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design remains likely, with decisions being made for and at secondary level, then filtered ‘down’ to primary schools. The emphasis on the secondary phase is evident through the greater emphasis on secondary curriculum and assessment in the White Paper and curriculum review (DfE 2010, 2011) and in ministerial briefings and speeches on raising older secondary age pupils’ achievements in comparison to other nations (Vasagar 2010). We argue that powerful knowledge as conceived by Young is insufficient in the primary context because it valorises academic knowl-edge above the everyday or ethno-knowledges (Begg 2006) that pupils bring with them into school. It is our contention that primary pupils’ (and primary teachers’) everyday or ethno-geographies should also be seen as valid forms of powerful knowledge, and that their incorporation into the curriculum constitutes a kind of ‘liberatory education’ (Freire 1972). We offer a revised model, rebalancing Young’s perspective, for how academic and ethno-geography can ground a geography curriculum that is based on a dialogic pedagogy (Alexander 2008). We are using geographical education here to illustrate an argument that we believe applies across the primary curriculum. Ethno-geography in the primary phase Ethno-geography as an idea emerged from the findings of a research study that showed how primary novice teachers’ conceptualisations of geography predominantly relied on memories of the geography they were taught in school (Martin 2008a, 2008b). When thinking about geography in a primary education context, novice teachers did not appear to recognise the value of their everyday experiences as a potential source of geographical knowledge, nor did they express an awareness that their personal geographies connected in any way with school geography. This ‘disconnection’ with the subject is problematic for a number of reasons, particularly because those who do not perceive the relevance of the subject will be unlikely to teach it in a way that is relevant to pupils, and because their lack of awareness of their knowledge base affects their ability to recognise the academic potential of pupils’ everyday geographies. This is supported by Ofsted’s (2008, 2011) analysis that many primary teachers’ geographical subject knowledge is weak. We contend that, because of their disconnection with the subject, coupled with the very minimal time allocated to humanities subjects in Initial Teacher Training (ITT) (Catling 2006), primary teachers have a problem making a distinction between information, knowledge and understanding. Thus, when thinking about the subject for teaching, their attention is focused on knowledge as information rather than knowledge

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