Geography

KS3 Intent Statement

The Key Stage 3 Geography curriculum centres upon an understanding of the physical and human processes that shape the world in which students live. The potential for topics is so broad that we have had to be selective in deciding what to include. Ultimately, the aim is to build students’ awareness of the world around them from the local setting to the global. Geography is seen as the bridge between all other subjects, as in encompasses substantive and disciplinary knowledge from a broad range of other academic and vocational areas, as well as having some that is specific to the subject. The wonder of understanding how landscapes and societies have developed over time, and the ability to speculate on how they may change in the future, cannot be gained through any other subject. Everything that the students ever encounter is linked to Geography: the etymology of the word means to write about the Earth; thus, everything on Earth can be considered to be part of Geography. The development of schema regarding scale, physical processes and human processes are threaded throughout the curriculum.

Year 7

The first topic for Key Stage 3 should be about their local area, as this contextualises the main themes of Key Stage 3 Geography within a realm of their personal understanding. Subsequently, students learning about their country and their continent will enable them to access the schema of scale in relation to the content. Core geographical substantive knowledge – such as the names and locations of the seven continents and five oceans, and an overview of geological time periods – is also included in this opening topic (What is Geography?).

Year 7 students then go on to study Rocks, Soils & Weathering, which is the first point where importance of the interrelationships between physical and human processes is emphasised. These interrelationships are not highlighted in the initial topic as students first need to gain an understanding of physical and human processes separately, before enhancing the schema with their interconnectedness. The third topic, Weather & Climate, begins with a basic foundation in the understanding of weather and how it is measured, before moving onto consider climate change and the anthropogenic causes and impacts thereof. This topic was chosen to highlight the dynamic, current nature of the subject.

Following this, Year 7 students move onto studying People of the UK; a primarily human geography topic, used to highlight the links and inequalities between societies at different scales. The British media and prejudices within parts of the local area mean that it is important to try to overcome negative stereotypes of people with different ethnicities, religious beliefs, or nationalities. Year 7’s final topic is What is an Economy?, which is used to build upon schema related to systems processes, that have been introduced earlier in the curriculum, with an example of a system that the students will all become a part of; this makes it relatable to the students. It has been chosen as the final topic to link with the previous one, and because the substantive content is more challenging to master than that of earlier topics.

Year 8

Year 8 is used to deepen and strengthen the schema around the key principles of Geography, whilst adding further substantive content. The year begins with Natural Hazards, as many primary schools include some teaching of this, and so the substantive schema should be developed here. The topic is to enhance students’ understanding of physical and human processes’ interrelationships. Year 8s then study two geographical regions in order to appreciate the diversity of the physical and human landscapes therein. These regions are covered in the topics African Expedition and The Middle East. Africa is chosen as there is a common misconception of Africa being uniform in terms of its landscape, climate, and development. However, it is the most diverse of the seven continents, containing more individual countries than any other and experiencing climatic extremes. The rationale for including the Middle East is that, as an area that is currently developing rapidly in terms of its economic and political magnitude, students are likely to encounter professional links with the Middle East when they reach adulthood.

It is important to teach about the Middle East prior to the fourth topic of Year 8, Development, as the latter encompasses a lot about refugees and Syria; therefore, an overview understanding of the geography and political history of Syria is needed first. Inequalities and diversity are revisited during this fourth topic. Brazil, Year 8’s fifth topic, is the first Key Stage 3 Geography extended case study; this is a subject-specific disciplinary way by which to learn about and mentally collate a range of substantive knowledge about a specific place or event. In this case, students will learn about the ecosystems, demographics, and economy of this large, diverse, and rapidly growing country.

An intentional omission is a discrete topic on map skills: past experience has shown students to disengage during this topic, and it is not particularly pertinent to modern life; however, an understanding of the use and application of map skills is expected within Key Stage 4. Therefore, these skills are woven within the Key Stage 3 topics, building in difficulty from compass directions early on, to the analysis of landscape patterns using contour lines later in the Key Stage. The concluding topic of Year 8 Geography is Geographical Skills. This includes the higher-level map skills mentioned, as well as other disciplinary knowledge, for example: sketch drawing; photograph analysis; decision-making; data harvesting; and statistical analyses.

Year 9

Year 9 Geography begins with Geography for Life. This topic is designed to engage the students in ‘real-life’ applications of Geography – so that the relevance of the subject is made clear to them – while continuing to use the ideas of scale and human processes. Such applications include sport, fashion, and health. Year 9s then embark upon the second extended case study of the Key Stage, China. Brazil was included earlier in the Key Stage as China is the more challenging of the two to understand in terms of both physical processes (such as the range of different climates and environments within the country) and human processes (such as the political history and recent rapid development).

Year 9 students will then move onto three topics, all of which explore geomorphology through similar physical processes, but through different means. These topics are: Water Cycle & Rivers, Coasts, and Glaciation. The schema initiated through processes included in the first of these topics will be built upon throughout all three. Likewise, the interaction between people and these different physical environments. These schema (physical processes, human and environmental interaction) will all have been introduced earlier in the key stage, mostly within Rocks, Soil & Weathering in Year 7, and Natural Hazards in Year 8.

The final Key Stage 3 topic is Fantastic Places; an investigation into some unique landscapes and environments around the world. The purpose of this is develop a sense of awe and wonder in the students, while simultaneously continuing to expand their schema around physical and human processes. Experience has shown that many students in the local area have a relatively narrow view of the world, and so this appreciation of the variation and majesty of other places aims to overcome this.

 

KS3 High-Level Plan

TermY7Y8Y9
1WHAT IS GEOGRAPHY?
• Themes in Geography
• How to be a Geographer
• Tools Geographers Utilise
• Locational Knowledge
• Geographical Enquiry
NATURAL HAZARDS
• What is a Natural Hazard?
• Formation and Impacts of Wind Hazards
• Formation and Impacts of Tectonic Hazards
• Formation and Impacts of Water Hazards
GEOGRAPHY FOR LIFE
• Demographics
• North/South Divide
• Globalisation
• Influence of the Physical Landscape
2ROCKS, SOILS & WEATHERING
• Types of Rocks
• Weathering
• The Rock Cycle
• Geology of the UK
• Soil
AFRICAN EXPEDITION
• Mapping Africa
• Climate and Wildlife of Hot Deserts
• Climate and Wildlife of Savannah
• Climate and Wildlife of Tropical Rainforests
• Climate and Wildlife of Coral Reefs
• Understanding Uganda
CHINA
• China’s Physical Geography
• China’s Climate
• China’s Family Planning Policy
• China’s Population Today
• Harnessing the Physical Environment
3WEATHER & CLIMATE
• Weather vs Climate
• Recording the Weather
• Rain
• UK Weather
• Climate Graphs
THE MIDDLE EAST
• Economic and Cultural Importance of the Middle East
• Physical Geography of the Middle East
• Climate of the Middle East
• Demographics of the Middle East
WATER CYCLE & RIVERS
• The Water Cycle
• Erosion, Transport & Deposition
• River Profiles
• River Landforms
• Rivers & People
4CLIMATE CHANGE
• The Greenhouse Effect
• Evidence of Climate Change
• Causes of Climate Change
• Impacts of Climate Change
• Responses to Climate Change
DEVELOPMENT
• Development Indicators
• Comparing Countries
• Understanding Refugees
• Pros and Cons of Migration
COASTS
• Coastal Erosion
• Coastal Transportation
• Coastal Deposition
• People and the Coast
5PEOPLE OF THE UK
• Our Island Home
• Who Lives in the UK?
• Why Choose the UK?
• Urban and Rural Life
• Geographical Enquiry
BRAZIL
• Brazil’s Climate Zones
• Exploring Amazonia
• How People use the Rainforest
• Brazilian Demographics
• Sustainable Tourism
GLACIATION
• What are Glaciers?
• Shaping the Landscape
• Glacial Landforms
• People & Glaciers
6WHAT IS AN ECONOMY?
• How People Work and Trade
• Sectors of the Economy
• The UK - Connected by Trade
• Globalisation & Containerisation
• Geographical Skills
GEOGRAPHICAL SKILLS
• Map Skills
• Virtual Field Trip
• Using Geographical Sources
• Decision-Making Exercise
FANTASTIC PLACES
• Shaped by Physical Processes
• Driven by Humans
• Extreme Environments

 

KS3 Medium-Term Plans

Year 7

Autumn 1

Autumn 2

Spring 1

Spring 2

Summer 1

Summer 2

 

Year 8

Autumn 1

Autumn 2

 

Year 9

Autumn 1

Autumn 2

Spring 1

Spring 2

Summer 1

 

KS4 Intent Statement

Founded upon the principles established in Key Stage 3, the Key Stage 4 Geography curriculum utilises the AQA GCSE specification. The overarching schema from KS3 – those being, scale, physical processes, and human processes – are further enhanced with this specification. Furthermore, some of the substantive knowledge is also developed in the bridge from KS3 to KS4. AQA was selected, as opposed to alternative examination boards, as it best meets the substantive and disciplinary knowledge needs that we have determined are most important for our students. 

The specification is split into three examinations: physical geography; human geography; and geographical applications. The third element is in lieu of controlled assessment or coursework, and comprises two sections. Each of the other papers contains questions on a variety of topics, with students to answer questions on three topics from each paper. 

Year 10 begins with The Living World, which is a compulsory topic from the specification. This is chosen first as it bears the closest resemblance to specific schema first introduced as part of the KS3 curriculum. Furthermore, previous experience shows that students more readily understand the content, which can help to enhance their confidence as they begin the course. The topic is based upon an understanding of ecosystems and biomes, with particular reference to tropical rainforests and to hot deserts. Both of these biomes have been studied in Year 8 Geography, therefore the grounding schema are already in place. The interrelationships with human processes are also noted within the topic; again, this is something that has been built gradually during KS3. 

The Living World ends with an appreciation of human encroachment upon natural systems. Therefore, it is logical for the second topic studied – which is, again, compulsory – to be Urban Issues & Challenges. Much of this topic surrounds the consequences of the growth of urban areas, both upon society and the environment, which is a link to the previous topic. As part of this topic, students compare the growth, and impacts thereof, of two urban areas, one of which must be in the UK. We use Rio de Janeiro and Bristol for this comparison. The ability to compare detailed information about two specific places was introduced early in KS3, and pushed further in Year 9 with a comparison of Brazil with China. 

As British urban systems form the latter part of Urban Issues & Challenges, we then move onto Physical Landscapes in the UK. Previous teaching has shown that students’ enthusiasm has been better maintained by alternating between physical geography and human geography topics, making the question for us being of which topics to choose, and in what order. Physical Landscapes in the UK is compulsory, though elements of it are optional. It is necessary for students to gain a broad understanding of why different landscapes exist within their home country – reasons including geology, climate, relief, etc. – but, as a school, we can choose to focus upon two of fluvial, coastal, and glacial systems. We have chosen fluvial and coastal landscapes, as these involve schema introduced and developed in the latter topics constituting the Year 9 Geography curriculum. Again, this topic includes consideration of the interaction between physical and human systems, enhancing schema from the first topic and providing a suitable link to the second. 

Fourthly, students investigate The Changing Economic World. The beginning of this topic concerns varying development levels around the world, and the causes thereof. One of the primary causes is the physical landscape and climate of countries, which made them more or less likely to develop economically in the past. Therefore, students can make use of schema from the preceding topic to help them to understand how these elements of geography can inhibit or enhance development opportunities. Within the topic, students are to make detailed reference to a newly emerging economy; for this, we opt for Nigeria, it having the strongest economy in Africa and having the fastest growing GDP in the world. It is important for students to understand that their future careers are likely to have explicit links with – or, at least, have some relationship to – countries that are developing quickly at the moment. As part of the study on Nigeria, students are to consider what may hinder their future growth, including climate change and natural hazards. 

At the end of Year 10, the curriculum deviates from the two main units and to the third examination, Geographical Applications. It is a requirement of the course that students undertake fieldwork, considering both physical and human geography. The trip that we usually run for this is to Hunstanton, in Norfolk. This is chosen because students can complete coastal fieldwork (physical geography, and involving schema from Physical Landscapes in the UK), and also work about urban variation (human variation, and incorporating schema from Urban Issues and Challenges). Thus, it is critical that these topics have already been covered, which is one reason for choosing to interject with the fieldwork at this point. The second reason is one of convenience: the weather is likely to be stable at this time of year, making data collection easier and more efficient. Upon returning to lessons, students need to analyse their collected data in preparation for their unit 3 examination, but are not required to write-up a lengthy piece of coursework. 

The fifth topic, at the beginning of Year 11, is The Challenge of Natural Hazards; this includes tectonic hazards, climatic hazards, and climate change. Therefore, there are clear schematic links to the final topic of Year 10. Natural hazards are studied as part of the Year 8 Geography curriculum, and climate change in Year 7. Thus, the initial schema necessary are already embedded. Students will also build upon the disciplinary knowledge, which began in their KS3, concerning the use of case studies and how to apply knowledge from specific, located examples. In this case, they study two earthquakes in detail (one in Nepal and one in New Zealand), one tropical storm (Typhoon Haiyan, Philippines), and one extreme weather event in the UK (Storm Desmond). Within the topic, issues of water availability – due to storms, drought, and climate change – are also incorporated, which leads to the sixth topic. 

The final topic of those examined in units 1 and 2 is The Challenge of Resource Management. As with the third topic of KS4, this includes optional elements. We choose to focus on water management, as this provides the best schematic link with the previous topic. Moreover, it is an area of particular concern to humanity at large, therefore making it important for students to attain an awareness of. Some of the schema from Physical Landscapes in the UK come into this again (particularly fluvial systems), as well as some from The Challenge of Natural Hazards. 

Finally, students must complete preparation for the other element of their unit 3 examination. This involves an analysis of pre-release information, which is sent to the school in the spring of Year 11 (hence the reason for doing this last). Another reason for leaving this to the end is because it can involve substantive knowledge from any of the previous topics, while having its own disciplinary knowledge of source interpretation and amalgamation. 

The KS4 Geography curriculum is intentionally broad, so as to allow students access to a wide array of substantive knowledge. It covers physical and human geography in equal balance, being interspersed with disciplinary content. 

Medium Term Plan Year 10 Unit 1 The Living World

Medium Term Plan Year 10 Unit 2 The Changing Economic World

Year 11 High Level Plan

 

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