Geography is studied by all students in year 7 to 9. Students can choose to study the subject further in year 10 and 11, as one of their GCSE option choices.
Reason for sequencing the curriculum for every year group in the way it is, and the subject specific/pedagogical approach taken:
Year 7 begin with some basic fundamentals of what Geography is and how it is structured – this helps to ensure that pupils know what the subject is about, as this underpins the structure of the GCSE exam paper 1. They then learn continents and oceans, which are fundamental to describing place and also how to read and draw maps; a skill underpinning each unit, especially the importance of clarity and knowing heights/relief and OS symbols, as these maps appear in every unit throughout the 5 years. The second unit focuses on Britain, correcting simple but easily confused concepts of Great Britain, the UK and the British Isles. The assessment asks ‘was Brexit a good idea?’ which starts to introduce skills of analysing evidence and making a reasoned judgement, as well as offering the opportunity to develop critical thinking and challenge misconceptions portrayed by the mainstream media. These skills recur throughout the 5 years. A comparison of HIC/LIC countries also provides a starting point for impacts of earthquakes and globalization. Finally, the weather and climate, as well as climate change sections, gives important perspectives on current issues and gives an understanding required for topics 7 and 8 in year 11.
This year starts with the excitement of volcanoes and earthquakes. Through this we study impacts of natural disasters on humans and develop the empathy required to deal with extreme weather as a result of climate change, in year 11 and also with appropriate forms of aid in year 10. The comparison of impacts of disasters on HIC and LIC countries gives an understanding of these countries for the global cities topic in year 10 and also sets the grounding necessary to do globalization in the second half of year 8. The globalization topic then develops an understanding of the globally connected world and uses the empathy and evidence-analysis tools and skills begun in year 7 with Brexit, and developed through extreme events in year 8. Finally, ecosystems are studied with the contrasting ecosystems of Rainforests and Antarctica studied, which provides a basis for the study of ecosystems on a global scale in topic 6 of year 11.
Year 9 begins with a look at population and migration – a further opportunity to explore British values and tolerance started in the UK unit in year 7. Empathy and understanding is taught through migrant case studies. The second unit is rivers, which provides a second grounding in physical geography and introduces some of the processes of erosion, transportation and deposition required for the physical geography units 4 and 5 for Rivers and coasts in year 10 and 11. Understanding of flooding events builds on the work completed in response to natural disasters in year 8. The final unit in year 9 is tourism, which teaches social responsibility for those not going on to study geography in the upper school and gives the opportunity to explore the impacts of human activity in preparation, particularly water management in tourist honeypots such as Southern Spain which will be reviewed in topic 8 of Year 11.
At Key Stage 4, learning follows the Eduqas GCSE specification where paper 1 (the knowledge paper) is split into three themes and pupils work through each topic in turn, with theme 1 being covered in year 10, theme 2 in year 10 and 11 and theme 3 at the end of year 11 to draw the threads of themes 1 and 2 together. This allows for progressive build-up, with mock examinations covering an increasingly broad range of knowledge. At the end of each theme, an appropriate paper 2 is practised, which covers the decision-making element of each theme. In year 11, once relevant course content has been covered, paper 3 is introduced which provides two opportunities for fieldwork, required by the specification along with time to prepare and write-up the findings of each investigation.
How we build on prior learning:
Year 7 start with a benchmarking activity to mind map their previous knowledge of the aspects of geography which they will study on their learning journey. This is displayed as a poster in the geography classroom. The information is used to tailor activities and the time spent on particular concepts, as well as the challenge tasks which are presented to pupils in lessons.
All Key Stage 3 topics cover distinct and discrete aspects of geography, but common themes and assessment methods are elicited throughout the course. At Key Stage 4, topics allow extension and application of knowledge gained at Key Stage 3. Skills of empathy, evidence interpretation and comparison of responses in HICs and LICs are used throughout. Assessment questions follow those required for 8-marks at Key Stage 4, with shorter answer assessment questions in Key Stage 3 (practising the same skills that are required for each level at Key Stage 4 so that pupils are fully prepared for exams.)
How we prepare students for the future:
Geography encourages global awareness and critical thinking, so students are developing their ability to think for themselves about different places, cultures and impacts of human activity. They will also develop a respect and understanding of different places and environments. They will be more aware of different cultures, locations and contexts to enable them to be more tolerant citizens; leaving with a desire to learn more about the world around them and explore places beyond their home areas.
Students will also have had time to consider issues that they might see on the news such as suffering, migration, climate change, flooding and weather events. The subject helps develop a greater awareness of what is happening in the wider world outside of the school. Students will also understand how to interpret evidence in depth and so will not just accept as fact how the media presents ideas.
Critical thinking: each lesson, learners are provided with a range of source material, evidence and data which are assessed and critically evaluated in order for learners to develop their own critical thinking skills. At least one extended question in each assessment task will test progress on this skill.
ICT: learners are given the opportunity to use IT resources to produce a range of tasks. Computer simulations and digital mapping using the industry standard ArcGIS online suite, together with mobile applications, allow learners to experience the software which has become central to geography-based careers.
Research: learners are given the opportunity to conduct one piece of primary research fieldwork each year. Secondary research is conducted in class through the use of computing resources and the internet. Learners are taught throughout to assess the reliability and validity of their sources and cross-reference in order to ensure maximum accuracy.
Data analysis: throughout the geography curriculum, maps, diagrams, graphs and statistical data are presented including bid-rent curves, house price data, crime statistics, thematic and topographic maps, population pyramids and climate graphs. Learners have the continual opportunity to work with, draw and interpret each of these in order to prepare them for future professional applications.
Building relationships: global trade and inter-relationships between people across the globe are taught specifically to each year group in the following units: in the UK unit in year 7, globalisation in year 8 and tourism in year 9 and in each topic throughout years 10 and 11. Opportunities to understand the need for good relationships as well as professional co-operation are embedded in all units of study.
Problem solving: opportunities to develop problem solving skills are embedded in the geography curriculum in each unit. Specific decision-making tasks include the world trade game, factory location decision-making and volcano eruption role play in year 8 and flood prevention decision-making tasks in year 9. Throughout other units the opportunity to solve problems is developed through diamond ranking and card sort tasks in lessons.
Teamwork: learners are given the opportunity to work in teams with others to collect fieldwork data as well as group tasks in lessons which encourage co-operation as well as working together on group decision making tasks. Assessed projects such as the academic poster in year 8 also help to encourage professional team relationships.
Gap year Planning:
Geography is at the heart of any learner’s possible future direction in terms of taking a gap year. Responsible travel is taught in year 9 through the tourism unit and a range of opportunities are shown for volunteering for charities in locations such as Brazilian favelas, Bangladesh flood disaster zones, and on long-term aid projects such as the superducks from charities such as Christian Aid and Oxfam.
As learners are introduced to a wide variety of locations, situations and people around the world, as well as being taught a range of techniques and skills relevant to a career with a geographical element, learners are offered continued personal guidance as to the opportunities available to them and how the work that they are doing could be relevant to their futures.
Additional provision to support learning:
Pupils have the opportunity to read from a range of books, magazines and journals including National Geographic, the GCSE magazine ‘Wideworld’ and for those seeking to take the subject to university level, the Royal Geographical Society’s ‘Geographical’ academic journal. They have the opportunity to review reading and receive rewards for doing so.
Field trips are undertaken in the local area in year 7 to get them used to the idea of an individual investigation with further trips planned in year 8 and 9 to local rivers and sealife centre to give them experience of different environments.
Fieldwork at Key Stage 4 is the exam-board required two opportunities which are to contrasting urban and coastal areas in the local area, such as Felixstowe, Southwold, Norwich and Bury St Edmunds.