Geography is about our world. It is about how and why places in our world vary; how and why one place experiences tropical storms whilst another doesn’t. How and why some countries suffer the effects of earthquakes and volcanoes whilst we in the UK do not. How and why some countries are richer than others.
Right now, the relevance of Geography is even more apparent. Our planet is under threat in three ways: the impacts of global warming, the increasing pressure on natural resources due to increasing population and the worrying effects of human activity on biodiversity. So the study and application of ideas to reverse current trends is even more important. Geography at Guru Nanak Sikh Academy provides the stimulus for our students to learn and develop their knowledge about these issues, and potentially become decision-makers of the future!
Each of these threats are key topics that are studied across all key stages at GNSA, and make for an exciting syllabus for children to develop their understanding. Other allied topics, such as migration, weather and climate, increasing urbanisation, superpowers and how world trade works help students to join the dots and understand how all these elements are connected.
Another key element of Geography - which sets it apart from many other subjects - is the opportunities that fieldwork provides in learning outside the classroom. It helps build on theory with real life situations that our students can experience, and also gives them a taste of places and people in the wider world.
Geography is a subject that synthesises other subjects. It brings together Chemistry with History, English with Mathematics, Business Studies with Biology. It does so in a relevant, logical way that helps us understand our planet whilst helping to enhance the relevance of these other subjects too.
Here is how our current syllabus looks across all years:
Map skills, tectonic hazards, weather and climate, energy, development, Africa
Population and migration, ecosystems, rivers, coasts, superpowers, globalisation
The Edexcel Geography B GCSE curriculum begins in Year 9 and continues to the end of Year 11. The topics covered reflect the subsequent three 90 minute GCSE examination papers. The first is global geographical Issues, which includes hazardous earth (including atmospheric and tectonic hazards), development dynamics (including a case study on India), and challenges of an urbanising world (including a case study on Mumbai).
The second paper, on UK geographical issues, includes the UK’s evolving UK physical landscape (including coats and rivers) and evolving human landscape (including a case study on Birmingham). The final part of this paper contains questions on both physical and human geography fieldwork. Our fieldwork for this element has been to Buckinghamshire to study river dynamics, and Ealing to compare quality of life within two areas. However, we also conduct residential fieldwork in Surrey to equip students to answer this part of the GCSE.
In Year 9, students also carry out coastal and tectonic fieldwork on the Dorset coast.
The third paper - people and environment Issues - covers people and the biosphere, forests under threat, and consuming energy resources. All three, plus a decision-making exercise, are covered in the exam and require students to analyse documents and come up with justifiable solutions to emerging challenges we face.
Some of the A level syllabus enhances previous knowledge from GCSE, such as management of tectonic hazards. But exciting, new issues like sovereignty and the carbon cycle are also explored. Students also build on their fieldwork skills to conduct their own independent fieldwork on a topic of their choice linked to the syllabus. The fieldwork makes up 20% of the total mark.
Again, three broad areas are studied, which reflect the content of each exam paper. The first is physical geography, including tectonic processes and hazards, coastal processes and change, the water cycle and water insecurity, and the carbon cycle and energy insecurity.
The second area is human geography-related, and includes focus on globalisation, diverse places, superpowers, and migration, identity and sovereignty.
The third ‘synoptic’ paper challenges students to answer questions based on all the other material studied in the previous papers to bring different topics and issues together.