head of department: Mrs stanborough

As part of our ongoing aims to develop a strong Geography department that has the main focus of inspiring all students to gain a better understanding, and have more knowledge of the dynamic, complex and relevant physical and human world both near and far. In addition, included in the department’s aims, is for students to realise through their secondary education journey, from year 7 to year 13 that everything in the physical and human world has a connection to Geography. We have worked hard at having in place a forward thinking curriculum that is reviewed and updated regularly. We have set out the department’s current curriculum intentions, implementations and desired impacts, which are explained in the text to follow.

Curriculum Intentions

We have put in place a curriculum that enables students to answer open questions throughout their KS3, KS4 and KS5 studies, such as ‘how’ and ‘why’. The curriculum also helps students to apply critical thinking, and to be able to answer open questions too. The intention is for the Geography curriculum at St Bernard’s to be appropriate and useful for all students to have a greater understanding of the dynamic and human world, and not just to gain knowledge and skills on how to pass assessments and GCSE and A level examinations. We have put in place topics that are important in the foundations of creating successful young geographers, and will help students to acquire a greater understanding of the physical and human world, as well as gaining useful and appropriate geographical skills. Sequencing of the curriculum is very important, and topic examples include (but not limited to): map skills being taught at year 7, and being revisited while studying different topics throughout the students’ learning journey from Year 7 to Year 13. And In addition, student understanding and knowledge gained at KS3, will help them to apply critical thinking in more depth at KS4 and KS5 (GCSE and A level studies).The ‘Restless Earth’ topic being studied at year 8, and in more depth at GCSE and A level studies during year 10,11,12 and 13. The sequencing of the curriculum content helps to deepen students’ knowledge, understanding and skills over time. In addition, students will be aware of what they know and are able to do with their skills at topic and curriculum end points, such as at the end of an academic year and key stage.

Curriculum implementation

The department’s Geography curriculum includes every topic for all year groups, and they all include a sequence of subtopics that helps to steer teaching and assessments (that are regularly reviewed and updated) that are put in place. In addition, students are aware of the sequencing of topics and subtopics, and are all encouraged to take responsibility for their learning. At the start of each topic, students are given Personal Learning Checklists (PLCs) that are colour coded (linked to a traffic light system), which enables them to monitor their knowledge and understanding of each topic and subtopic. We have implemented a variety of teaching approaches to enable all students to gain knowledge and an understanding of their topic studies, and these approaches include: text book reading and activities, structured power point reading and activities, film clips, discussions and questioning, as well as peer to peer questioning. We have also (despite the difficulties of the coronavirus pandemic) developed GCSE and A level fieldwork, which helps to inspire students’ knowledge, understanding and skills, as well as to encourage student curiosity and critical thinking. Field work investigations linked to both physical and human Geography at KS3 is an ongoing department development improvement strategy that we are currently working on. In addition to the implementation points discussed, as a department we also include engaging activities during whole school cultural events. The 2021 whole school cultural event included a Geography competition for all students to apply critical thinking in finding solutions to prevent future climate change refugees, which will help people to stay within their settlements and help preserve their identities, and cultures.

Curriculum impact

The focus for the desired impacts of the school’s Geography curriculum is for students to acquire progressive knowledge, understanding and skills as they move from KS3 to KS4 and KS5, and for them to think more critically about complex situations, as well as to be able to make synoptic links between topics being studied as they arise. We believe strongly that we are not teaching students with only a narrow objective of ensuring student’ success at each assessment and GCSE and A level end points, although assessment and examination success is very important. Having a holistic approach to teaching and learning will also result with the positive impact of student’s thinking geographically about the physical and human world, not only presently, but also as they move into adulthood too.

From a teaching perspective we have implemented initiatives to help specialist Geography teachers to improve and develop their pedagogical knowledge with appropriate training events. Although it should be pointed out that during the last 18 months, the quality of suitable continuous personal development (CPD) training options for teaching staff within the department has been limited.

Term 1 Map skills

Term 2 Map Skills

Term 3 Population, including migration

Term 4 Rivers

Term 5 Settlements

Term 6 Africa

Term 1 Restless Earth

Term 2 Restless Earth

Term 3 Coasts

Term 4 Environment

Term 5 Globalisation

Term 6 Italy (and the European Union)

Term 1  Development

Term 2 Development including China case study

Term 3 Antarctica

Term 4 Start of GCSE studies scheme of work: People and the biosphere

Term 5 Forests under Threat (comparing the threats to a hot forest biome and a cold forest biome)

Term 6 Consuming Energy Resources

Term 1-2 Hazardous Earth

Term 3 Tectonics

Term 4-5 Development Dynamics

Term 6 Challenges of an urbanising world

Term 1 Continue Challenges of an urbanising world

Term 2-3 The UK’s evolving physical landscape

Term 3-4 The UK’s evolving Human landscape

Term 4-5 Glaciation* and Intensive exam revision study sessions

Term 6 GCSE examinations  May and June

*Glaciation is not part of the Edexcel B examination specification. However, it is stated in a sentence within the specification, which means that as department, we ensure that student gain understanding and knowledge on Glaciation.

Term 1-2  Hazards

Term 2-3 Contemporary Urban Environments

Term 3-4-5  Coastal Systems and Landscapes

Term 6 Changing Places, and Start Non Examination Assessment (NEA) including Fieldwork

Term 1 Continue with Changing Places, continue NEA progress, and mock examination (October)

Term 2-3 Global Systems and Global Governance and NEA progress

Term 3-4 Water and Carbon Cycles and students to hand in completed NEA (February)

Term 4-5 Intensive examination(s) revision study sessions