Geography is studied by all students until the end of the Third Year. It then becomes an option subject and has become the most popular GCSE option subject in the school.
The First, Second and Third Year students undertake a broad and exciting curriculum, which currently includes topics such as tropical rainforests, crime, hazards and a number of investigations into a variety of different countries. Students develop their understanding of the physical and human processes, which shape our planet. This provides a balance between topics concerned with the natural environment and those that are linked to economic, social and political issues. They also develop their ability to interpret a variety of data sources such as maps, graphs, charts, articles and photographs. We also introduce students to the necessary techniques and skills required in order to carry out a successful fieldwork investigation.
At GCSE, students are able to further develop their knowledge of particular themes, such as climate change, urban challenges and the earths structure. The course is balanced between physical and human topics and covers many topical issues such as glacial landforms, our changing economic world and extreme weather. Students also get the opportunity to carry out a number of investigations, collecting first hand fieldwork data. An optional fieldtrip to Iceland takes place during the summer between Fourthand Fifth Year. The opportunity to experience beautiful scenery and to learn about the formation of a number of fantastic landforms is one taken by approximately 75 students each year.
The new AQA A Level course in the Lower Sixth has proved to be very popular and seeks to build on foundations laid at GCSE Level. The exam style includes short answer questions, in which students need to develop their understanding of processes and their ability to analyse unseen material and to assess content alongside their own knowledge. It also includes longer essay questions that encourages evaluative thinking and reasoning to build on their case study knowledge. An individual piece of coursework is required and students are given the opportunity to collect data or simply to learn possible fieldwork techniques on a number of trips during the year. This includes two separate visits to the south coast, a day of fieldwork in East London and numerous small trips in the local area (for example into Addlestone for the ‘Changing Places’ unit). Student then collect their own fieldwork data during their summer holiday, based on a topic most of interest to them, in a location that is fully their choice.
The AQA course is an exciting syllabus which studies hazards, population and environment, coastal landscapes, global systems of global governance, water and carbon cycles and changing places. The material covered includes both physical and human geography. Students cover a huge range of concepts and ideas, with links to the sciences in physical geography, politics and economics in human geography; as well as many other subjects. Indeed the students studying A Level geography could be doing two sciences or two other humanities alongside it – both of which are suitable and appropriate choices.
The Geography Department is made up of six full time and one part time members of teaching staff. Five of the staff currently teach A Level, where each class will have two teachers (one for human geography and one for physical). Students may be asked to prepare presentations to give to the rest of the class, or they could be involved with group work, debates or global summits. We are situated in the Henderson Centre (the same building as the Sixth Form Centre), with five purpose built class rooms, including one with ICT provision. We pride ourselves on maintaining a friendly relationship with all our students, whilst always ensuring we challenge them to work to the very best of their ability.
The department is very keen on the use of computers and students are encouraged to make positive use of the available resources. We are aware of the need to encourage thinking skills as well as developing citizenship and an awareness of social, moral, cultural and spiritual issues. Many students go on to read Geography at University and Geography graduates have enjoyed one of the highest rates of employment from any degree.