"Geography is the subject which holds the key to our future." - Michael Palin (RGS president 2009-2012)
Geography is an exciting, relevant and contemporary subject which enables our students to engage with and understand the world around them. Many of the greatest challenges facing our planet, and more importantly their solutions, form the foundations of the geographic discipline. Complex issues such as climate change, the refugee crisis, rapid urbanisation, deforestation, resource management or the sustainable development goals can be understood through the subject of geography.
At Mayfield Grammar School our geographers learn to explore the world at a range of scales developing an understanding of a range of physical environments and the impact and relationship people have with these places.
As a department we value fieldwork and feel it is important to ensure that all our students have a range of opportunities to participate in fieldwork investigations.
In the Lower School, we study a broad range of topics to allow students to develop their understanding as to what Geography as a subject actually encompasses. The focus in the Lower School is to improve and refine the students’ core geographical skills to enable them to achieve the very best results at GCSE and beyond. Throughout the Lower School curriculum we are looking to encourage students to become active and independent learners. This is reflected in our delivery of the content.
In Year 7 students focus on improving their overall understanding of geography as a subject with a strong focus on developing map skills. Students will then discover about natural resources and importance of fossil fuels. Students then cover an introduction to economic geography and globalisation which showcases some of the most dynamic parts of human geography. Other topics covered in Year 7 include understanding about river systems and management, and finally weather and climate change.
A range of skills are introduced and developed throughout including the ability to interpret and understand Ordnance Survey maps and the attributes required to collect and analyse written, photographic, graphical and statistical information.
In Year 8 students build on the foundations of Year 7 but with a distinctly more global outlook. Students start the year with an overview of key global geographic issues including global development, coastal processes, migration and glaciation. As students will start the GCSE Geography course in Year 9, Year 8 is structured to provide all pupils with the important locational and issue based knowledge and skills from which they can then target the highest grades in the future.
Having studied some of the key global issues students will then look in more depth at issues and processes affecting key countries and regions of the world including Africa, China, India, Russia and the Middle East. Fieldwork is an important aspect to any thorough study of Geography and in Year 8 students will be given the opportunity to conduct fieldwork in the local environment looking at the issue of sustainability in urban areas.
During the year, regular but varied assessment are carried out with a focus on learning content and skills.
Our planet is forever changing and so the GCSE course makes use of the very latest global news, from dramatic tectonic events and catastrophic flooding, to the effect of government policies on population, urban planning and resource management. Whilst traditional areas of both physical and human geography are covered, there is a particular focus on understanding the relationships and interdependence between the physical and human worlds and the major issues both face into the twenty-first century.
GCSE Geography is taught from Year 9, with students making option choices during this year so students are well placed to make an informed decision. The course utilises the many geographical and general study skills that have been developed in the lower school as well as introducing more advanced concepts. The GCSE course is split into 3 distinct components:
• 1. ‘Global Geographic Issues’ covering global hazards, tectonic processes, climate change, development issues and the challenges of rapid urbanisation.
• 2. ‘UK Geographical Issues’ covering an overview of the UK’s varied physical landscapes, with in depth studies of coastal change and river processes, as well as how the UK’s human landscape has been shaped by socio-economic and political processes. This includes two distinct fieldwork and research investigations looking at both physical and human environments.
• 3. ‘People and Environment Issues – Making Geographical Decisions’ covering global ecosystems, energy supply and demand, energy security and the sustainable use and management of different resources.
In addition to acquiring specific geographic knowledge, GCSE Geography develops many skills for students and provides an effective springboard to A-Level study. Within the course, students will develop:
• Their ability to produce coherent and effective arguments, using evidence to support their ideas.
• Good analytical skills including the use of statistics
• Fieldwork, research and team-building abilities
• A comprehensive understanding of the world around them
Highly regarded as one of the key facilitating subjects, GCSE Geography is an exciting, engaging and hugely useful subject to study at GCSE.
Geography is a popular choice at A level, providing students with a breadth of knowledge and skills that help to make it one of the key facilitating subjects universities and employers value. Very much building on what has been studied at GCSE the A level course combines local, national and global issues that reflect the changing world around us.
Geography A-level is a linear course and allows a balance between students' own physical, human and or environmental interests and key geographical topics that equip them with knowledge, understanding and skills for further study at higher education or for employment. Topics covered in Year 12 include tectonic processes and hazards, globalisation, coastal landscapes and change, regeneration and the taught aspect of the fieldwork component of the course which ultimately links to students' Year 13 independent investigation.
In Year 13 students study the water cycle and water security, the carbon cycle and energy security, the geography of superpowers and an optional topic of either health and human rights or migration and identity. Alongside this students complete an independent investigation related to fieldwork and wider research they have undertaken.
Geography A level is a varied, engaging and highly useful subject. Many students choose to continue their geographic study onto degree level and beyond, but it equally complements many other subjects and potentially career moves given the range and quality of transferrable skills it teaches.