Teaching Geography in Secondary Schools: A Reader

By Maggie Smith | Go to book overview

6

Continuity and progression

Trevor Bennetts

Continuity and progression are widely recognised as desirable qualities within a curriculum. The National Curriculum, with its programmes of study and attainment targets, was intended to strengthen both qualities within the education provided for pupils between the ages of 5 and 16. The revisions to the Order for Geography appear to be a mixed blessing, weakening some aspects of continuity while in other respects making it much easier to plan for progression in pupils' learning. Before delving into details, it may be useful to clarify the distinction between the two concepts.

The idea of continuity suggests the persistence of significant features of geographical education as pupils move through the school system. Such features could include aspects of content, particular types of learning activity or common assumptions about the nature of the subject. With strong continuity, it is possible to design courses which enable pupils to build upon their previous experience and learning; and, thereby, help them to acquire knowledge and develop their understanding, skills and competencies in a structured way. Continuity of provision and approach can be looked for both within and between schools.

The idea of progression, on the other hand, focuses on how pupils' learning advances. It can be applied both to the design of a curriculum, in particular how the structure of content and sequence of learning activities are intended to facilitate advances in learning, and to the gradual gains in knowledge, understanding, skills and competencies which pupils actually achieve. The idea of progression is complementary to that of continuity. While continuity of curricular provision provides opportunities for advances in learning, by itself it does not guarantee them. Progres sion has to be planned for and monitored, and the only effective way of doing the latter is by the use of assessment.


The scope for continuity

The inclusion of Geography as a foundation subject within the National Curriculum was itself an important step towards promoting continuity. While Dearing's recommendation that Geography should be allocated at least 36 hours per year in Key Stage 1, and 45 hours per year in Key Stages 2 and 3 may not satisfy everyone, it should ensure that all pupils have the benefit of a sustained encounter with the

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