Geography

Departmental approach to the curriculum

Climate change. Geopolitics. Natural disasters. Energy revolution. Pollution. Globalisation. Migration. There has never been a more vital time to be an attentive, well-informed, curious geographer. 

Geography at Rickmansworth aims to equip students with a breadth of understanding and detailed knowledge of the complexities in the near and far worlds which we occupy. We firmly believe that all students entering Rickmansworth School are able young geographers and we help them develop key geographical skills that are ultimately highly valued by the UK’s top universities and employers alike. 

To that end we place challenge at the top of our “to do list” when planning our curriculum. We teach hard lessons and are not ashamed to admit it! Students enjoy tackling complex physical and human geography from the off, and above all, as our results show at all Key Stages, they enjoy succeeding in developing a deep understanding of this vital subject.

Fieldwork is an important part of ‘real world’ geography, as such we continue to develop a range of opportunities for our students to travel and experience geography first hand. Our trips and experiences can be near and far: the River Chess or Iceland, for example. 

Our approach to the curriculum is built upon the concepts and places outlined in the National Curriculum. In Years 7 to 9, students therefore follow a varied and vibrant dynamic syllabus which helps develop and deepen their knowledge and understanding of the world around them and gets students to ‘think like a geographer’. The progress made in these years allows students to achieve very well at GCSE geography and beyond.

At GCSE, we follow the AQA (9-1). This course is an enquiry based course and comprises of three papers; human, physical and a geographical skills paper. The course contains compulsory fieldwork which takes place towards the end of Year 10 in London. All three exams are at the end of year 11.


 

Long Term Curriculum Overviews

Year 7

Students are challenged in their geography from the start. In their first term they complete a unit on Rivers which incorporates a range of skills such as decision making, field work, map reading, understanding physical processes and landforms, flooding, and synthesising all of this together. 

In the spring and summer terms, students investigate tectonics and volcanoes, population change and rocks and soil, as well as completing an independent project on global cities. 

Recent changes in the National Curriculum have seen a move away from the traditional approach of acquiring information to “making sense of new information through the active construction of knowledge”. Students need the time to explore new information and relate it to what they already know. It is therefore our role to facilitate this learning through various techniques such as map skills, group work, sorting data, ranking information, along with providing opportunities for data analysis and extended writing.

The Year 7 curriculum provides the opportunities listed above, as students not only make sense of the world around them, but also their own local area. The emphasis is on:

  • Locational knowledge

  • Place knowledge

  • Human and physical geography

  • Geographical skills and fieldwork

Learning is supported by an online platform. Homework tasks are varied and set regularly. There are plenty of opportunities for students to develop their own independent self-assessment skills throughout KS3. Summative assessment is mostly test based, and occurs at regular through the academic year, including a summer exam.

Year 8

Year 8 students have developed a range of skills by now which enables them to engage with some of the most important contemporary geographical issues, such as globalisation (Autumn), climate change (Spring) and coastal change (Summer). They are encouraged to draw deeper links across the curriculum (e.g. to Science via their weather and climate studies), and in the future (to Economics and Business Studies via the Economic World unit).

Students remotely visit a range of places such as Bangladesh, Kazakhstan and the Middle East, as well we “going local” with a microclimate investigation and a place-based study of the affects of coastal processes on the Holderness Coast.

Students are also encouraged to make full use of their devices with suites of lessons built around the use of laptops to foster confidence in research, resource use and production of work digitally.

Learning is supported by an online platform. Homework tasks are varied and set regularly. There are plenty of opportunities for students to develop their own independent self-assessment skills throughout KS3. Summative assessment is mostly test based, and occurs at regular through the academic year, including a Summer exam.

Year 9

“As pupils progress, their growing knowledge about the world should help them deepen their understanding of the interaction between physical and human processes”. – The Geographical Association

Year 9 is a critical year for our students, as they have difficult decisions to make when choosing subjects for GCSE. Our curriculum throughout Key Stage 3 aims to provide students with a sense of what is expected at GCSE Level, and many of the topics we study at Key Stage 3 provide the foundation on which GCSE content is delivered.

 

We have a growing emphasis on the skills associated with writing extended answers and analysing graphs and tables; skills that can be transferred across many subject areas. Physical and human geography topics are delivered through a wide range of media and these are consolidated through rigorous assessment - which again helps prepare students for the demands of KS4 life.

ICT continues to be a key element of our Key Stage 3 curriculum and students are encouraged to be creative in their use of their devices to support their geographical learning of topics such as Cold Environments (Spring) and Urbanisation (Summer), as well as places such as China and Japan (Autumn) and Africa (Autumn and Spring). 

Learning is supported by an online platform. Homework tasks are varied and set regularly. There are plenty of opportunities for students to develop their own independent self-assessment skills throughout KS3. Summative assessment is mostly test based, and occurs at regular through the academic year, including a Summer exam.

Year 10 and 11

The Geography Department follows the AQA 9-1 syllabus, which culminates in three exams:

Physical Geography (90 minutes)

Human Geography (90 minutes)

Geographical Skills (75 minutes)

 

This exciting course is therefore based on a balanced framework of physical and human geography. It allows students to investigate the link between the two themes, and approach and examine the battles between the man-made and natural worlds.

 

Students who complete the course will have the skills and experience to progress onto A Level and beyond.

Currently, our Year 10 curriculum ranges from new knowledge in the form of contrasting ecosystems (tropical rainforest and cold environments), to elements that build on prior learning - rivers, tectonics and weather hazards. We also focus on London as our UK city.

We undertake compulsory physical and human geography fieldwork at the end of Year 10 - usually in London. This experience is then reviewed, analysed and evaluated back in the classroom, ready to be assessed at the end of Year 11.

In Year 11, our curriculum covers more of the Paper 2 content - encountering topics covering coastal landscapes, development, economic change in the UK and resource sustainability. Around Easter, students are issued a pre-release issue evaluation booklet, the understanding of which is examined in Paper 3.

Learning is supported with access to the online textbook via Kerboodle.

 

Students are assessed rigorously throughout the course via end of topic tests, a Summer exam at the end of Year 10 and currently two trial exams in Year 11. 

 

The precise order of teaching depends on whether your son or daughter has one or two teachers.

 

Assessments

Paper 1: Living with the physical environment

What's assessed

3.1.1 The challenge of natural hazards, 3.1.2 The living world, 3.1.3 Physical landscapes in the UK, 3.4 Geographical skills

How it's assessed

Written exam: 1 hour 30 minutes

88 marks (including 3 marks for spelling, punctuation, grammar and specialist terminology (SPaG))

35% of GCSE

Questions

Section A: answer all questions (33 marks)

Section B: answer all questions (25 marks)

Section C: answer any two questions from questions 3, 4 and 5 (30 marks)

Question types: multiple-choice, short answer, levels of response, extended prose

 

Paper 2: Challenges in the human environment

What's assessed

3.2.1 Urban issues and challenges, 3.2.2 The changing economic world, 3.2.3 The challenge of resource management, 3.4 Geographical skills

How it's assessed

Written exam: 1 hour 30 minutes

88 marks (including 3 marks for SPaG)

35% of GCSE

Questions

Section A: answer all questions (33 marks)

Section B: answer all questions (30 marks)

Section C: answer question 3 and one from questions 4, 5 or 6 (25 marks)

Question types: multiple-choice, short answer, levels of response, extended prose

 

Paper 3: Geographical applications

What's assessed

3.3.1 Issue evaluation, 3.3.2 Fieldwork, 3.4 Geographical skills

How it's assessed

Written exam: 1 hour 15 minutes

76 marks (including 6 marks for )

30% of GCSE

Pre-release resources booklet made available 12 weeks before Paper 3 exam

Questions

Section A: answer all questions (37 marks)

Section B: answer all questions (39 marks)

Question types: multiple-choice, short answer, levels of response, extended prose

Year 12 and 13

The department follows the AQA A Level in Geography.  This specification excites students’ minds, challenges perceptions and stimulates their investigative and analytical skills. The course is a balance of new units that have been added to reflect the world today, and topics that students will be more familiar with. The course is an excellent stepping stone to a degree course in Geography or a Geography-related subject.

The overall curriculum comprises six taught units divided equally between physical and human geography, and a centre-marked Non-Examined Assessment (NEA) that assesses the students’ ability to individually craft a fieldwork enquiry of their choice.

 

In Year 12 students study the Water and Carbon Cycle and Changing Places - two units that are challenging and novel to students, but we firmly believe establish a strong foundation for studying the other four units. Our Year 12 teaching culminates with a unit on Contemporary Urban Environments. 

Students also undertake a week-long residential field course in Year 12. Here they learn and practice the field skills that they will then employ when they complete their own NEA later in the academic year.

In Year 13 students complete the taught course with units on Hazards, Global Systems and Global Governance and Changing Coastal Environments. Students also complete a comprehensive self-reflection and revision programme as they build towards success in the Summer.

Learning is supported with access to the online textbook via Kerboodle.

Students are assessed regularly throughout the course via end of topic tests, a a UCAS prediction exam at the end of Year 12 and a trial exam in Year 13.

 

Assessment

Component 1: physical geography

What’s assessed

Section A: Water and carbon cycles

Section B Coastal systems and landscapes

Section C Hazards

How it’s assessed: written exam 2hr 20 minutes, 120 marks, 40% of A level

 

Component 2: Human geography

What’s assessed

Section A: Global systems and global governance

Section B: Changing places

Section C: Contemporary urban environments

How it’s assessed: written exam 2hr 20 minutes, 120 marks, 40% of A level

 

Component 3: Geography fieldwork investigation (NEA)

What’s assessed:

Students completed an individual investigation which must include adat collected in the field. The topic must be based on a question or issue defined and developed by the student relating to any part of the specification content. We normally advise to complete on a topic they have studied.

How it is assessed

3-4,000 words, 60 marks, 20% of A-level - Work is Moderated by AQA

'The Big Picture' Curriculum Map

'The Big Picture' Curriculum Map

This document will provide a visual overview of the department's curriculum from Key Stages 3 to 5. This is in a student-friendly format to support them in their understanding the of the department's curriculum. 

Assessment

Department Assessment Matrix

This document will provide an overview for assessment for Key Stages 3, 4 and 5.

 

Key Stage 3 Judgement Descriptors

This document will give you an overview of the criteria for Emerging, Developing, Secure and Mastery judgements at KS3 for this subject.

How can you help your child succeed in geography?

At Key Stage 3 we really value the contribution parents can make to their childrens’ learning by discussing and questioning the topics they have covered. This is especially helpful when revising for tests.

Geography is rarely out of the news: take time to discuss the major issues of the day. Explore the causes and impacts of, and responses to the story. Assess the social, economic and environmental aspects of the story.

At Key Stage 4 and 5, engaging with GCSE and A Level learning through discussion and questioning, as well as purchasing revision guides and using them actively with our students are helpful ways in which parents can be part of the learning process. 

Parents should regularly review exercise book and online work, at Key Stage 4 assessment folders and at A Level study folders. 

Travelling near and far always helps too!

Helpful websites and further information