Geography

HEAD OF DEPARTMENT: Ms E Tucker, BSc (Hons) (Leeds), PGCE, Institute of Education, London
Email: etucker@stedmundscollege.org

Geography is a popular subject in the school: compulsory in Years 7-9 and then a GCSE option in Years 10-11 and A Level for years 12 and 13.

Curriculum

Geography is a topical subject, a varied and challenging subject, and above all, a fun subject. In Years 7-9 we follow a course designed in-house that provides a balanced framework covering a wide range of topics, each taught within a half term,  for both physical and human Geography. Project work is a key aspect of the learning experience and during these first three years each student has the chance to be a weather girl/man on video; carry out an in-depth study of their home settlement and explore a wide range of geographical issues ranging from the Amazon rain forest and coastal defence management to the location of the Emirates Stadium and Thorpe Park.
Field Trips

Geography of course would not be the living, topical, vibrant subject it is without the fieldwork. In recent years we have run residential field trips to link in with the topics that are studied in the A level syllabus to Iceland, the Dolomites in Northern Italy and Chamonix in the French Alps. Closer to home for the younger years we run trips to the Natural Earth Galleries at the Natural History Museum, Kew Gardens for rain forest studies, Southwold,  Newmarket, and Cambridge and rural Hertfordshire for GCSE coursework and the plan is to incorporate more trips in the coming years to ensure each year group does have one visits per year.

Courses:

GCSE Geography :   AQA A syllabus         A level Geography   :  AQA syllabus

Extra for Rhetoric:

The AQA A Level syllabus covers a wide range of topics that encourage the students to explore different areas of the subject that are often not covered in either KS3 or KS4.   There are two papers at  AS and two papers at A2. On the AS Paper 1 there are two core sections- Rivers and Flood Management and Population Change. In order to best illustrate the relationships between landforms and processes in a fluvial environment, a field trip to a local river is organised in the first term. A secondary, but no less important function of this trip, is to collect data for the field work section of the Skills Paper 2.  The Flood Management topic enables the students to use one of the flume tanks to study how and why rivers flood and what defence options can be put in place to minimise the damage. The Population topic provides the students with an opportunity to use up to date figures and apply statistics to evaluate the dynamics of demographic change.

The two option topics – one physical and one human- represent a chance to explore less familiar areas of the subject. Arid and Semi-arid Landscapes give the students the opportunity to investigate the Sahel and the many issues associated with desertification. The Geography of Health and Disease opens up many new avenues of geography from the regional variations in health care in the UK compared to Cuba, to the distribution of diseases like malaria and coronary heart disease in different parts of the world.

Papers 3 and 4 make up the A2 component of the course and push the boundaries of Geography even further. The Challenges and Conflicts paper 3 is potentially the most interesting of all. Political Geography is not a widely studied theme, yet it is probably the most current and relevant in the modern day.  We hear and read about issues connected with poverty, multiculturalism, separatist movements and conflicts around the world at varying scales from local to global every week. This part of the syllabus is an excellent way of seeing workable Geography is as a subject.  All students find this paper the most interesting. The other two aspects of this paper are plate tectonics, where once again case study work comes to the fore. But within the case studies the students have a full grasp of why and how a disaster has occurred. World cities is the topic closest to home and a trip to the London Docklands or Paris will highlight the problems and solutions relevant to urban regeneration at this scale.  Paper 4 is an extension of the skills section from the AS. The questions are more sophisticated and probe the student knowledge of process much more explicitly. Another trip to a local river forms the basis of this paper and a detailed application of a range of statistical indices that evaluate and explain variations in sediments in a river.

The work ethic improves over the course of the two years, and by the second year is very strong. The students display genuine interest in the topics and a willingness to pursue the subject further, either as single honours or in a joint degree course, is very obvious.  Teaching is at a high level and is very detailed. The work is intense, with an extensive piece of work set every week on one of the topics. Standards are set high and excellent results in recent years are testament to the strong positive relationship in the classroom between teachers and students.  The fact that they have their own teaching room- with the best chairs – helps a lot and gives them a sense of ownership and desire to achieve at a high level.