Geography provides an understanding of the world around us, both human and physical and how the two are interconnected. It encourages students to ask the ‘why’ questions about their surroundings and debate current issues. Students are given an appreciation of global issues, their impact at different scales, particularly their local area.
We aim for students of all abilities to gain a love for learning and question the world around them and how people impact it. It is expected that students will recognise geographical themes that run through all their topics, demonstrating that their learning is all inter-connected. Students should have an in depth geographical knowledge and understanding about a range of contemporary issues, such as migration, climate change, international conflict and ecosystems under threat. Migration is a very current and controversial issue and students need to be challenged on their stereotypes. Climate change is a very present threat and one that needs students need to link to their way of life and how they can make a difference. Land is a sought after resource in today’s world and ecosystems such as tropical rainforests are being exploited as a result. Students need to be able to see how a global threat can impact them on a local level. This broad, rich curriculum will help shape and change students’ perspective on issues that they have not seen as relevant to them before, allowing them to become a global citizen and make informed judgements on their own. Students are challenged to identify links across the curriculum and how processes link to one another, rather than view them in isolation. Examples include food chains and climate change in Science, statistical techniques in Maths and industrialisation in History.
The geography curriculum is always a changing one, subject to different cohorts of students with different interest and needs as well as local, national and global events in the world, such as conflict over water resources in the Middle East to local flooding in Cumbria.
The KS3 curriculum is planned and sequenced into five themes:
- Water World
- Analytical World
- Moving World
- Diverse World
- Threatened World
Students can follow each theme as they move from Year 7 to 9. This enables students to link prior learning to current learning, which gives them confidence, leading to more sustained progress. In addition to these themes, topics shift from local to national to international Geography as well as alternating between physical and human topics. Current news articles are used where appropriate, such as the challenge of the UK’s ageing population and threats to coral reefs.
By the end of Year 7, students should have a clear understanding of water resources and our rights, geographical skills, threats to ecosystems, impacts of tourism and the contrasting continent of Africa.
By the end of Year 8, students should have a clear understanding of coastal processes, threats and management, extended geographical skills, population and migration over time, the rise of China OR conflict in the Middle East and risky places to live.
By the end of Year 9, students move to an in depth UK focus and should have a clear understanding of landscapes of the UK and understood the complex processes in their formation. Students will have also explored the diversity of the UK in terms of people, industry and migration.
All of these KS3 topics have been carefully chosen as many link to the local community e.g. tourism in Silloth and Keswick and coastal threats along the Solway coast. Population issues link to the UK right now and the issues we face of an ageing population, which will have a direct impact on our students and they can consider options for the future. Topics such as ‘risky places’, ‘The Middle East’ and ‘contrasting continent of Africa’ enable students to step outside of their local world and compare and contrast ways of life, education, healthcare, politics and how our world is interconnected.
GCSE Geography Specification – OCR A
By the end of Year 10, students will have an in depth understanding of UK geographical issues, including river and coastal landscapes, changes within UK society, its population and development and environmental challenges the UK faces, such as the link between extreme weather and flooding.
By the end of Year 11, students will have broadened their learning to global issues, including threats to and sustainable management of coral reefs and tropical rainforests, causes of uneven development and the differences between countries and environmental threats such as climate change with an investigation into possible causes and current consequences.
Subject specialists deliver the curriculum, presenting it clearly and allowing discussion as much as possible in order to challenge students’ view of the world. Real life case studies at local, national and international scales provide students with knowledge and cultural capital.
Clear objectives are provided, divided into ability so that all students can access the course content. Effective starters and plenaries are used as well as self and peer marking to check their understanding. Assessment criteria sheets are always given to students prior to a task so that students can aim for a specific goal. All learning types and educational needs are catered for through different approaches, such as decision making exercises, presentations, independent research, model making and local fieldwork.
Literacy is a priority within Geography with a focus on key vocabulary for each unit, which students are expected to know and use with their writing. Reading tasks are varied and students are often asked to analyse articles and categorise information, for example, primary and secondary impacts of earthquakes.
Students need to be assessed in different ways in order to showcase their individual strengths. End of unit tests are always taken for each unit of work across the year, which enables the teacher to gauge what knowledge and understanding has taken place for each student. Extended writing questions are now embedded into these tests, which provides a high level of challenge for students. These are moderated with other local schools as well as a link in the South East, to ensure consistency is applied in the marking process. Geographical skill style questions are also used to enable students to apply mathematical knowledge, concepts and procedures that are age appropriate. In order to allow students to demonstrate their different learning styles, other assessments are completed in the middle of units, such as group decision making activities about international aid, a letter to the local council about coastal management strategies and local fieldwork and the write-up of that.
Real life, case study knowledge is developed throughout key stage 3, which prepare students well for the KS4 and how to apply that knowledge to a range of new, challenging questions, for example, ‘to what extent do you agree…’ This challenges students to argue their case and justify their arguments with solid evidence; a vital skill for later on in life.
At the end of Year 11, students sit three geography papers – ‘Living in the UK today’, ‘The World around Us’ and ‘Geographical Skills’. The skills paper challenges students to think synoptically, which means the ability to pull different strands of the course together and link them effectively. Two compulsory field trips are also completed in Year 10, which involves a river study and a city study. Students must be able to write about these in their skills paper.
Evaluation sheets are completed after assessments so that feedback can be acted upon and progress throughout the year is monitored on grids at the front of every student’s book or folder.
Overall, the KS3 and KS4 Geography curriculum prepares students well for next stage of education in terms of writing coherently and developing responses, using subject specific vocabulary as well as place-specific knowledge. Mathematical skills are incorporated and link well to Science and Maths.
This curriculum has been thought out carefully with the over-arching aim of simply encouraging students to make their own judgements on current issues by weighing up the evidence that they are presented with. This is what makes a great geographer.
Link to GCSE
Students at Solway study the OCR A specification and three examinations are taken at the end of Year 11.