At Samuel Whitbread Academy, we aim to bring Geography into the classroom. We aim for students to see the world from their seats. We aim to inspire and aspire, and demonstrate that learning is continuous, just as changes in our world are.
Our curriculum has a high expectation of pupils and aims to develop empathy, integrity and respect for the world: to strive and be the best that we can be. We intend for our students to recognise our shared values with others’ around the world and to challenge stereotypes, no matter what our race, religion, gender or political views are. Students develop an understanding of the outside world, from Shefford to China, Cambridge to Zambia, and London to Istanbul; as well as recognise and embrace our diverse populations.
Geography is a broad-ranging subject of skills and knowledge. At Samuel Whitbread Academy, we instil core geographical skills, focusing on our physical environment and how human interactions in history have shaped who we are today. We aim to create a generation of geographers who will share their love for the world with their children and grandchildren, and learn the key skill of teamwork. We also aim to develop learners who build confidence in their own abilities, learning about the world they are living in, and providing them real world experiences so that they have the skills they need to travel, recognise and accept cultural differences, and have a successful career. Students will also learn about the importance of our own culture, and our democratic rights as citizens of the world.
Our curriculum aims to create cultured, creative and motivated individuals who sustainably interact with their world, foster a passion for its diversity, and play a role in shaping its future.
Our geography lessons are structured with key learning strategies to enable students to excel. Each geography lessons begins with a ‘Geog Your Memory’ strategy. This aims to evoke pupil’s memory, critically think about the content we have learned, and discuss the geographical content to make links to future learning. Discussion is key to the development of verbal skills and ideas, and students receive feedback from their peers and teachers to ensure they can move to their next step of challenge. At Samuel Whitbread Academy, we also have a key focus on developing pupil’s literacy and reading skills so that they can access the best geography has to offer. Students lessons are regularly based upon challenging and specific reading tasks to be used as a learning tool. Home learning and remote learning follows this same theme, with all subject material for Geography highly accessible for students through Google Classroom and our GCSE and A-Level Learning Platforms. We aim to ensure pupil’s get the best possible opportunity to build on their learning inside and outside the classroom, and therefore our department’s homework strategy is based on recall, retrieving knowledge already visited, and acting on that knowledge to embed it into student’s long-term memory.
KS3 Curriculum: Year 9
The Year 9 curriculum aims to instil high challenge and familiar geographical ideas which are the ‘building blocks’ for success and progress in geography. Students start the year by completing a baseline enquiry which aims to ensure that every pupil has the skills and knowledge from Years 7 and 8 they need to progress through the remainder of Key Stage 3. The baseline enquiry is used to identify knowledge and skills gaps, which teachers work with our students on to ensure these areas are developed. Students in Year 9 start their ‘Development’ topic, investigating the economic, social, cultural and environmental development of different world nations, with a particular focus on Ghana. After 8 weeks of focus on development levels, students begin their second topic, ‘Risky World’. This topic aims to build on the skills and knowledge students have gained from Development, assessing the risks the world suffers from. These risks include earthquake and volcanic events, tsunamis, climate change, and wildfires. Through both of these topics, students learn the key skills of assessing cause and impact, making decisions on wealth and poverty issues, and developing the values of empathy and compassion for our fellow humans.
Students in Year 9 go on to further develop their knowledge of place, the value of location, and the different dynamics of geography; both physical and human. Students study the ‘Ecosystems’ topic in the Spring term. This creates good links for students to their study of Biology in Science; students learn the value of ecosystems, the use of Tropical Rainforests, and the importance of the equatorial regions to the world’s geography. Finally, in Summer term, students take a look at the world’s major cities and their role in the modern society through the topic ‘Urban Futures’. Students learn about the ever-expanding role of cities, the causes and consequences of population growth, and focus on two major cities – Birmingham and Istanbul. This unit develops students graphical and data skills to make comparisons between places.
KS4 Curriculum: Year 10
In Year 10, students start their learning with the awe-inspiring ‘Global Hazards’ unit. This unit makes good links and develops retrieval knowledge to students Key Stage 3 learning. We study volcanoes and earthquakes, developing knowledge specifically on the Haiti 2010 earthquake event. We develop an understanding and empathy for the vulnerability of citizens around the world. Another unit of study in Year 10 is ‘The UK in the 21st Century’. Our aim through the teaching of this unit is for students to understand their own geographical locality, to develop a sense of place, and understand the challenges and opportunities that the UK faces. This unit combines the UK’s history, economic opportunity, and cultural values. The final unit of study in Year 10 is ‘Distinctive Landscapes’. This is another UK focussed unit split into rivers and coastal landscapes. This is a core physical geography unit, and students gain understanding of the reasons for our landscapes being shaped the way they are today. This unit also allows us to increase students ‘cultural capital’, allowing us to complete mandatory fieldwork at Walton-on-the-Naze.
Year 11 of the GCSE course allows students to build on their gained knowledge and skills from both Key Stage 3 and Year 10. Students begin their learning this year with the unit ‘Changing Climate’. This unit is at the very heart of geography today; our biggest challenge and threat around the world. Students gain an understanding of natural versus human enhanced climate change, as well as what we can do to reduce our own carbon footprint and impacts of the world’s climate. Students also learn to differentiate places of the world that are more threatened and at risk from climate change. Students build on this knowledge by also learning the ‘Dynamic Development’ unit; one which aims to develop knowledge about different types of countries, their cultural values, wealth and poverty, and how less developed nations around the world benefit from the generosity of nations such as the UK. Students learn that often, the major challenges of these countries are their lack of access to safe water, reliable energy and a variety of foods. This unit makes great links to our final GCSE unit, ‘Resource Reliance’. This unit builds on pupils understanding of challenges in the world, whilst also developing cartographical, numerical and data skills. It enables to pupils to make broad comparisons between nations, and the role of the UK in the world.
Our Intent and Implementation aim to ensure that all geography students gain knowledge and understanding of how the world works.
Students are regularly assessed to check their understanding and progress within each of the units they are taught in Key Stages 3 and 4.
Our assessments include:
- Class based exam assessments (mid and end-of-unit assessments).
- Class based peer and self-assessments.
- Home based assessment in the form of revision and recall homework.
- Mock and IPE exams throughout Year 10 to 13.
The Geography department consistently and regularly provide feedback to our students through our book scrutiny process, ensuring that all of our learners make progress through their topic-based learning.
One of the key ways we measure our success as a geography department and for our students is through the uptake of our subject at GCSE and A-Level, and those progressing to university and apprenticeship schemes in geography related careers. The number of students taking GCSE geography at Samuel Whitbread Academy continues to be above 300 students every Year, and we currently have over 600 students studying GCSE Geography. At A-Level, there are currently over 110 students in both Year 12 and Year 13. The number of students continuing to study and work in geography related careers has risen in recent years, with 12 students progressing to study geography at university in 2021.
At Samuel Whitbread Academy, our success as a geography department relies on the enthusiasm students have for our subject, our lessons, and their voices are vital in our continuing growth.
Year 9 - Geography Curriculum Presentation
- KS3 - Year 9 Curriculum Sequencing
- KS4 - Year 10 Curriculum Sequencing
- KS4 - Year 11 Curriculum Sequencing
Subject Learning Checklist
Specification and past papers
Sample of Students Work
GCSE Geography students undertake two mandatory fieldtrips as part of their GCSE course. Currently, GCSE students visit Walton-on-the-Naze in Essex to conduct a physical geography enquiry at the end of Year 10. Students in Year 11 then visit Cambridge City Centre to undertake a human geography enquiry.
Students who progress further onto A Level enjoy other fieldtrips such as a 5-day residential trip to Swanage on the south coast, as well as the London Docklands.
Outside of these, there are other enrichment opportunities in Geography.
According to the Royal Geographical Society (RGS), ‘Geography graduates are very employable, with the skills, knowledge and understanding gained during a geography degree are held in high regard by employers’. Geography offers a high level of transferrable skills, meaning that it can create pathways such as:
- Geography Teacher or Lecturer
- Urban Planner
- Quantity Surveyor
- Geographical Information Systems Officer
- International Development Officer
- Conservation Officer
- Environmental Consultant
- Social Researcher
- Market Researcher
- Political Analyst
For more information on career pathways in Geography, visit this website.