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Geography allows us to think in an alternative way. Rather than a subject based purely on factual recall, it encourages us to think geographically. It forces us to ask questions about some of the most controversial and pressing concepts affecting the world today, such as climate change, resource use and population growth, and examine them through an enquiry approach.
In addition, Geography plays a holistic role in the curriculum where it intertwines with other disciplines and helps make sense of Science, Maths, English and questions our society.
Geography is the study of relationships between physical and human phenomena that give rise to spatial patterns on the surface of the earth. Whilst other disciplines may study landscape, flora and fauna, the atmosphere, people and culture, the built environment and political territories, geography is the only discipline that concerns itself with the relationships between these resulting in spatial differentiation.
What is the intention of the curriculum?
Knowledge in Geography is not constructed in the same way as knowledge in Maths, History, English, Science and Modern Foreign Languages. As such, we consider approaches to teaching that are specific to our discipline, rather than applying a ‘one size fits all’ approach to gaining mastery. Geographical enquiry plays a central role in the teaching of Geography as it encourages thinking geographically.
Enquiry deepens conceptual understanding through reasoning, data interpretation, argumentation and fieldwork. Enquiry incorporates a range of approaches to teaching and learning including both those strongly led by teachers and those with greater independence for students. An enquiry approach helps students to engage with, and make sense of, geographical data, and encourages a questioning approach supported by evidence from the real world.
We believe that knowledge can be questioned and challenged. Some knowledge is fallible and open to debate because it is susceptible to the limitations of theories and ideas created by people. As such a ‘tick-list’ of key facts does not constitute academic excellence; facts on their own are not knowledge.
How will this be implemented?
We encourage students to think geographically through the process of enquiry. All KS3 lesson titles are based upon an enquiry question, accompanied with plenary enquiry lessons at the end of each module to allow students to deepen their conceptual understanding through reasoning, data interpretation and argumentation. This mirrors the exam board we have chosen (OCR B) at Key Stage 4 which is one of the few exam boards written through a similar enquiry process.
Furthermore, the Key Stage 3 curriculum hinges upon key concepts of the discipline focussing on Climate, Sustainability, Human/Physical interactions, Earth Processes, and Development. These key topics are interleaved throughout the Key Stage 3 curriculum, allowing us to visit and revisit these key concepts and assess them through enquiry within different experiences of Geography.
Alongside our carefully-designed curriculum we will work to meet the needs of all students with high quality teaching. Whether students need to be stretched and encouraged to exceed, if they are finding work difficult, or if they are somewhere in the middle, we will provide the appropriate support and skill to allow them to reach their geographic potential. Please see below:
How will we judge the impact of this curriculum?
Assessments exist in service of the curriculum, not the other way round; the foundations of academic excellence should not be built on the shifting sands of ‘good exam results’ but rather through the discipline of geography. There are three formal assessment points per year for students in Years 7 to 10 and two sets of mock exams annually for Year 11.
In Key Stage 3, assessments are designed so that students build up their knowledge cumulatively throughout each year, with 25% of the marks awarded for coverage of previous topics.
In Key Stage 4, the assessments are again cumulative so that students build up their body of knowledge by revising previous topics as well as the current ones. Assessments are marked according to the OCR ‘B’ Assessment Objectives and are based on GCSE-style questions.
Being part of the Harris Federation allows us to use the centralised assessments; the assessment scores across all academies are collected and analysed centrally allowing the results to be compared against the performance of a large cohort of students across a range of academies.
Curriculum map and progression
Please see the below downloadable document for the rationale to the topics we cover across Key Stages 3 and 4, and why we have decided to teach them in the order we have.