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Westminster Institute of Education THE STATE OF GEOGRAPHY IN PRIMARY ITT: A Perspective Drawn from Primary PGCE Courses Professor Simon Catling.

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Presentation on theme: "Westminster Institute of Education THE STATE OF GEOGRAPHY IN PRIMARY ITT: A Perspective Drawn from Primary PGCE Courses Professor Simon Catling."— Presentation transcript:

1 Westminster Institute of Education THE STATE OF GEOGRAPHY IN PRIMARY ITT: A Perspective Drawn from Primary PGCE Courses Professor Simon Catling

2 Westminster Institute of Education Primary Initial Teacher Training Standards Focus on Planning, Teaching, Assessment and Pupil and Classroom Management Core subjects: English, mathematics and science Additional subjects: foundation subjects and RE In England, currently, trainees must have: …sufficient understanding of a range of work across the following subjects….history or geography….to be able to teach them in the age range for which they are trained, with advice from an experienced colleague where necessary. [S2.1b]

3 Westminster Institute of Education Researching Geography in Primary ITT No research about the geography taught to all primary trainees Researched 63 HEIs that provide PGCE courses in England, Wales and Northern Ireland in 2004/05 Focus on provision of geography for all primary PGCE trainees Questionnaire based, circulated by email Response rate: 79% England, 47; Wales, 2; Northern Ireland, 1 Scotland not included

4 Westminster Institute of Education Topics investigated Questionnaire to geography tutors, which covered: Geography provision Geography unit organisation Programme aims Time available for geography Tutors involved and teaching provision Teaching styles and programme content Programme assessment Strengths, limitations and developments needed

5 Westminster Institute of Education Provision for geography 50 responding PGCE courses 45 include geography for all their trainees 2 include geography for half their trainees (the other half do history) 3 do not include geography at all Some 95% of NQTs start teaching with a geography background from their primary ITT course Bear in mind that some 40% of graduate trainees have not studied geography beyond 14, with at best up to 20% taking geography to A level or fully or in part in their degree.

6 Westminster Institute of Education The purpose of geography units 70% of units refer to geography in their title, but 30% subsume geography in Humanities or Pedagogy Key aims of the Units are to: introduce school National Curriculum Geography be practical and active in teaching approaches introduce appropriate teaching resources develop trainees subject knowledge develop understanding and use of enquiry develop curiosity and enthusiasm for geography make cross-subject links

7 Westminster Institute of Education Time and teaching context Average is 5-6 geography sessions [between 4 & 8 sessions] in 10.5 hours [between 8 & 12 hours] - one fifth of core subject time 72% units taught by geography tutors/tutor teams with geography and primary teaching experience 11% taught by non-geographers 17% taught by secondary geographers Nearly 20% taught by short-term contract staff 55% taught by single tutor Less than half of courses have sessions taught in consecutive weeks 30% of sessions timetabled irregularly 2 geography units lasted just 1 day

8 Westminster Institute of Education Teaching approach and unit content - 1 Interactive and practical sessions, resource based 20% use enquiry approaches in their teaching 38% attempt to cover the full range of primary geography, but 62% are selective (largely but not only the shorter units) 92% cover geographical enquiry 98% include map skills Place studies appear in all units Environmental change in 75% 70% include planning and assessment

9 Westminster Institute of Education Teaching approach and unit content - 2 75% undertake some fieldwork, on campus or locally 72% include the use of ICT in geography c.20% make visits to museums, development education centres, field centres 15% bring in external speakers c.50% involve making links to other subjects, though c.20% only involve other subject tutors Main geography connections noted to History, English, maths, RE, ICT

10 Westminster Institute of Education Assessing trainees geographical understanding 32% of courses assess geography for all trainees, but this may be in a foundation subject assignment 21% of courses assess some trainees, who opt into geography or have a humanities subject focus Types of assessment activity include keeping a geography or foundation subject file, geography unit or lesson planning, cross-subject lesson planning, providing a display or making a presentation In 12% of courses geography assessment can be failed but the PGCE course still passed In 47% of courses geography is not assessed

11 Westminster Institute of Education Geography tutor perspectives Key strengths The interactive and practical teaching approaches Access to good geography resources Development of enquiry approaches Developing enthusiasm for geography Key concerns Lack of time for geography Poor timetabling and room allocation Resource/time limitations to fieldwork and speakers Trainees lack of seeing geography in schools

12 Westminster Institute of Education Summarising the positive 94% of PGCE courses include geography In 70% of courses geography is readily identifiable Units focus on primary geography requirements The majority are selective in what can be covered A variety of active and practical teaching strategies are used Place studies and environmental matters and sustainable development are covered Fieldwork occurs in three-quarters of units Cross-subject links are made in half the units

13 Westminster Institute of Education Summarising the concerns Time is limited for geography: ±1.5% of the course Limited opportunity to develop subject understanding c.30% trainees not taught by primary geographers Third of geography units taught irregularly Only 50+% courses assess all or some trainees Teaching groups average 25-30 Limited time for fieldwork, ICT use, visiting speakers c.70% only cover planning and assessment of geography in the primary curriculum Limited support for trainees outside teaching time

14 Westminster Institute of Education Geography and history are time starved Guidance on the current Standard S2.1 notes the (im)balance of subject knowledge needed for teaching in KS1/2 It recognises the central importance of the core subjects……the Standard also recognises the importance of the broader curriculum and seeks to provide assurances that new teachers have some knowledge of a range of other subjects. The balance between knowledge of the core and and other subjects reflects the time trainees will spend teaching mathematics, English and science as part of their school-based training. [ITT Guidance Handbook, 2004, TTA, p.16, italics added] Teaching beyond the core is of negligible importance

15 Westminster Institute of Education Time balance on a PGCE course Characterising typical time on a PGCE course: School-based training in course 720 hours Professional studies elements 100 hours 3 core curriculum subjects 160 hours 8 other primary subjects 84 hours [including geography 10.5 hours] Specialist/interest elements 20 hours Reading/assessment time 116 hours TOTAL course time 1200 hours Geography has, on average, 0.9% of taught time

16 Westminster Institute of Education Geography and history are interchangeable The significance of geography is not appreciated History and geography are grouped because there are similarities in the way they are organised and taught in terms of their thematic nature, the use of evidence and the cross-subject links that can be made. [ITT Guidance Handbook, 2004, TTA, p.16] In history of geography, trainees might introduce a topic to the class, support pupils in investigating and interrogating evidence, and teach a variety of ways of recording information through, for example, illustrations, timelines, maps and diagrams, graphs and different forms of writing. [ITT Guidance Handbook, 2004, TTA, p.41]

17 Westminster Institute of Education Maintaining weak subject understanding By the end of their primary PGCE course trainees: need thorough knowledge and understanding to teach the core subjects need little more than general teaching capability, since they are not required to have sufficient in-depth understanding, to teach the non-core subjects such as geography Trainees should have For Key Stages 1 and/or 2…..sufficient understanding of a range of work across the following subjects….history or geography….to be able to teach them in the age range for which they are trained, with advice from an experienced colleague where necessary. [S2.1b]

18 Westminster Institute of Education Access to geography Draft proposals for revised ITT/QTS Standards state: Teachers with QTS should: Q2.1 have a secure and up-to-date knowledge and understanding of the subjects/subject areas they teach in relation to the prior learning, levels of attainment, future progression and transition of learners. Q2.2 have a working knowledge and understanding of statutory and non-statutory curricula and other current initiatives for the subjects they teach.

19 Westminster Institute of Education Moving forward - 1 The Primary PGCE course is just 36-38 weeks long There is limited space for improving geographys lot DfES & TDA actions Geography as a required subject in the Standards (proposed to be rectified) Recommend minimum time for non-core subjects, like geography, of 15 hours Encourage the use of primary geography tutors who are geographers with primary teaching experience

20 Westminster Institute of Education Moving forward - 2 PGCE course leaders and teams Timetable geography in consecutive weeks Have manageable teaching group sizes Provide suitable classrooms and resources Support time for fieldwork Primary geography tutors Develop at least one enquiry activity Keep the focus on place and environment Make links with other primary subjects Assess trainees understanding, even if informally

21 Westminster Institute of Education Moving forward - 3 Geography education community Maintain a GA list of primary geography tutors Develop networks of support across HEIs Extend current web-based support to all primary geography tutors Organise conferences to share experience and provide support Encourage secondary geographers in same HEIs to be supportive of primary colleagues Use the Geography Action Plan to provide geography CPD for primary teachers

22 Westminster Institute of Education Conclusion Primary teachers provide 7-8 years of the 10-11 years of childrens required geographical learning [Foundation Stage - KS3 (3/4 – 14)] Half of primary teachers train through PGCE route Most will spend ±1.5% on geography in their course Evidence indicates many - even new - primary teachers geography subject knowledge is limited Issue supported by critical reports on geographical learning and teaching in primary schools Need to address the concerns in ITT courses If geography in ITT matters, geography in younger childrens education will matter – and vice versa

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