Geography at DWJS
At DWJS Geography is a study of real places, real people and real environments.Through a high-quality geography education, DWJS we aim to inspire our pupils with a curiosity and fascination about the world around them and we believe it is important for our pupils to think deeply about their place in the world; their values, rights and responsibilities to other people and to the environment.
DWJS is a culturally diverse community, with many of its members drawing on global heritages, and it is important to us that all of our pupils are aware of the world beyond their locality. We are extremely fortunate to be named after a local wooded area and as such, have named our 12 classes after trees that live on our school grounds in order to bring this nature into our school in a more comprehensive manner.
A vital first step towards a deep geographical knowledge is being able to recognise changes over time and offering suitable reasons to why this has happened. At DWJS, we ensure that each topic covers cause and effect and how human interferences have both helped and hindered our world, such as deforestation or man-made natural disasters. We find that this allows the children to create strong opinions about the preservation of nature and allows independent thoughts and opinions to manifest, rather than being told how to feel and, in order for children to develop a deep passion for their world, this is a central skill to gain.
Geography is taught in topics at DWJS, and where appropriate, is linked to other topics across the curriculum in order to give comprehensive learning experience. Our Year 4 classes study the Titanic in History and have finished with a deeper understanding of weather conditions and natural circumstances that aided in its sinking. Where possible, in depth local studies that allow fun, hands on field work are common throughout the year groups; our Year 5 pupils enjoy a day out to Lullingstone Country Park every year to explore the river and the surrounding woodlands and Year 3 are welcomed to the school by a walk through Darrick Wood to learn about their local area. When learning about other countries beyond the UK, we use a variety of strategies both in and out of the classroom, such as topical debates, OS map work, research, drama and problem solving to ensure all our pupils become effective learners and engaged, local, national and global citizens.
History at DWJS
At DWJS, we recognise the importance of history and the part it plays in developing children’s understanding of the past and their place in time, their community, Britain and the wider world. On their journey through the school, our pupils take on the role of historians and are given regular opportunities to develop the skills necessary to fully comprehend enormous arcs and minute facts alike that changed the path of history.
When developing a secure understanding of chronology through clear narratives set out in both individual lessons and wider topics, pupils are encouraged to draw both similarities and differences between what they are currently learning and prior knowledge and, as the National Curriculum states, it is essential that pupils can recognise connections between eras and understand how cause and effect has shaped their history. Using fascinating artefacts, facsimiles, the internet and educational visits to undertake research, our pupils are exposed to a wide range of primary, secondary and tertiary sources that challenge their opinions and the believability of what is displayed as truth in their everyday lives and we encourage the pupils to ask questions and find answers about the social, political, economic, religious, scientific and cultural aspects of each period of time studied and discuss how this differs from the world they know today.
Consolidation of their understanding is also vital to us, and the pupils do this through a strong historical presence featured throughout the curriculum. We pride ourselves in teaching a wide array of relevant and interesting topics, from the Ancient Greek civilisation, through Viking battles and World War Two, to the arrival of the SS Empire Windrush and the impact that this has had on our children’s lives in 21st Century Britain. Where appropriate, a cross-curricular approach is adopted to studying history. Historical topics are enhanced through complimentary English lessons, in which classes read literature set in their given era and are given the opportunity to empathise with notable figures through diary entries, letters and newspaper reports. We study prominent artists or works of art from the time period in Art lessons and use the rights, policies and laws of the time as a discussion point in PSHE. Together, this allows pupils to create a well-rounded understanding of a time period, and produces the opportunity for valid historic questioning and for the pupils to formulate individual opinions, free from outside influences
History topics are usually taught through weekly lessons in term blocks, with two 'topic' areas covered each year. There are opportunities in each year group for independent research as well as self-organised group research projects. Every year group visits historical places of interests linked to their History topic to enhance the children's understanding. Resources from home are often used in home-learning projects linked to History. They build up the children’s knowledge of the topic and also serve as useful ways to build their vocabulary, which help greatly when the topic is linked to their English and other learning.
The main topics include:
- Year 3 – Pre-Roman Britain, Romans in Britain, Anglo-Saxons
- Year 4 – Vikings, Tudors
- Year 5 – Ancient Greeks, Victorians
- Year 6 – World War II & Coming to Britain, Mayas and Aztecs