Students will have a curiosity of the world around both in places and processes whilst appreciating its diversity. A similar view held by Barack Obama – ‘It’s about understanding the complexity of our world, appreciating the diversity of cultures that exist across continents’ (Obama 2012)
Students will have an appreciation of the issues, challenges and possible solutions in the world around them at a range of scales. A focus supported by Reigeluth et al 1983 – ‘it is important that pupils are able to consider scale and have the ability to zoom in and zoom out in order to view processes and their impact from local, regional, national and international perspectives’
Students will gain skills of analysis using a range of data that can be applied across a range of subjects and beyond school both in work and everyday life.
Students will be able to assess and evaluate their own and others work to develop plans to enhance quality of knowledge, skills and understanding. To be able to review progress with a desire to improve.
Students will demonstrate Christian values of empathy, tolerance and compassion.
In Geography, our intent is for the curriculum to promote a curiosity about the world for our learners. The teaching of the subject is by teachers passionate about Geography who aim to harness curiosity in an enjoyable manner. The curriculum will enable our learners to be confident to understand and ask questions about the world around them. The intent is to develop a holistic knowledge of the subject at Key Stage Three in order to create a platform to build on at GCSE. It is our intent for Geography to be learned inside and outside of the classroom. If our students do not pick Geography at GCSE, we want them to take a responsible attitude towards the world and adopt a life-long learning approach. We will support our learners to develop skills that are transferable across all subjects and employment in later life. We will develop knowledge in students to enable them to thrive in lessons and create schemata. Learning will be developed from the three core subjects to develop learners’ skills, knowledge and understanding. Learners will be inspired to continue the study of Geography Post 16. The learners will ‘think like a geographer’. A phrase that really means to know one context from another, to think of alternative futures and to consider their influence on decisions that will be made (Ofsted,2021)
All students follow a three year course of Geography. This focuses on key geographical areas intended to give a broad curriculum but also to prepare student for later examination courses and for those who do not study beyond KS3. It is also intended to build on the experience children have of the subject in primary schools. However, whilst clearly part of the primary national curriculum which clearly sets out exactly what geography students are to learn by set ages (F Martin 2012) this is often not fully followed. As a result ‘most primary pupils are taught little geography’ (S Catling et al 2021). This is evidenced by the geographical audit carried out at the start of Year 7 within the school. Geographical knowledge and skills in depth within this audit are mostly found outside the school setting. This lack of skills and knowledge was further supported by Ofsted 2020. For those who do not continue the aim is to leave a positive, happy and enjoyable experience of Geography. Geography lays a platform in KS3 to be used throughout all key stages of studying knowledge, understanding and skills. It essence it follows the concepts approach noted by Ofsted 2021. This allows it to be broken into bitesize chunks before the gradual implementation of linking each. A process that allows fuller conceptual appreciation (Brooks 2018). The reality is though that whilst this concept approach leads, the units can’t be studied without at times combining all 3. Year 7 coasts is a focused on processes such as flooding in places using mapskills for example. Year 7 focuses on places (India), processes (Coasts) and skills (map and atlas skills). Within the topic of India the choice of case studies used is key to highlight the ‘full appreciation of the diversity of the country’ (Ofsted, 2021). This is further supported in KS3 of an updating of Case study material when appropriate so that they do not ‘portray inaccurate or outdated stereotypical representations’ (Biddulph 2011). Mapskills is a particular important unit to study early in KS3 as it is the ‘language of Geography’ (JA LaSpina 1998). This then allows representations and patterns to be able to be used later in KS3 and beyond. The end of Year 7 focuses on a local area study. This incorporates GIS as part of pupils ‘spatial literacy’ and bringing cartographic skills in the digitial age (Walsh and Healy 2020). Year 8 focuses on combined places and processes – Weather, Tropical Rainforests, Global Fashion Trade and Geographic Issues. Global fashion allows students to gain knowledge about the world beyond their own experience (Maude, A 2016) and gain empathy with others in the world. Geographical ethics and sustainability begin to be particularly developed within these topics. Year 9 focuses on combined places and processes – Rivers and flooding, Tectonic Hazards and Tourism. Within each unit opportunities are explored to give a curiosity of the world whilst highlighting issues and solutions on a range of scales. Across Key Stage 3 the aim is to cover the four key form of geographical knowledge – locational knowledge, place knowledge and understanding, knowledge of environmental, physical and human geography processes and geographical skills (DFE 1991 onwards).
The curriculum is designed so that aspects can be linked. Locational knowledge for example in Year 7 map atlas skills unit is then used in Year 8 for rainforest location. In Year 8 sweatshops are introduced as part of the globalisation of fashion unit. This builds on knowledge of India first introduced during the India unit in Year 7. All KS3 units are covered in some form at GCSE where the knowledge is used as a beginning point. Students are assessed using standardised tests and marking schemes both at midpoint and end of the unit. This assessment focuses on during feedback points to improve for future as well as success. This allows clear ‘understanding of assessment criteria’ (Ofsted 2021) to apply for future assessment. This repetition of style allows easy recall later in the Key Stage as well as GCSE so ‘that they have practised it to the point that they need give little conscious thought’ (Ofsted, 2021) Wording and question styles are designed to mirror GCSE exams differentiated to the Year group. So that progression can be seen within these of difficulty. Testing focuses on a combination of knowledge, understanding and skill again to mirror GCSE exams. Homework is focused on these assessments and uses the Doddle system to support and monitor students. In addition keyword homework supports literacy. Words reflect those likely to be used in the GCSE curriculum with an added focus on high frequency words. The department places emphasis on literacy throughout by using the school COPS policy. Particular focus is given during assessment on the demands of questions and the understanding of these. In addition the specific nature of language used in responses to fully access all parts of mark schemes by using language that makes arguments clear.
GCSE: Students follow the AQA Geography course 35 which flows into the A-Level of course. The course is taught by two specialist geography teachers. The exam is divided into 3 papers. The course is largely taught in the order of the papers and the order within the paper. This makes it clearer what to revise and when and what parts of the course questions are aimed at. As Ofsted 2021 noted ‘by learning each component in an ordered way’ This is particularly needed for Paper 2 which is slightly ambiguous for students to interpret. Optional units in Paper 2 choose subjects where knowledge and understanding is built upon from earlier years (Coastal Landscapes and River Landscapes). The option unit not studied has lower marks nationally and has less relevance to students – Glacial and Cold Environments. This choice is supported as ‘pupils are more motivated when they learn knowledge they can link to’ (Bent et al, 2014). Neither is studied earlier in school. Paper 2 chooses options (World Food Resources) that has a greater interest to students. Option units at Paper 2 affect a small amount of marks. Paper 3 uses Llandudno as the location to gain ‘fieldwork experience’. This is close to school and accessible on a one day fieldtrip in a safe environment teachers are familiar with. Teacher’s expertise of coursework moderation is used to design the specific nature of the ‘fieldwork experience’. The teaching of all 3 papers focuses on knowledge, understanding and skills.
Progression is monitored using regular standardised GCSE end of unit tests in all classes completed and marked at actual exam standard. Students exam access arrangement are consistent applied where appropriate. This allows focus on ‘any misconceptions the pupils have as well as any gaps in pupil’s knowledge’ (Ofsted, 2021). Feedback on exam technique is throughout the course but particularly focused on these. Again use is made of the departments’ extensive and up to date AQA exam board marking experience to focus this area of teaching. The GCSE syllabus is delivered in a manner to allow children of all abilities to access it using a range of activities and learning styles to access it. Children with particular needs are taught using knowledge of them as individuals alongside best practice given by specialists within the school e.g. ASD base or SENCO. Where appropriate teaching assistants
are integrated into the lesson both in planning and delivery to support individual student’s needs. Homework is focused on end of unit tests and incorporates the use of Doddle aimed at specific tests. In addition quick low stake ‘AO1’ tests are performed during each unit to allow recall.
For exams in the Year 2022 the Llandudno fieldtrip and ‘fieldwork experience’ part of the course will not take place. This is as a result of its omission from the exam paper after a decision to reduce content for the year by Ofqual. This will resume the following year on the assumption section C of Paper 3 is added back to the paper.
BTEC: Students follow the BTEC Level 2 Award in Travel and Tourism and is taught by one specialist teacher. The course is designed to give all learners the knowledge and skills required to pursue further education within this subject area or follow a career path within one of the fastest growing industries in the UK. Pupils will investigate, plan and explore a stimulating introduction into the world of travel and tourism, the importance of travel and tourism to the UK, customer service and key destinations. Pupils will gain an insight into some of the key areas within the sector, including customer types, accommodation, tourism development and promotion, transport and visitor attractions. Assessment is mainly through task-based assignments so pupils can demonstrate their knowledge and skills in real-world scenarios linked to the unit content (Units 2: UK Travel and Tourism, 3: The Travel and Tourism Customer Experience and 4: International Travel and Tourism Destinations). Unit 1: The UK Travel and Tourism Sector, is an externally assessed unit by written exam in January of year 11. The combination of units studied gives the right balance between challenge and engagement but also delivers practical knowledge and skills that can be built on, such as self-reflection, communication, teamwork and problem solving will also support their progress onto Level 3 Travel and Tourism or employment.
A Level: Students follow AQA Geography 7037. Students also study AQA at GCSE resulting in a flow between the two courses.
Coursework NEA –Students are prepared for their independent coursework NEA by giving advice within AQA guidelines. Appropriate feedback is given to ensure questions and locations are chosen to undertake fieldwork. Students are instructed on how the coursework NEA is marked focusing on key areas and standards. Fieldwork is undertaken by the students independently over the summer holidays. This allows enough time to write coursework NEA up at the start of Year 13 so it is complete before Christmas to focus on exams. The two units that nearly all coursework NEA originates from are taught first in Year 12: Contemporary Urban Environments and Coastal Systems and Landscapes. The units they don’t cover in NEA coursework are taught last in Year 13 which also need greatest subject knowledge which is then fresher – Ecosystems under Stress / Globalisation and Governance. Ecosystems under Stress in addition links with Water and Carbon Cycle, with knowledge gained in the former alongside casestudies being using as a starting point in the later. Expertise teaching coursework uses members of the departments moderation work for AQA.
Exams Paper 1 (Physical) & 2 (Human): Two teachers deliver their own specialist area which reflects their geographical background. They are given equal teaching time. Optional units are selected to build on themes from GCSE – Hazards and Contemporary Urban Environments. These also again reflect teacher’s specialisms. Each side of the course has its own scheme of learning and is adapted to suit the needs of the cohort each year. Both units focus on up to date and local Case Studies where appropriate resulting in a continually evolving course. Students are encouraged to read beyond the subject especially being aware of current events that can be applied to the units studied. A dedicated A-Level twitter feed supports this delivering quality appropriate news and articles. Exam technique unique to A-Level is taught throughout the course with a focus on 20 mark questions that is new to students and key to subject success due to their weighting in the exam. Extensive use of past and specimen questions is used to achieve this. Skills are taught as part of the delivery of knowledge and distinctly when appropriate.
SEND / Supporting vulnerable students
The curriculum is designed so that students of all abilities can access it by using a range of activities to suit all learning styles. Children with particular needs are taught using knowledge of them as individuals alongside best practice given by specialists within the school e.g. ASD base or SENCO. This includes the provision of special resources that are accessible for specific needs. Topics are signposted at the beginning to allow students to organise themselves and visualise their learning. This is further supported by frameworks to give focus and additional structure in revision. Regular knowledge recall exercises allow students to embed knowledge. These systems continue through all key stages to sixth form. Teaching Assistants are very much part of the delivery of the subject and are integrated into lessons both in planning and supporting students. It is taken into account that ‘few teaching assistants have the same geographical knowledge as the teacher’ (Pook, B 2017). Knowledge of students and in particular their learning styles is used to support their KS4 option decisions within the department guiding them towards GCSE Geography or BTEC Travel and Tourism. Literacy is supported with the focus of keywords within unit studies. Tests ensure time is spent understanding these. The departmental moto is emphasized within lessons and communication ‘Understanding the world around you’ as part of ‘research showing that pupils are more motivated when they learn knowledge they can link to’ (Bent et al, 2014). Personal experience of the world around them is used to generate this. Where possible students are taken on outside educational visits to further embed knowledge, understanding and skills. These cover all key stages through to sixth form. Students with SEN or PP are highly encouraged to take part in these and supported financially where appropriate. Included within this is topicality in the news drawing out the geography behind news stories. The nature of many units makes geography a highly visual subject that is used to enhance learning through image and other media. Within the department there are 3 specialist geography classrooms designed to meet the needs of all students both visually and equipment wise. These also provide a reassuring constant to those pupils who need structure and familarisation of rooms and seating plans.
The effective use of Teaching Assistants across the department
We are fortunate to have a specialist Teaching Assistant who has secure knowledge of many geographical themes and concepts. Weekly planning meetings ensures that all staff are have clear expectations of support needed. Teaching Assistants will support students of all abilities and needs, predominantly across KS4 classes. The underlying theme is to provide the ‘least support first’ and to enable students to build levels of independence across the subject. This involves pre-teaching core concepts and scaffolding techniques which is used with a range of students. Teaching Assistants also play a vital role in the development of literacy across the department, working through tier three vocabulary with students at the beginning and end of most lessons. They also support pre-teaching specific students to enable them to gain confidence in a specific concept or exam question prior to the lesson, which enables targeted intervention to be formally assessed. We also believe that all students should have equal access to teaching staff, involving an inclusive approach, where the support of teaching assistants is well planned and justified. Non specialist teaching assistants also play a vital role across the department and are provided with clear instructions at the start of each lesson. This enables them to target specific students, based on prior knowledge and formative assessment methods, providing subsequent feedback at the end of the session. Geographical skills and out of class enrichment activities are attended by our link Teaching Assistant who works strategically with enable students of all ability levels and needs to gain the maximum outcome from the experience. This often involves pre-teaching specific concepts and skills prior to the experience.
Students are given the opportunity to experience geography beyond the classroom in a range of locations and environments covering all Key Stages. Fieldwork is a key part of Geography as a subject both in skill and knowledge acquisition. There is an importance within the department for this as Ofsted 2020 noted ‘a paucity of meaningful fieldwork’ in the primary curriculum.
Year 7 have the opportunity visit Blue Planet Aquarium as part of their work on Coral Reefs. They also visit Hilbre Island in the coastal unit studying coastal erosion and wildlife. Later in the Year the whole year group completes a local area of study of Handbridge focusing on fieldwork skills. A Bollywood club has run during the winter term expanding pupil’s cultural horizons as part of the place unit on India.
Year 8 have the opportunity to visit Chester Zoo to perform workshops with their educational team focusing on adaptation to rainforests of plants and animals.
Year 9 have the opportunity to visit Loggerheads Country Park to develop river fieldwork skills and tourism management.
GCSE students visit Llandudno to collect data as part of their ‘fieldwork experience’ for Paper 3.
A-Level students visit a range of locations annually to develop case study knowledge and fieldwork techniques. These include Liverpool, Chester and coastal areas of Anglesey. They have also attended conferences given by leading academics such as Professor Iain Stewart on Tectonic Hazards
We have links with the Geographical Association (GA) and Chester University Department of Geography and International Development. This includes each year attending the annual GA World Wise Quiz at Chester University which we have won in the past! Also the Chester University Year 9 Climate Change workshop also on the campus. Sixth form students attend Improving Exam Performance Conference led by David Redfearn former AQA chief examiner ran by the GA at the university. Lecturers at Chester University have also given guest lectures in the school.
The department supports students beyond the classroom at GCSE running comprehensive revision sessions fortnightly to support performance at the GCSE exam throughout Year 11.
Cultural capital is the accumulation of knowledge, behaviours, and skills that a student can draw upon and which demonstrates their cultural awareness, knowledge and competence; it is one of the key ingredients a student will draw upon to be successful in society, their career and the world around them.
Students learn about how political decisions can cause change in the world around them. In Year 7 they learn how India is rising as a Superpower both politically and demographically. Whilst at GCSE international organisations and their links to the UK are studied such as the Commonwealth and the EU. This continues through to Year 13 where a unit is dedicated to world governance.
They learn about the powerful economic forces around them that are bringing about changes to the way that will affect their future careers. In Year 8 students study the globalisation of the fashion industry and their links to sweatshops. At GCSE a unit is dedicated to the changing nature of the UK economy and in particular how it links to their future employment. Those that continue in A Level study an entire unit on Globalisation and the increasing implications this means for students as the world becomes more integrated and interdependent. BTEC Travel and Tourism develops this further by preparing students for careers in the world second biggest industry.
Socially the students learn about how countries are at different stages of development and how the lives of people living there are very different. This is also applied to the UK with differing Quality of Life found in different places. In Year 8 students learn about the lives of ship breakers in Bangladesh and why they work in such conditions. At GCSE lower Quality of life is studied in parts of UK cities with focus on Kensington in Liverpool whilst slums within Rio de Janeiro are a key focus for the NEE Cities unit. Those that continue to A Level study a wide range of places that illustrate the key concept of the Development Continuum. For example, Curitiba in Brazil is used as a casestudy for the attempts to reduce urban inequality and improve sustainability.
Geography also helps to explain the many environmental issues that are changing the world in which these students live and how to make sense of these effects. In Year 8 students learn about the destruction of Tropical Rainforests and the causes of this as well as the impacts and solutions. At GCSE a unit is dedicated to Global Food Supply which includes the environmental impacts of food supply and attempts to make this more sustainable. Those that continue to A Level study a range of issues and solutions. These include the physical and human threats to Antarctica as an example of a Global Commons and the attempts to manage these. BTEC Travel and Tourism emphasises this further by a focus on the balance between tourism and the impact it has on the environments that draw people to them in the first place.
The strongest aspect of Geography is the interdependent links between all aspects of the subject and beyond. There is an inability to study any one topic without understanding its place at a range of scales, without understanding the links between cause, effect and solutions, without appreciating the mutual interaction between the human and natural worlds and without seeing its wider place within the curriculum. It is a powerful bridging subject that has strong cross curricular links to many of the cultural capital topics the students will study in school and come across beyond. As a result, students within the subject are given an awareness ethics and sustainability. To formulate and ask questions. To take this information and present, summarise, analyse, draw conclusions and evaluate it in a range of formats from Year 7 (Local area study) to GCSE (Llandudno fieldwork) and A Level (NEA writeup). Geography gives students an understanding of the world around them today and in the future with skills to successfully operate within it
Cross curricular integration
A – Level Business – A number of students follow both courses. The case study of Cadburys as a Transnational Corporation is taught intentionally by both. Globalisation and Governance a Year 13 Geography unit Paper 2 (Theme 4 at A-Level Business) is covered by both subjects covering areas on the Business side such as TNC marketing, ethics and environmental impact. Cross over is emphasised when teaching.
GCSE Business – Crossover occurs on Geography Paper 2 UK Economy both teaching business location
- Ecosystems – pupils learn about the impact of the damage being done to coral reefs around the world and the impact of this. This unit is taught in Geography around October/November and the ideas are then built on in Science during the summer term.
- Weathering – brief introduction to weathering in year 7 Geography built on in Science in year 8
- Climate Change and sustainability during the summer term in conjunction with this topic which is taught in Science during the summer term, allowing ideas to be reinforced.
- Energy Y9 in Science – pupils will later study renewable energy and sustainable transport in year 11 Geography (Resources section Paper 2)
- Y9 Tectonics – pupils study earthquake theory and later revisit this in GCSE Science in year 11
- Climate change (the evidence for it, its cause, impact and the response to it) during year 10 Geography Paper 1 Hazards section and build upon it in Chemistry towards the end of year 11 in the Atmosphere topic and the Ecology in Action
- GCSE Ecosystems, Tropical Rainforests and Hot Deserts – Pupils study food chains and food webs and the adaptations of organisms to tropical rainforests and deserts in year 10 Geography (Paper 1 Living World section); this is further developed in the Biology topic Ecology in Action towards the end of year 11 where students study the adaptations of organisms towards their environment.
- Students study carbon and water cycles following similar knowledge areas as A-level Biology and building upon GCSE Biology topic Ecology in Action towards the end of year 11
A – Level Media – A-Level students interpret sources using skills present in both areas. These skills are emphasised when completing work primarily on Changing Places unit. This also intentionally uses sources they have studied at GCSE English – London by William Blake which they are familiar with.
Transition learning opportunities Year 7 on entering the school are all given a standardised Geography baseline test which is focused on skill rather than knowledge. Results show a very clear ability in geography.
On entry students complete a geographical audit of previous learning focusing on geographic processes, places and skills to inform teaching. Awareness of Geography taught at primary school is enhanced by offering support and guidance to local primary schools where sought.
- B Obama 2012 National Spelling Bee
- T Willy and S Catling, ‘Geography at the heart of the primary curriculum’, Impact Journal of the Chartered College of Teaching, September 2018.
- F Martin, ‘What is geography’s place in the primary school curriculum?’, in ‘Debates in geography education’, edited by D Lambert and M Jones, 1st edition, Routledge, 2012, pages 1 to 18
- S Catling, R Bowles, J Halocha, F Martin and S Rawlinson, ‘The state of geography in English primary schools’, in ‘Geography’, Volume 92, Issue 2, 2007, pages 118 to 136; ‘Geography in outstanding primary schools’, Ofsted, May 2021
- ‘Geography in outstanding primary schools’, Ofsted, May 2021. Ofsted inspected 23 primary schools graded outstanding at their previous inspection in 2020
- Ofsted 2021 ‘Research review series: geography
- C Brooks, ‘Understanding conceptual development’, in ‘Debates in geography education’, edited by M Jones and D Lambert, 2nd edition, Routledge, 2018, pages 103 to 113, quote on page 109
- ‘Geography in the national curriculum’, Department for Education and Skills, 1991; ‘Geography in the national curriculum’, Department for Education, 1995; ‘The national curriculum for England: geography’, Department for Education/Qualifications and Curriculum Authority, 1999; ‘Geography: programme of study’, Qualifications and Curriculum Authority, 2007; ‘National curriculum in England: geography programmes of study’, Department for Education, 2013
- JA LaSpina, ‘When image meets word’, in ‘The visual turn and the transformation of the textbook’, edited by JA LaSpina, Routledge, 1998, pages 27 to 57
- N Walsh and G Healy, ‘Introduction. Navigating the digital world as geographers and geography educators’, in ‘Geography education in the digital world’, edited by N Walsh and G Healy, Routledge, 2020, pages 1 to 4
- A Maude, ‘What might powerful geographical knowledge look like?’, in ‘Geography’, Volume 101, Issue 2, 2016, pages 70 to 76
- C Reigeluth and F Stein, ‘The elaboration theory of instruction’, in ‘Instructional design theories and models’, Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 1983, pages 335 to 381
- M Biddulph, ‘Editorial: the danger of a single story’, in ‘Teaching Geography’, Volume 36, Issue 2, 2011, page 45; C Adichie, ‘The danger of a single story’, TEDGlobal, July 2009
- B Pook, ‘Inclusive geography for students with complex learning needs’, in ‘Teaching Geography’, Volume 42, Issue 2, 2017, pages 57 to 59
- G Bent, A Bakx and P den Brok, ‘Pupils’ perceptions of geography in Dutch primary schools: goals, outcomes, classrooms environment, and teacher knowledge and performance’, in ‘Journal of Geography’, Volume 113, Issue 1, 2014, pages 20 to 34