Subject Overviews: Geography
The Geography Curriculum at OSCA seeks to develop a sense of place and helps students make sense of their surroundings and to gain a better appreciation and understanding of the variety of physical and human conditions on the Earth’s surface. The subject extends students’ interest and knowledge beyond their immediate experiences, using images and information to help them interpret about people and concepts that they acquire from media, internet and textbooks. Geography develops major skill areas: Map and fieldwork skills; cross-curricular skills such as ICT, Literacy and Numeracy; as well as an increasing awareness of the world around us and the idea of sustainability. We want students to become global citizens and show a keen awareness of the geography around them. Geography is everywhere and students at OSCA develop a keen awareness and appreciation of the geography around them.
We aim to create the very best geographers. We challenge students to think, act and speak like those working in the field would. We do this by quality first teaching which ensures students understand geographical principles and skills, which students are expected to apply to variety of familiar and unfamiliar contexts on a variety of scales. We teach content in its totality and constantly vary topics between human and physical geography to provide a varied and balanced appreciation of the ideas, skills and topics in this discipline. This variation between the human and physical topics allows students to see how the two disciplines within geography interact and influence each other.
Our curriculum at OSCA goes far beyond what is taught in lessons, for whilst we want students to achieve the very best examination results possible, we believe our curriculum goes beyond what is examinable. In key stage 4 pupils participate in fieldwork in Carding Mill Valley and Birmingham to apply the skills and knowledge beyond the classroom. We also give geographers at KS4 the chance undertake an extended residential in either the Azores, Iceland or Morocco. They deploy and develop the skills in lessons and develop and enhanced understanding of the world due to these visits.
Our curriculum in geography provides real stretch and challenge across a broad range of topics and scales. The curriculum provides opportunities for collaborative working as well as independent learning. Students are explicitly taught skill, knowledge and the vocabulary needed to effectively explain and understand geographical issues in the past, present and future. As a knowledge engaged curriculum we believe that knowledge underpins and enables the application of skills; both are entwined. As a department we define the powerful knowledge our students need and help them recall it by using knowledge organisers available on the network for all exam groups to access for their exam preparation. Use of regular assessment for learning, particularly using mini whiteboards, diagnostic quizzes to improve recall and retention and plenary tasks. Staff set their own time a side for a regular planned revision and intervention sessions to support student progress and to help the students organise and learn their curriculum content. In order to improve student’s individual study and revision the Geography Department has created a wealth of revision materials located on the student drive.
We build the Cultural Capital of our students by helping them to understand the contemporary world around them through regular evaluation of world events and relate this to their Geography Curriculum. Students learn about how political decisions can cause change the local environment and the world around them. They learn about the powerful economic forces around them that are bringing about changes to the way that will affect their future careers. Socially, the students learn about how countries are at different stages of development and how the lives of people living there are very different. 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. As a powerful bridging subject geography has strong cross curricular links to many of the cultural capital topics the students will study in school.
Further rationale behind our curriculum design includes flipping from human to physical topics regularly so that students get a chance to find something that they like within the curriculum delivery and to highlight the links between the two main areas of geography. The design of the five year curriculum is aimed at revisiting topics and skills on several occasions to promote learners confidence. Each time students revisit a topic, they are exposed to more complex content, building on what they have already learnt. We ensure the level of challenge is high enough for the most able, with scaffold and support available for students who need it.
The impact and measure of our curriculum at OSCA is to ensure that children are equipped with geographical skills and knowledge that will enable them to be ready for the curriculum at Key Stage 4 and for life as an adult in the wider world. We want the students to have thoroughly enjoyed learning about geography, therefore encouraging them to undertake new life experiences now and in the future. We recognise that literacy and communication cover a variety of skills, including taking and making notes, summarising information, presenting ideas, title writing, persuasive writing and arguments. It also covers the ‘spoken language’ component of the national curriculum. Numeracy is also promoted through data analysis and graph drawing through to the use of digital mapping. We encourage students to question data presented to them by identifying trends and anomalies and using this to present their arguments. Working as a Geographer requires a set of skills that are supported by literacy and numeracy and we aim to support the pupil’s journey through their time at OSCA empowering them to access resources and support to develop their skills and increase their resilience.
Collaborative curriculum planning lies at the heart of what we do in the department. We are committed to a three-year plan of developing our schemes of work. In 2020 we are working on improving the breadth and depth of our KS3 schemes of work. These are focussed on embedding geographical skills, challenge, metacognition, memory techniques and literacy into our departmental curriculum. Alongside our schemes of work, we are developing knowledge organisers at KS3. This is enabling us to define the core knowledge our students need to master.
In geography we implement our curriculum through a variety of teaching approaches as well as a wide variety of learning and teaching resources. Students are taught the research, presentation and problem solving skills to substantiate decisions that they are asked to make. We use a variety of strategies and ICT opportunities such as VR headsets to immerse students in areas of the globe that they may be unfamiliar with. Through quality teaching and innovative strategies we have created a thorough, engaging and well-rounded curriculum that is suited to get the very best from our students.
LTP, MTPs and Kos
Assessment and exams: including exemplar assessments
The Geography Department using many formative strategies such as questioning (challenging questions, rich questions); feedback, (including formative marking, with opportunities for students to respond and improve their work) effective self- and peer- assessment require teachers and students to understand progress are used throughout the curriculum. We have an emphasis on text marking which guides students through the mark schemes highlighting the assessment objectives. This practice quickly highlights areas of strength, but also identifies clearly areas requiring development.
At OSCA we use a variety of summative assessments across KS3 and KS4 including;
- geographical enquiries
- extended or shorter focused pieces of writing in a variety of different forms
- analysis and interpretation of a variety of maps at different scales as well as other geographical data
- text annotation or visual organisers such as thought mapping, storyboards, concept mapping or timelines
- oral work such as pupil presentations to the class, contributions to class discussions, drama activities or discussions with teachers
- drawing of sketch maps, diagrams, field sketches
Paper 1: Living with the physical environment
- Section A – The challenge of natural hazards – Tectonic Hazards, Weather Hazards and Climate Change.
- Section B – The Living World – Ecosystems, Tropical Rainforests and Hot Deserts.
- Section C – UK Physical Landscapes – Coasts and Rivers
Paper 2: Living with the human environment
- Section A – Urban Issues and Challenges – The Urban World (Rio de Janeiro), Urban change in the UK (Birmingham), Sustainable urban development (BedZed).
- Section B – The Changing Economic World – The Development Gap, India (NEE), The Changing UK Economy.
- Section C – The challenge of resource management – Energy, food and water management.
Paper 3: Geographical Applications and Skills
- Issue evaluation and fieldwork.
- Physical Geography fieldwork: River study in Carding Mill Valley.
- Human Geography fieldwork: Birmingham Regeneration study.
Exam 1 (35%)
- Living with the Physical Environment (1 Hour 30 Minutes)
Exam 2 (35%)
- Living with the Human Environment (1 Hour 30 Minutes)
Exam 3 (30%)
- Geographical Applications and Skills (Fieldwork) (1 hour 15 Minutes)
- This exam includes two compulsory fieldwork visits to rural and urban areas and Issue Evaluation document provided 12 weeks before the exam.
Extra-Curricular, Curriculum experiences:
To complement the delivery of the Geography Curriculum at OSCA, students are invited to take part in school trips in order to further develop their understanding of a particular element of geography. At KS4 students will complete two compulsory fieldwork trips; one a river study in Carding Mills Valley and the second an investigation into the impact of regeneration in Birmingham City Centre.
For years 9, 10 and 11 we offer three educational visits to the Azores ,Iceland and Morocco. These visits allow students to study both physical and human elements of geography as well as be involved in many cultural aspects. The aim of these educational trips is to broaden the scope of curriculum delivery beyond the classroom, allowing students exposure to new challenges and worthwhile experiences.
Students have the opportunity to visit the island of Sao Miguel in the Azores, where they experience:
- The Furnas Valley – the valley is in an old volcanic crater and contains hot springs, volcanic mud pools and volcanic steam vents.
- Terra Nostra Gardens – Outdoor Thermally Heated Pool
- Lago de Fogo – Crater Lake formed in a volcanic crater
- Caldeira Velha – Hot spring waterfall that is orange in colour due to the Iron in the earth
- Geothermal & Hydroelectric power plants. – The Azores are one of the most sustainable destinations on the planet due to its use of renewable energy
- Sete Cidades – Giant Collapsed Volcanic Caldera with 2 large crater lakes
- Ferraria – Possibility of swimming in the oceanic pool that varies in temperature due to geothermal energy.
- Gruta de Carvao – Lava Tube Cave created by the flow of lava - no longer active
During the Iceland visit, the students have the opportunity to visit –
- The Blue Lagoon – outdoor thermal pools
- Spectacular waterfalls such as Gullfoss, Skogafoss and Seljalandsfoss.
- The Geothermal Geysers
- Thingvellir National Park – Where the North American and Eurasian plates meet at the Mid Atlantic Ridge
- The Lava Centre – Interactive Volcano Museum
- Reynisfjara Beach
- Coastal village of Vik
- Reykjanes Peninsula – Geothermal pools, coastal features and Bridge over 2 continents
- The Northern Lights
The Morocco visit will also students the opportunity to:
- Engage with Berber villages about the Challenges and Benefits of living in/near a Desert
- Take a camel trek into the Sahara Desert
- Camp overnight in a Berber Desert Camp
- Visit sites such as the Todra Gorge and Ouarzazate
- Visit the city of Marrakech experience how the city works and how less developed economies work
- Travel through the Atlas mountains
- Visit Ait Benhaddou to see the impact the film industry has had on the area.
Useful subject specific links/Further reading/learning:
Sample Papers https://www.aqa.org.uk/subjects/geography/gcse/geography-8035
Geographical Association https://www.geography.org.uk/