Curriculum update from the DfE

The proposals for a new National Curriculum for geography

Following the Government’s publication of ‘The Importance of Teaching’ Schools White Paper (2010) which stated that the national curriculum should set out ‘the essential knowledge that all children should be expected to learn’, a review of the national curriculum in England commenced in January 2011. Over the summer of 2012 the Department worked closely with key geography subjects associations – The Royal Geographical Society- with the Institute of British Geographers , The Geographical Association, and the Geological Society – and other eminent geographers, to define the essential subject content that should be taught to pupils from age 5 to 14 years in maintained schools. 
It is intended that the new curriculum will provide a benchmark for all schools including those that are not required by law to teach the national curriculum.
In 2012, Ofsted reported that in a significant number of schools, pupils’ core geographical knowledge was weak and that pupils often had a poor understanding of the world they live in. In response to this evidence, the new geography programmes of study specify more precisely than in the past the fundamental concepts that should underpin the teaching of geography in schools. 
The programmes of study form the minimal basis of pupil’s learning and it is for teachers to use the freedom they will have over the wider school curriculum to build on this essential knowledge and develop a curriculum which meets the needs of all their pupils.
The new proposals suggest that geography should ‘inspire in pupils a curiosity and fascination about the world’ and provide "a deep understanding of key physical and human processes". In essence, the new curriculum has rebalanced the content of geography by giving human and physical processes (including earth science) equal mention alongside a requirement for pupils to have better locational knowledge and competence in applying core geographical skills such as fieldwork and mapping. 
These components form the DNA of geography, and it is for teachers as the ‘curriculum makers’ to decide how best to teach the content with support from key subject associations such as the Royal Geographical Society - with Institute of British Geographers and the Geographical Association.

Deborah Jones
National Curriculum Review Division
Department of Education


Also well worth reading Emma Rawlings Smith's essay on Curriculum Change which she wrote as part of her MA studies - "Why curriculum change is necessary".