St Ursula’s School

Geography Curriculum Intent

“Geography explains the past, illuminates the present and prepares us for the future. What could be more important than that?” – Michael Palin

Geography is a dynamic and ever-changing subject that will allow pupils to explore the complex relationships between people and their environments. In Geography, we tackle some of the biggest issues facing our world in the 21st century, from climate change to tectonic hazards and the rapid growth of the world’s cities. Through studying Geography, we want our pupils to become curious, environmentally aware citizens, who are equipped with the skills and knowledge to go out and make a difference in the world. Because in our changing world, nothing changes more than Geography!

Our curriculum has been designed by subject experts to provide a comprehensive and rigorous intellectual journey. It acknowledges the importance of building students’ cultural capital and their curiosity about the world and the challenges it faces.  It builds an awareness of the world beyond the students’ frame of reference, creating the moments of awe and wonder that arise from understanding new viewpoints and cultural contexts. It enables our students to bring about positive change and engage with challenging debates about barriers to change.

The department aims to give full access to the Geography curriculum for all pupils up to GCSE level, regardless of their ability or background. The content provides students of differing ability, need and talent access to a rich and stimulating range of topics. It is designed to be appropriately ambitious for all students, from the highest attaining to those who require special consideration, whether that be SEND or a disadvantaged context.  We wish to allow pupils to experience ‘positive achievement’, to reinforce and make links with other areas of their curriculum.  Geography is a very successful subject at St Ursula’s. Geography is our passion and department staff are committed, creative and reflective.

As subject experts we recognise the contribution that Geography makes to developing students’ literacy.  We promote disciplinary literacy so that students can read and speak as a Geography expert would.  Schemes of learning set out tier 3 subject vocabulary which is developed through students’ reading of academic text.

Key Stage 3

KS3 schemes of work are designed to deliver a broad and interesting range of content and to develop a range of geographical skills. The curriculum has a focus on locational knowledge, places, processes and skills and it reinforces the importance of geography and its relevance on our lives. We build on pupil’s experiences in primary school in which pupils should have gained some knowledge and understanding beyond the local area to include the United Kingdom and Europe, North and South America. In primary school pupils should have developed some knowledge about the location and characteristics of a range of the world’s most significant human and physical features. They should also have developed their use of geographical knowledge, understanding and skills to enhance their locational and place knowledge as specified by the Key Stage 2 National Curriculum.

In Key stage 3, students extend their locational knowledge and are able to use globes, maps and atlases routinely in the classroom. Students develop their place knowledge through the study of human and physical geography in contrasting locations around the world. Students also understand key processes in human and physical geography. There is an emphasis on Ordnance Survey map skills, fieldwork and Geographical Information Systems. The Year 9 Geography curriculum provides the foundation for our GCSE course. During this year students learn about a range of natural hazards including tectonic and atmospheric hazards that have had significant impacts on the lives of people around the world. Students learn about the causes and consequences of earthquakes, tropical storms and flooding events. This encourages students to empathise with people who have been affected by these hazards with strong links to the Catholic ethos of the school. Students also learn about why similar hazards may have very different consequences depending on the wealth of a country. This builds on knowledge they have developed in the Development Unit in Year 8.

Links to curriculum maps:

Year 7

Year 8

Year 9

Field Trips and Enrichment

Fieldwork forms an important part of the Geography Curriculum at St. Ursula’s Convent School.  Fieldwork provides our pupils with the geographical value of experiencing landscape features, busy urban streets, unfamiliar cultures, extremes of weather and the journey to the venue itself which helps ground the pupils’ local environment in the context of the global. It also aids motivation and self development of our pupils. Students benefit socially by spending time working together and conducting fieldwork investigations also helps the development of their cognitive and affective learning. There is also a chance for students to demonstrate their progression of skills, and the development of participants as geographers. The outcomes also offer further opportunities for personalisation of the learning, and it is well recognised that a more sensory experience aids memory and meta-cognition.

Pupils carry out fieldwork at different scales over their time in KS3 including a Year 8 trip to the Natural History Museum in which students develop knowledge of tectonic processes and natural hazards and a Year 9 trip to the Olympic Park, Stratford in which students investigate the issues relating to the regeneration of this urban area. In KS4, students conduct two field work investigations as part of their preparations for their AQA Paper 3 examination. These include an investigation of the impact of regeneration of the London Docklands for the local community and measuring the River Darent in Kent to see if the physical characteristics of this river match the Bradshaw Model. 

Links to useful sites for KS3 students, parents and members of the public

BBC Bitesize
World Mapper
CIA World Factbook