be responsible for this.

5.Linkage and Integration

The geography curriculum provides opportunity to link strands within the curriculum at each class level.

Linkage: When we are studying the local environment, we will study both the natural and human environments and the effect one has on the other.

When we are studying distant places under the Human Environment strand from third to sixth class, we also learn about the natural environments of these places.

The strand Environmental Awareness and Care is by its nature, linked strongly with the other two strands.

Strands can also be linked using a thematic approach across the geography curriculum e.g. seasons, weather, rocks and soils


Integration: We note that the SESE subjects are naturally integrated across the curriculum. This is reflected in our teaching and planning. This will be particularly prominent through the use of trails and in all our fieldwork activities. While teachers may plan using integrated themes much of it occurs naturally in teaching and learning, through the child’s observation of  their environment. We have attached a list of integrated topics from which teachers can choose from if they wish. By its very nature Geography links strongly with Maths through the areas of scale, special awareness, direction and graphing.

When choosing a European and a non European country in the Human Environments Strand, we shall consider our choices in History under the “Life, society, work and culture in the Past” strand (for example: If we choose Germany in Geography, we could choose to focus on WW2 in History; Italy – Renaissance under Eras of conflict and Change in History; Britain – Industrial Revolution). We will visit Hell’s Kitchen a local railway museum which will integrate our history and geography.


6. Multi-Grade Teaching


As we have 3 multi classes in our school, We follow a biannual plan from Infants to Sixth class. We use a thematic approach in many cases in the study of SESE throughout our classes. However, we also teach the subjects individually. We will use integration as much as possible. We will differentiate the work for the different ages by expecting the older children to cover more ground in depth and content and presentation. There will be differentiation between the classes to allow for age and ability.


We have a core textbook for Geography in all classes. However, each classroom has a bank of other textbooks and reference books available to them to supplement teaching.


Textbooks are selected after consultation with staff and are a whole staff decision. However Teachers are allowed use their own discretion in this matter.

7.Assessment and Record Keeping

Records are kept in line with the Schools policy on Assessment and Record Keeping.

Assessment in Geography seeks to achieve a balanced picture of the children’s progress in the knowledge and understanding of environmental matters, acquisition of geographical knowledge and skills and in the development of important positive attitudes.

Methods we will use:

·          Teacher observation of the children’s learning as the geography curriculum is implemented

·         Teacher designed tasks and tests at the end of units of work.

·         Project group work and classroom displays of pupils work

·         Feedback from pupils


These records will inform the teacher as to the progress of the child and as to the effectiveness of their teaching methodologies. This information will form part of teacher’s classroom and school planning. Teachers share this information with parents at parent teacher meetings and informally throughout the year.


In line with our school’s policy on assessment (2005), the primary purpose underlying assessment in geography is to enhance the learning experiences of the child.




Teachers are familiar with the NCCA draft guidelines for teachers of students with General Learning Disabilities. We are aware of the distinct role geography can play in the harmonious development of each and every child. We will do our best to ensure that all children have the opportunity to experience a rounded environmental education and that children are not attending support classes during Geography.

Geography plays a pivotal role in the child’s education and every child will have opportunities to engage in learning activities appropriate to their abilities.

·         Teachers will use a mixture of whole-class teaching and group work, with different groups set tasks of various complexities.

·         Teachers will develop their questioning techniques spanning from simple recall to more complex and analytical skills so that all pupils will have opportunities for success.

·         Map work will be graded according to ability.

·         Different ways of recording and communicating findings will be encouraged e.g. drawing, ICT, written records, oral reports, graphs and models

·         All children benefit from active involvement in the environment so all will be encouraged to participate in fieldwork.

·         The exceptional ability child will be encouraged to undertake additional research and recording their geographical findings in a variety of ways.

·         In the event where children are born abroad or who have lived in other countries they will be invited to share their experiences with the other pupils.

·         Children will be provided with opportunities to work co-operatively.


9. Equality of Participation and Access

Refer to schools Equality Policy

Boys and girls will have equal opportunities to participate in geography lessons and activities and experience all strands and strand units.


Teachers will refer to the Department of Education and Science Intercultural Education in the Primary School Guidelines for Primary Schools.

The geography class is used as an opportunity to educate children as to the culture of all people, within our community. Our geography curriculum celebrates difference in addition to promoting cultural awareness.


n  Organisational Planning

10. Timetable

In keeping with the recommendations in the Primary School Curriculum Introduction (page 70) a minimum of three hours will be allocated to SESE per week, from first class to sixth, and two and a quarter hours in the infant classes.

On occasion, time will be blocked as appropriate. This might occur when:

–        working on a (integrated) project

–        exploring the local environment

–        devising and undertaking a local trail

Teachers will consider the use of discretionary curriculum time for SESE when appropriate.

11. Resources and ICT


We have completed an audit of our Geography resources throughout the school. Most resources and reference materials are available in classrooms however we intend to collect our reference materials and store them in a central location.


–        Maps of local area : Donamon and Roscommon

–        Maps of Ireland West, Ireland, Europe and the World

–        Globes


Rock type chart

Maximum and minimum thermometer                                Torches

Photographs                                                                      Sundials

Weather Vanes                                                                 Cloud Cover chart

Anemometer                                                                     Barometer

Rain Gauge


Reference Materials:

Geographical photographs

National Geographic magazines (Children’s & Adult)

Basic Mapwork

Textbooks pertaining to each class level

Other reference materials within our central storage area


Digital Camera


Interactive Whiteboard in every classroom

Laptop computers available for use in every classroom


We have completed an environmental audit of the immediate locality and have decided how to use it as a resource. We will create an inventory and checklist of resources. Resources are purchased by the staff after consultation.


Having completed a check of our resources we have identified the following as a resource which we need within the school: we will contact the Ordinance survey office with a view to increasing our stock of local maps.


We have access to the internet so that we can use the web as a geographical resource. We have appended a list of useful websites and use the Google Earth programme as part of our geography curriculum for aerial photographs. Teachers follow school code for Acceptable Internet Usage Policy when using the internet in the classroom.


Education Resource Packs


12. Health and Safety


We have a Health and Safety policy in place in our school which covers safety concerns around out of school activities, in this subject fieldwork we have also appended considerations for undertaking geography fieldwork. (See Geography Teacher Guidelines P 74 – 78 for guidance on such a policy)




13. Individual Teachers’ Planning and Reporting


The curriculum is presented as a yearly cycle


·         Teachers will report on work completed on a Monthly Report template – Cúntas Míosúil, these are kept in a file in the Principal’s office. These will help inform teachers future classroom planning. Cuntás Miosúil’s will inform review of the Geography whole school plan as it will form the basis of work completed within the school after our yearly cycle. Furthermore it will reflect our success and achievement of short term aims.

·         Teachers will use the Geography curriculum strands and strand units and whole school plan when planning

·         Teachers keep yearly and short term plans for Geography.


14. Staff Development


Teachers have access to reference books, resource materials, and websites dealing with geography. Teachers are responsible for keeping these resources up to date. Individual teachers are able to purchase materials they require. School personnel can research new methodologies and approaches and are encouraged to use these in the classroom and share with colleagues. Teachers are made aware of geography courses available in Carrick on Shannon Education Centre and encouraged to attend and share their knowledge with other members of staff. At times local schools come together for guest speakers. We invite speakers to our school to work with the children and teachers.


15. Parental Involvement

Parents have an important role to play as custodians of local knowledge that can be shared with their children as they explore the various aspects of the local environment. Parents and grandparents are encouraged to support the delivery of this programme by participating in surveys and interviews. Parents are invited to celebrate and view results of projects, surveys, investigations in the school when displayed on school noticeboards or read about them in our school newsletter. When the opportunity presents itself parents may be invited to accompany the school on outdoor pursuits.


16. Community Links


People in the local community who have an interest and knowledge in the environment will be invited to speak to the children. The local library will be a source of knowledge for the children. In the past they have supported the school through the provision and presentation on map making and cartography.



n  Success Criteria


It is our aim that the whole school plan for Geography will make a difference to the teaching and learning of Geography in our school. We will review this whole school plan in the future under the following headings:


  • How are methodologies listed in this whole school plan working in the classroom.
  • Are children’s ideas of place and space used as a starting point.
  • Are teachers using this plan as a basis for their yearly and classroom planning.
  • Are knowledge and skills being given equal emphasis throughout the school.
  • Investigation and assessment of children’s awareness and knowledge of local and global issues, features and developments.
  • Are procedures outlined in this plan being consistently followed throughout the school.
  • Review the use of and purchasing of resources.
  • How procedures for fieldwork are working in the school.
  • Is there progression in the acquisition of geographical skills: a sense of place and space, geographical investigative skills, and mapping.
  • Parental feedback.
  • Teacher observation and feedback.
  • Children’s feedback.
  • Inspector’s suggestions/observations.



n  Implementation


(a) Roles and Responsibilities

All class teachers are responsible for the implementation of the geography curriculum in their own classrooms. The environmental audit and resources inventory will be carried out as a staff activity.