A high-quality geography education should inspire in pupils a curiosity and fascination about the world and its people that will remain with them for the rest of their lives’
The aim of the study of geography at Wymondham High is to provide students with a broad view of the key human and physical characteristics and processes operating on planet Earth and the key interactions between humans and the physical environment. Students are introduced to these concepts at KS3 and go on to further deepen and broaden knowledge and understanding of these concepts through KS4 and KS5. Students will be equipped with key geographical skills, built up from KS3 through KS4 and then KS5.
Students should have a broad view of the key human and physical characteristics and processes operating on planet Earth and the key interactions between humans and the physical environment.
Key features of the physical environment around them:
- River and coastal landscapes; weather and climate; ecosystems, earthquakes and volcanos, oceans.
- How and why these environments can change over time in the short run and the long run.
- How changes can be managed by humans.
- Issues of sustainability surrounding all these issues.
Key concepts about human geography.
- Population and resources
- Economic development and inequalities
Key geographical skills:
- Map work: OS map skills; choropleth maps etc; latitude and longitude.
- Fieldwork skills: the process of an enquiry, carrying out fieldwork, writing up an enquiry.
- Data analysis (maps; graphs; pie charts) and drawing conclusions.
- Critical thinking, effective justification of points of view, demonstrating empathy.
- Evaluating (management strategies; data collection methods, etc)
- Problem solving skills.
Country studies – to illustrate the above and to build awareness of the varying reality of the human experience of life on planet earth: Kenya, Brazil, UK.
Maps: the continents, the UK, Europe, World (identifying key places and physical features).
- Should be fully aware of the fragile nature of the planetary atmospheric systems and ecosystems, so that they are prepared for future life on this planet and understand how best they can contribute to the continuing survival and thriving of humans on planet Earth.
- Should develop a love of and respect and curiosity for the environment around them, while understanding their impact of their decisions on the environment at all scales.
- Should celebrate the human diversity, cultural differences and settlement variety of our planet.
Learning is carefully sequenced to enable students to build a growing picture of the world around them. We aim to engage, build skills and build awareness of the diversity of our planet, physically and in terms of human geography. While we initially focus on a contrasting country study and a study of their island home, we then spend much of Y7 building an understanding of the natural landscape around them. The physical environment sets the context for much of the human experience to it makes sense to focus on this initially.
We begin Year 7 with a topic that contrasts dramatically with their own experience of life on Earth: Africa (LICs/ NEEs) – to immediately build awareness of the diversity of human experience on planet Earth, both from a human and from a physical geography standpoint. This topic also begins their skills development (maps, graphs, analysis, justification, research, drawing conclusions, for example).
We then go on to learning about students’ island home (a HIC) – an essential topic about which they know surprisingly little at this stage in their education. Then we cover the basic geographical OS map work skills. We then focus more deeply on the physical geography of the landscapes around them: river and coastal landscapes. Between the rivers topic and the coasts topic students are given an opportunity to develop research skills in the context of a pressing environmental concern for their times. In the summer term student's carryout coastal fieldwork on the North Norfolk coast.
During the Y7 course we take the opportunity to being to develop familiarity and understanding of concept of sustainability. For example, the module ‘Our World Today’, has an initial focus on the highly topical waste management issue; followed up with an opportunity for them to choose a current geographical issue to research and write up as a research enquiry, for example conflict in the Middle East, the Corona virus, endangered species and Chinese medicine. They will present their findings to the class.
Year 8 begins with a country study, Brazil (a NEE), which brings further insight into the range of human and physical geography across the planet, but also offers the opportunity to explore the new topic of ecosystems and biodiversity.
It’s back to physical geography next to study plate tectonics. Again, a very important subject for them to be familiar with. Tectonic forces can have dramatic and devastating consequences and while these forces are less apparent in the UK, students should understand the processes and the implications for billions of other people on the planet who are subject to these forces. This understanding may even save lives.
Students need to understand global systems as well as the local systems covered in the course so far. We begin this learning with vitally important study of weather and climate and climate change. This is followed up with learning about the global ocean and how it helps impacts on human survival on our planet. These topics cannot be underestimated in their importance – how we treat the oceans and the atmosphere directly impact on human experience of life on Earth. Students have reached an age by Y8 where they can cope with the demands of these topics and for which it is hoped that the learning will stay with them for life.
The next topic enables students to understand the context for human impacts on the planets systems – population and resources (people and planet).
We finish the Y8 course with a look at economic activity with focus on tourism – our students are all likely to be tourists throughout their lives and the impacts of tourism need to be fully understood if they are to be responsible tourists that protect people and the environment and not tourists that inadvertently cause harm. We return to Kenya to look at a LIC experience of tourism.
Throughout all the geographical learning, geographical skills are being practiced and developed. For example, students read and analyse maps/ graphs/ diagrams/ data, etc. They use evidence to justify points of view, they show understanding of the points of view of others, and they draw their own conclusions, e.g. in the assessment (extending writing) ‘Should we allow the Amazon rainforest to be chopped down?’). Fieldwork enquiry skills begin in Year 8, within the weather and climate module, with an enquiry on microclimates around the school.
This learning and skills-building feeds directly into the focused curriculum, when the knowledge and understanding will be broadened and deepened, and skills will be further practiced and enhanced.