“The study of geography is about more than just memorizing places on a map. It’s about understanding the complexity of our world, appreciating the diversity of cultures that exists across continents. And in the end, it’s about using all that knowledge to help bridge divides and bring people together.”
– Barack Obama, 44th President of the United States
Geography is the subject that allows students to understand their lived experiences as they interact with their surroundings, both natural and human. It is the subject that allows them to decode and make sense of their environs. It is a well-established maxim that people fear what they do not understand. So not being able to understand your local, regional and even national surroundings is a particularly upsetting prospect. Geography gives students the base constructs, and more importantly, the investigative tools to explore and make sense of their environment and thus, their lives in a general sense. No one likes to think they haven’t received their fair share so helping students comprehend why some people/areas/countries don’t have equal access to water, food, shelter, wealth etc… allows them to accept these realities and then find solutions to them. At Rudheath we will seek to create global citizens. Students who will understand their place in Rudheath, the UK and the world. They will understand how they came to be there in both a physical and human sense and how they can improve the situation of our environment and fellow people.
The intent of geography at Rudheath Senior Academy is to provide students with essential and transferable skills to deal with, and understand, the rapidly changing world in which they will be living. The world is increasingly interconnected, with large scale economic movements and migration across the globe, and within the country. Geography gives students the opportunity to be able to understand the reasons for these changes, and their consequences. We want to create discerning and inquisitive geographers who can use their geography skills to interpret the world around them.
We want our students to see a world beyond Rudheath, so that they can access it, if they choose to. We want to be developing students love of learning and research, as well as helping students to create their own enquiries, making justifiable decisions, cost-benefit analyses and being able to see issues from a range of viewpoints, not just their own. We seek to create global citizens who are aware of, and passionate about, the diverse physical world in which we live. We aim to provide students with the skills and understanding to deal with, what David Attenborough has suggested will be, “the collapse of civilisation and the natural world” on which we depend, if the climate change and biodiversity issues are not dealt with (speech by David Attenborough to the United Nations Climate Change Summit 2019). Geography is unique as a subject in that it encourages students to consider both arts and science elements. It encourages a multi-disciplinary, synoptic approach to any consideration and decision. It encourages students to develop a wider vocabulary.
Students who leave Rudheath Senior Academy with a GCSE in geography will be able to combine both qualitative and quantitative data, analyse information and make appropriate decisions as well as reflecting on case study examples to evaluate the successful management of geographical issues. A geography student will not be afraid of facing new information in whatever format (social media, text, graphics, graphs, diagrams, images, spoken word, interviews and videos). This makes geographers flexible, dynamic and independent employees, ready for the changing world they will face. In addition, our geographers will be familiar with Geographical Information Systems, enabling students to become multiple data analysis within a spatial dimension.
The national curriculum for geography aims to ensure that all pupils:
- develop contextual knowledge of the location of globally significant places – both terrestrial and marine – including their defining physical and human characteristics and how these provide a geographical context for understanding the actions of processes
- understand the processes that give rise to key physical and human geographical features of the world, how these are interdependent and how they bring about spatial variation and change over timeare competent in the geographical skills needed to:
- Collect, analyse and communicate with a range of data gathered through experiences of fieldwork that deepen their understanding of geographical processes
- interpret a range of sources of geographical information, including maps, diagrams, globes, aerial photographs and Geographical Information Systems (GIS)
- communicate geographical information in a variety of ways, including through maps, numerical and quantitative skills and writing at length.
Our curriculum will both reflect and learn from our school and community and also help to enhance our pupil’s cultural capital through the extensive range of topics and themes it will cover. We will also tackle difficult issues which will give the pupils the opportunity to discuss and debate social, moral, cultural and spiritual questions
From Year 7 pupils should consolidate and extend their knowledge of the world’s major countries and their physical and human features. They should understand how geographical processes interact to create distinctive human and physical landscapes that change over time. In doing so, they should become aware of increasingly complex geographical systems in the world around them. They should develop greater competence in using geographical knowledge, approaches and concepts [such as models and theories] and geographical skills in analysing and interpreting different data sources. In this way pupils will continue to enrich their locational knowledge and spatial and environmental understanding.
- Extend their locational knowledge and deepen their spatial awareness of the world’s countries, using maps of the world to focus on Africa, Russia, Asia (including China and India), and the Middle East, focusing on their environmental regions, including polar and hot deserts, key physical and human characteristics, countries and major cities.
- Understand geographical similarities, differences and links between places through the study of the human and physical geography of a region in Africa and a region in Asia.
Human and physical geography
- Understand, through the use of detailed place-based exemplars at a variety of scales, the key processes in:
- Physical geography relating to: geological timescales and plate tectonics; rocks, weathering and soils; weather and climate, including the change in climate from the Ice Age to the present; and glaciation, hydrology and coasts
- Human geography relating to: population and urbanisation; international development; economic activity in the primary, secondary, tertiary and quaternary sectors; and the use of natural resources
- Understand how human and physical processes interact to influence and change landscapes, environments and the climate; and how human activity relies on the effective functioning of natural systems.
Geographical skills and fieldwork
- Build on their knowledge of globes, maps and atlases, and apply and develop this knowledge routinely in the classroom and in the field
- Interpret Ordnance Survey maps in the classroom and the field, including using grid references and scale, topographical and other thematic mapping, and aerial and satellite photographs
- Use Geographical Information Systems (GIS) to view, analyse and interpret places and data
- Use fieldwork in contrasting locations to collect, analyse and draw conclusions from geographical data, using multiple sources of increasingly complex information.
In order to achieve the aims of the Geography Curriculum intent, the following strands are implemented:
KS3 – Geography is taught over 3 hours per cycle taught in mixed ability groups (starting September 2019)
KS4 – Geography is taught over 5 hours per cycle taught in mixed ability groups
Topics rotate termly.
Sequencing of knowledge
To build scholarship and ambition, a 5 year spiral curriculum is in place which builds on key the facts, concepts and skills learners need to develop between years 7 to year 11. The geographical concepts and skills are built upon in Year 7 through to GCSE. Schemes of Learning incorporate opportunity for the development of numeracy, literacy and to make links to wider world.
Meeting learners needs
- Schemes of learning are made up of lessons with 3 differentiated levels of outcomes (know, apply, extend)
- Teachers teach to the top and scaffold activities to support students in achieving mastery of each concept
- Lessons are fully differentiated to meet each learners needs and are well supported by learning environments that offer both support and challenge
Enrichment and fieldwork opportunities are embedded into the curriculum, offering learners a broader experience of Geography. Links to local, national and global geographical issues through Geography in the News and topical case studies help learners prepare, with ambition, for future progression and careers.
Most units start with a ‘big question’ to investigate which will often lead into a decision making exercise taking place. As the sequence of lessons continue the knowledge learnt builds up to be able to answer the big question or make a decision. Synoptic thinking is always encouraged to make links with other topics and the wider world.
Lessons strategies used to build resilience and scholarship:
- Questioning, which is constant
- Extended writing is developed to improve deeper thinking
- Development of exam technique and exam command words are developed throughout
- Constant links are made between different topics and current geographical topics in the news or what is affecting students’ lives
- Development of geographical and numeracy skills
How is greater depth achieved?
To further develop capital culture, Geography offers students a range of experiences outside of the classroom environment. These opportunities are designed to develop student’s experiences and enhance their cultural understanding of the world around them. These include field trips to Liverpool and Loggerheads Country Park. A department trip to London that includes workshops at Kew Gardens, The Thames flood barrier and the London 2012 regeneration project. Department runs additional weekly revision support for all Year 11 learners. As well as annual Geography photography competition, pumpkin carving and Easter egg painting contest that learners across the whole school have the opportunity to enter and earn points for a chance to win the Humanities Faculty Trophy.
How are you teaching literacy through your subject?
Learners have the opportunity to engage in challenging texts throughout the curriculum.
The use of Knowledge organisers for every unit allows students to fully understand and embed Tier 3 and 4 vocabulary.
Guided reading tasks linked to the latest geographical scholarship. The department also uses the book Prisoners of Geography to support the whole school literacy strategy and allows guided reading opportunities throughout the curriculum.
How do you ensure the needs are ALL learners are met?
Geography schemes of work are accessible for all learners with stretch and challenge opportunities in every lesson. The successful implementation of department tracker allows the teacher to be aware of disadvantaged, vulnerable and SEND students and ensure they are fully supported during lessons by the faculty Teaching Assistant and Teacher strategies that achieve successful learning outcomes for these students often include; breaking down tasks into small chunks, repetition, overlays and visual reminders.
Within the department we ensure that all learners are stretched regardless of their background or demographic. With a clear focus on demonstrating high expectations and consistency which allows students to learn in a safe learning environment where learners thrive and are not afraid to try their best. Lessons are consistently taught from the top and teacher modelling is used frequently.
Positive reinforcement is used at every opportunity by praising in public and reprimanding in private. Our learning environments are that of celebrating success and promoting our ethos of excellence and kindness.
Assessment and feedback
The Impact of the Geography Curriculum is measured through data produced at three key assessment points throughout the academic year. The quality of work produced in Geography aims to be of a consistently high standard whilst aspiring to be in the top quintile for all schools. With all learners displaying a good knowledge of the topics they are studying whilst developing the ability to link key Geographical concepts together from previous studied topics. In conjunction with this learners will also assimilate a broad range of Geographical skills that they can transfer to their next stage in education.
Whole class feedback is given on a regular basis the rationale for this approach is:
- Less marking, more feedback’ – Efficiency with maximum impact
- Tuning fork for class – misconceptions, issues, praise, targets etc
- Aids planning, class and verbal feedback
Feedback sessions allow the following to take place:
- Improved focus on feedback using a variety of activities
- Filling subject knowledge gaps through direct instruction & student collaboration
- Developing and practicing skills
- Modelling and redrafting exam questions
- Literacy & presentation
- Extension activities and completing work
The impact of this approach has been:
- Considerably reduced marking time (workload win!!) which allows us to monitor books more regularly
- Teachers have greater awareness of class progress and issues
- Teachers are giving better feedback (and thinking about it more!) and not just writing individual comments
- Helped planning, especially at GCSE to tackle new skills/content and target gaps/misconceptions
Pupils in KS3 receive a takeaway homework project every half term, the project is linked to the topic being studied. These projects provide further research opportunities for pupils to expand their knowledge and increase their interest in the studied topic. Copies of the homework project will be given directly to the pupils on paper as well as on teams. Projects can be submitted both physically and online through teams.
At KS4 pupils receive topic booklets that relate to each individual component of the GCSE course being studied. These booklets support pupil learning and allow for further practice of essential exam technique. Booklets are available to pupils in both physical and online formats. These are submitted both physically and online through teams.
How do you ensure staff development in your curriculum area?
- AQA exam webinars and conferences
- Secondary Partnership Mentor Training
- Middle Leader Training Programs
In school training is offered through:
- Morning briefings
- Whole school CPD
- Coaching Programme offering peer coaching around teaching and learning
Occasionally an Associate teacher is invited from a university to train in the department which have been an invaluable resource to share subject developments and fresh ideas.
We are confident that through the content of the curriculum and the way in which it is delivered that Geography will have a profoundly positive impact on pupil’s appreciation of the world’s complexities and their own important place within it.
We use summative assessment to check for overall fluency and knowledge retention of students this takes place three times a year. The formative assessment is embedded in lesson plans, in form of peer & self-assessment, quizzes, visuals to demonstrate learning (e.g., diagrams, charts), questioning and verbal feedback, to highlight strengths and areas for improvement. Gaps in knowledge are quickly identified and corrections and improvements are promoted (reflection time in lessons). Metacognitive strategies are used to help student to understand the way they learn. Students are encouraged to ‘think aloud’ especially when struggling with reading comprehension or problems solving, they are given but also asked to create their own check lists and knowledge organisers, to support pupils in the decision-making process, and self-evaluation. The importance of low stake testing is valued by the department, as we believe that the students should be given the opportunity to try, make mistakes and to learn from them. Multiple choice quizzes, quick quiz with answers in books, key words tests, labelling a diagram from memory or recalling key facts/dates/people from memory are often used as starters or plenaries in Geography lessons.