In Geography our aim is to cultivate an understanding of the physical and human processes which shape our world both today and in the future. Our dynamic and challenging curriculum is grounded in our core principles: sustainability, sense of place, interdependencies and futures and uncertainties. It is designed to let students engage with the wider world and to produce well-informed, confident and responsible global citizens. Our curriculum is designed to be hands-on and skills-based allowing all students to effectively understand and explore the world around them.
Key Stage 3
Our KS3 curriculum is sequenced to enable students to build on their geographical skills, prior knowledge and understanding. It is knowledge-rich, allowing students to build awareness of locations, places and environments at a range of scales. We engage students with critical, up to date issues and concepts using a broad spectrum of resources from OS maps, geographical journals to GIS. We provide students with the tools to develop their skills and confidence to enable them to become enquiring and independent learners. Geographical skills and key terminology are embedded throughout KS3. Fieldwork opportunities in the local area allow students to develop a clear understanding of a route to enquiry and grow their sense of place.
Students begin by building on their existing geographical skills, providing a solid base from which to develop their understanding. An introduction and understanding of natural resources provides a sound base on which to build our physical systems topics throughout KS3 and beyond. Our first physical systems unit on rivers is designed to not only further the students’ understanding of geographical processes but also to begin to build their sense of place and spatial awareness by studying both the UK and other major global rivers. Students will explore Asia both building on their understanding of this region through its major physical features, including biomes and topography, but also to understand the urban geography and inter-connectivity of people and places. In the summer term students will be introduced to geographical enquiry through a school-grounds based investigation.
We continue to build and expand on their geographical skills and knowledge gained in year 7 by furthering students’ understanding of physical processes, interconnectivity and sustainability. Our second continent study on Africa will allow students to explore its many contrasting regions. This leads into a study of Hans Rosling’s Factfulness and the challenges of sustainable development. Students are able to explore the complex reasons of varying degrees of development across the world, including the geography of disease, but also to understand the great gains which have taken place over the last 50 years and also the priorities for the future. Our second physical systems unit on coasts builds on students’ understanding of geographical processes, again using both diverse UK and global examples. Weather and climate then further enhances students core geographical knowledge. Climate studies on the tropical rainforest and hot deserts allow students to explore the direct impact climate has on both the human and physical geography of a region. Another geographical enquiry is carried out in the summer term based in Berkhamsted building on the students’ understanding of their local place.
This year students explore and stretch their geographical abilities further by being introduced to some of the more complex areas of geographical study exploring interdependencies and futures in further depth. Students begin with an in-depth global understanding of the climate crisis and look at the causes, global implications and future uncertainties. Glaciation and cold environments are used within this unit to exemplify the pace of change and potential impacts. Our unit on conflict considers the ever changing complexities of geopolitics and introduces students to the Middle East region. A study of globalisation, with a focus on fast fashion encourages students to consider how their own choices have both positive and negative consequences. Our final physical systems topic looks at tectonics considering both the physical processes and an understanding of the impact that development can have on the severity of tectonic events.
Key Stage 4
Geography GCSE is a popular choice at Ashlyns and is an exciting and engaging course taught by geography specialists. We deliver the AQA specification. Our KS3 curriculum has been designed to promote the skills, independence and geographical understanding needed to succeed at GCSE and beyond.
The GCSE course is 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 continue to build on their geographical knowledge and skills throughout whilst exploring a wide range of holistic and dynamic topics. As part of the course students will carry out two days of fieldwork one on the River Chess and another at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in London. Students also have the exciting opportunity of an Iceland trip at Easter in Year 10.
Over the two years of KS4, students continue to develop their understanding of the world, studying physical topics including; The challenges of natural hazards, The living world and Physical landscapes in the UK. Human topics studied include; Urban issues and challenges, Changing economic world and The challenge of resource management.
Key Stage 5
At KS5, students gain a detailed understanding of the issues, concepts and processes. This academic and rigorous course promotes a true understanding of interconnectedness of physical and human systems through its synoptic themes of: Players, Attitudes and Actions, and Futures and Uncertainties.
Students will explore the following topics at A Level;
Tectonic processes/hazards and coastal landscapes,
Physical Systems and Sustainability
The water cycle/water insecurity and the carbon cycle/energy security,
Globalisation and regenerating places
Global Development and Connections
Superpowers and health, human rights and intervention.
Students also complete an independent investigation (worth 20%) with a title of their choice. Students must complete 4 days of compulsory fieldwork prior to designing their NEA, which we currently carry out as a residential trip to Swanage in the summer term of Year 12.
Learning beyond the classroom
Offering a wide range of fieldwork opportunities both in the local area and nationally in contrasting areas to our own setting gives students a wealth of opportunities to develop skills and build an awareness of locations, places and environments at a range of scales. Students are also invited to participate in our annual Iceland trip in Year 10 & Year 12.
At KS3, students are encouraged to participate in our lively and inclusive weekly ‘Planet Earth Club’ which provides them with the opportunity to explore subjects in greater depth and is fully student-led. Previous activities have included entering the RGS Young Geographer of the Year competition and the British Antarctic Territory design a stamp competition.
At Ashlyns, we believe that the development of students’ love of learning is of central importance in our curriculum. In order to give students every opportunity to develop this, we have developed a Challenge Curriculum which provides the opportunity for students to enhance their learning across the subjects. The activities contained within the Challenge Curriculum are for students to undertake independently, and take lots of forms, including watching films or clips, visiting museums, conducting independent research, listening to podcasts, and watching lectures online. They are by no means exhaustive, and we encourage all activities that enable students to engage with subjects beyond the classroom and further their learning. Students should let their teachers know which activities they have completed, and are able to earn merits for doing so.