This research reviews a sample of fifth-class children's definitions of geography. It was carried out after the publication of the Revised Primary School Curriculum (1999) but before any staff development had taken place for the implementation of this curriculum. Since the data was collected, staff development for the 1999 curriculum in geography has been timetabled for the 2005–2006 school year.
The data collected revealed most children had a clear idea what geography was, with the majority of children (97.3%) referring to one or more aspects of geography. Over half the children defined geography as being about themes and places. A clear emphasis on the learning of place names and fact learning came through in definitions. There were limited references to learning key ideas or concepts. Skills, with the exception of ‘maps’, were mentioned by few children. No child mentioned fieldwork. The definitions written by the children tended to reflect geography topics they had covered in school textbooks. The findings suggest areas of the 1999 curriculum that will be new to teachers and children and point to the challenges for the implementation of the curriculum.