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 4

In KS4, pupils study AQA Geography specification A. This exciting course is based on a balanced framework building on knowledge gained in KS3 of the physical and human world and how these two fundamental strands of geography are interlinked. At GCSE students investigate the link between these two themes, and approach and examine the battles between the man-made and natural worlds. For example in the Rivers and Coasts units, students deepen their knowledge from KS3 of the physical processes that help shape and create these natural environments before understanding the impact that people can have through the use of management strategies designed to control these natural processes.  Students who complete the course will have the skills and experience to progress onto A-level and beyond. The GCSE Geography course encompasses lots of areas already studied in Key Stage 3 which gives students a solid base from which to start.

Links to curriculum maps:

Year 10

Year 11

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 KS4 students, parents and members of the public

BBC Bitesize
Cool Geography
Royal Geography Society
National Geographic
CIA World Factbook
School Revision Site
Geography in the News
AQA Exam Board
Past Exam Papers for AQA