Mrs A. Hughes
(Head of Department)
Mr P. Bayliss
Mrs J. Howell-Davis
Geography explains the past, illuminates the present and prepares us for the future. What could be more important than that? – Michael Palin
The purpose of the Geography curriculum at St Mary’s is to develop curiosity and fascination about the world’s human and physical processes and to foster growth of global citizens. We want to create knowledgeable and skilful geographers who understand, respect and appreciate God’s wonderful world.
At KS3 we study a balance of human and physical units in each year starting with a unit on map skills with a local focus using the school grounds and the local area to hone basic skills and build a sense of place. Each unit links to or revisits elements of earlier units, giving opportunities to recall what has been previously learnt, but gradually increasing in complexity, extending prior learning and developing geographical skills further so that pupils understand their world better.
At KS4 we encourage students to:
- Develop and extend their knowledge of locations, places, environments and processes, and of different scales including global; and of social, political and cultural contexts (know geographical material)
- Gain understanding of the interactions between people and environments, change in places and processes over space and time, and the inter-relationship between geographical phenomena at different scales and in different contexts (think like a geographer)
- Develop and extend their competence in a range of skills including those used in fieldwork, in using maps and GIS and in researching secondary evidence, including digital sources; and develop their approaches to questions and hypotheses (study like a geographer)
- Apply geographical knowledge, understanding, skills and approaches appropriately and creatively to real world contexts, including fieldwork, and to contemporary situations and issues; and develop well-evidenced arguments drawing on their geographical knowledge and understanding (applying geography).
The Geography department work together well as a team, sharing resources and expertise.
At KS3 each unit of study is presented to pupils via topic sheets (see example) which outline key expectations for pupils and parents. These sheets also present a good opportunity for pupils to develop organisational skills with their folders.
Learning is organised around these key questions and pupils sit standardised tests, helping to maintain a consistent geography provision.
Teachers have high expectations of all pupils and create a supportive learning environment by using a variety of strategies (scaffolding, paired work, modelling, individual and class feedback, teaching assistants) to support everyone to achieve success using a wide range of resources including textbooks, atlases, digital resources, playdough, card sorts etc.
Learning is taken out into the field regularly, with each year group conducting fieldwork off site – Yr 7: Dan-Yr-Ogof Caves, Yr 8: Dunraven Bay, Yr 9: Lapworth Museum, University of Birmingham.
At KS4 learning is organised around key ideas from the AQA specification. Pupils across the cohort sit standardised end of unit tests selected from the bank of past papers provided by AQA, helping to maintain a consistent geography provision.
Teachers have high expectations of all pupils and create a supportive learning environment by using a variety of strategies (scaffolding, modelling, individual and class feedback, teaching assistants) to support everyone to achieve success using a wide range of resources including textbooks, atlases, digital resources, journals, card sorts etc.
Learning is taken out into the field regularly. There are two one-day visits to complete the compulsory elements of fieldwork, previously to study social deprivation in Bristol and flood management in Upton-Upon-Severn. There is also a residential fieldwork opportunity to Morocco to develop curriculum links with Resource Management, Hot Deserts and life in a city in a LIC, but also to offer cultural and social experiences.
Geography teachers measure pupil’s attainment formatively, during lessons by talking to pupils individually, in groups and through whole class questioning, and by assessing engagement, knowledge and competence in class. Formative assessment also occurs through homework when pupils demonstrate the ability to apply their knowledge and understanding more independently. If necessary, subsequent lessons and/or resources are adapted to take account of prior learning or misconceptions.
Teachers measure the impact of the curriculum summatively at the end of each unit with tests, marked using agreed mark schemes. Progress is measured compared to pupil’s end of year target grades and at KS3, improvements made by pupils themselves in subsequent lessons, while at KS4 pupils working below target in each unit test are set interventions using Seneca Learning, BBC Bitesize or revision sheets. If necessary, amendments to specific units are made by teachers in preparation for the following year.