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Geography Teaching in Many Schools Must Improve - Ofsted

Friday 4th February 2011

Learning about countries of the world, names of continents, capital cities, map reading and key environment and terrain features during a geography lesson used to be one of the main important subjects in all UK schools, but a recent report from the school inspectorate, Ofsted, has found that poor geography lessons have caused children’s knowledge of their world to decline.

The Ofsted study, based on observations of geography classes at 91 primaries and 90 secondaries between 2007 and 2010, found that geography teaching was under pressure in the majority of schools, and geography was said to be disappearing in one in 10 primary schools. There are also a worryingly shrinking number of secondary pupils taking the subject at GCSE and A-level. Although geography is still a compulsory subject for pupils aged five to 14, Ofsted found that poor teaching of the subject was mainly caused by the teacher’s lack of knowledge.

Learning about major rivers, mountains, counties, location and changes to country borders through history because of conflict etc and how to read maps properly contributes to pupils’ knowledge of the world they live in. In some of the schools visited, the numbers choosing to study geography at GCSE level were declining. The quality of the provision was also declining and time allocated to the subject at Key Stage 3 was being reduced. In other schools, however, the subject was flourishing. Their senior managers and the teachers saw geography as relevant and valuable. In these schools, the students had good core geographical knowledge and an awareness of political, social, economic and environmental issues, locally and globally.

The report – Geography: Learning to Make a World of Difference – recommended better on-the-job training for teachers, a more rigorous focus on geography in the first three years of secondary education and a rise in the number of fieldtrips for all ages.


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