The study of geography allows students to make sense of the world around them at a variety of scales, from local to global. It teaches them about the processes behind what they see; both in the human and physical world.
Geography is so much more than just looking at maps and knowledge of country capitals, though there is a place within the subject for both. All places and spaces have a history behind them, which have been shaped by people, the earth or the climate. The study of geography allows students to know more about these.
We want all our geography students to see themselves as global citizens and have a strong sense of environmental responsibility. Through the topics they study, students will develop a strong sense of agency where they feel empowered to contribute to change. They will develop a greater awareness of global environmental issues and understand how our actions can impact the lives of others and the environment.
Throughout both key stage 3 and 4, students will be introduced to 4 key geographical concepts and they will revisit these throughout their study of geography. Their knowledge and understanding of these concepts will develop over time and they will help the students to not only make connections to their prior learning but also enable them to pick up new knowledge and deepen their understanding of issues. The four we have chosen to focus specifically on are:
- Location and Place
- Cause and Effect
- Decision making
How does our key stage 4 curriculum fit into the school’s ethos of Respect, Engage and Aspire?
Students demonstrate care for the environment. Through the study of topics such as forests under threat and consuming energy, students learn about and understand their responsibilities as active, global citizens and we provide opportunities for students to support the development of a sustainable world through global petitions and raising awareness of ingredients in our food like palm oil which is causing damage to our forests.
Throughout the geography course, links are made to why the knowledge they are learning is relevant to their lives. Possible careers which could utilise the skills and knowledge the students are learning are highlighted to them. Students who are studying geography are encouraged to be part of the humans right group and the eco group. Students enhance their knowledge of content covered in class through fieldtrips. Many students in year 11 will not have visited parts of Newcastle like Benwell and this is an important experience for them to understand how their life differs from others in terms of their lived experience. Topics such as development and challenges of an urbanising world, help students to understand their place in the world and provide opportunities to explore the wider world.
Students completing the GCSE course leave with a range of skills and knowledge in order to make informed choices in their adult lives. E.g. where they live, the range of careers they could go into using geography, the choices their make in terms of the products they buy, the charities they support and the issues they feel most strongly about when choosing the political party to vote for. Whenever the opportunity arises, careers which utilise the skills and knowledge that students are gaining, are highlighted.
During the GCSE course, students conduct two pieces of fieldwork. We have planned the course so that they rivers fieldtrip takes place in June when the river conditions are safe to enter the river and also so that students can see in real life, what they have just learnt in the classroom. We do the river study in Hexham for convenience and also so students can assess flood risk in their own town. In year 11, students conduct a piece of urban fieldwork and we choose to do this in September when the weather is still favourable. Also, having completed the river study just before the summer holidays, the 6-stage enquiry process is still quite familiar to them enabling them to take greater ownership of the fieldwork and gain a more secure level of knowledge and understanding of the skills and knowledge needed. By completing both pieces of fieldwork by the November mock, we can complete a whole paper 2 exam paper.
Year 9 (KS3)
The key stage 3 course plans for progression should students continue onto GCSE but equally it has been designed to ensure students who complete their studies at the end of year 9, still have the powerful knowledge which they can use to inform their choices and make sense of the world around them. We want all our students to leave school with a strong sense of agency where they feel that they can make a positive difference in the world and can influence change for the good. Given the global environmental challenges we face this century, it is important for our students to have a sense of environmental responsibility and to understand the challenges and how they can be tackled. We want our students to have connections with their local area as well as a having a broader knowledge of the world beyond their day to day lives and so our curriculum not only covers the Hexham area but also further afield in countries such as India, Haiti, and Japan to name a few.
Years 10 & 11 (KS4)
Our key stage 4 GCSE course follows the Edexcel B specification. This was carefully chosen from 4 other exam boards due to its issues-based approach with the specification content organised by UK and Global geography. It also includes a decision-making paper, which allows students to investigate people-environment issues on a global scale.
Our intent has been carefully designed to be progressive in terms of challenge. The GCSE course starts in the last half term of year 9 with the Development topic which will be familiar to most students having covered ‘Why are some countries more developed than others?’ topic in year 7. This topic connects their prior knowledge to more complex content but does so gently so that students don’t feel overwhelmed by totally new content at the start of the course.
The year 10 topics are generally the more accessible topics in year 10 with more challenging content being saved until year 11 when students have acquired a range of skills and strategies to cope with more complex ideas such as the global atmospheric circulation model. These topics are also left until close to the exam so that they are fresh in the students’ minds and so don’t need a lot of recap and revision before the exam.
We have looked closely at the topics students have studied in their middle schools to ensure that students don’t get bored and/or complacent having already covered a topic in their first/middle school. We leave sufficient time before revisiting and building on their prior knowledge so that the knowledges remain in the student’s long term memory through overlearning.
Years 10 and year 11 have been designed so that paper 2 is covered largely in year 10 and paper 1 in year 11. This is to enable us to complete a whole paper 2 exam in the first mock so that we have a reliable set of data on which to make predictions. Within each of the two years, we have planned the sequence of units to ensure there is both breadth and balance within the curriculum to maintain engagement. Some students enjoy the physical topics more than the human ones and visa versa and so there is a balance between human and physical topics in each year. This also creates opportunities for recapping and overlearning as it enables concepts and processes to be revisited later in the year as they often appear in more than one topic.
Key stage 4. The sequence of topics has been chosen to provide variation for our students and so both year 10 and 11 include a combination of both human and physical topics. For more information about the GCSE Edexcel B specification click here.
Key stage 5. For further details about the Edexcel A-level geography course, please find the specification here.
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