The Geography Team aims to provide the best possible geographical learning experience for our students both within and outside of the classroom. Our curriculum enables all students to develop a sense of wonder at the beauty of the natural world and the power of natural processes.
Through the use of a wide variety of high quality resources, we aim to instil an appetite for the discovery of the world. We nurture a range of transferable skills to enable students to confidently face the opportunities and challenges of life beyond school. Teaching and learning strategies are adopted that encourage questioning and critical thinking to enable students to develop informed and balanced viewpoints, whilst understanding the effects of their decisions. We aspire to develop global citizens who recognise the responsibility they have to other people as well as to the sustainability of our planet, in a rapidly changing world.
We are continuously reviewing our curriculum with the view of fully engaging our learners in relevant, interesting geographies. We place a strong emphasis on fieldwork since we feel that these opportunities are an essential part of a pupil’s geographical education. Currently we run a number of ALDs (Advanced Learning Days) including trips to Kew Gardens, Hunstanton, Birmingham and London. Post-16 students also enjoyed a five day residential in Wales and a very successful fieldtrip to Iceland.
Students study six term-long units throughout Key Stage 3.
Unit 1: Linked Places (Autumn Term)
Students develop a range of cartographic skills throughout this unit, including how and why symbols are used on maps and how we can accurately locate places using grid references. Students also explore different techniques such as topological mapping and how we can use Geographic Information Systems (GIS) to explore data. Students study the growth of Milton Keynes as a new town. The unit concludes with an exploration of the process of globalisation.
Unit 2: Landscape Change (Spring Term)
This unit gives students a deeper understanding of physical Geography. It begins with a study of how global scale processes have shaped the Earth's surface - continental drift, the formation of fold mountains and the physical features of volcanoes. Students learn how to show height on maps, how to interpret contour lines and how to construct a cross-section through the landscape. Students then understand the role of water, ice and the wind in eroding the Earth's surface and the creation of distinctive landforms.
Unit 3: Unequal Places (Summer Term)
Students learn what we mean by development and the various ways in which this can be measured. They examine why the development gap exists and issues surrounding debt, trade and aid in developing countries. India is used as a case study to look at squatter settlements and how life is different for the people who live there.
Unit 4: Threatened Places (Autumn Term)
The underlying theme to this unit is the way in which humans interact with the environment to bring about positive or negative change. Students understand the term biome and then study the vegetation of the tropical rainforest and how plants and animals are adapted to life there. Students explore the reasons for deforestation and the effects this has on people and the environment. A study is also taken of the impacts of tourism in both the savanna and coral reef ecosystems. The concept of sustainability is applied to the threats facing the continent of Antarctica.
Unit 5: Dangerous Places (Spring Term)
Students are given the opportunity to understand a variety of natural hazards from around the world. In pairs students research a recent natural hazard and present this to the class as a short presentation. Students study the causes, effects and responses to hurricanes, tornadoes and tectonic processes. Students further develop their map skills by tracking the movement of hurricanes using longitude and latitude.
Unit 6: Changing Places (Summer Term)
This unit explores the idea of our changing climate and whether this is a natural or man-made phenomena. The causes, effects and responses of change are examined at a variety of scales. China is then studied as a country that is undergoing rapid change and students are given the opportunity to complete a research project on any aspect of China at the end of the Summer Term.
We currently follow the AQA GCSE specification (8035). For the students who opt to study Geography at GCSE, there are three examined units:
Paper 1 (88 marks) 1 hour 30 minutes (35% of GCSE)
Paper 2 (88 marks) 1 hour 30 minutes (35% of GCSE)
Paper 3 (76 marks) 1 hour 15 minutes (30% of GCSE)
Question types: multiple-choice, short answer, levels of response and extended prose (12 marks).
Paper 1 - Living with the physical environment
The challenge of natural hazards - Types of hazard and hazard risk. Plate tectonic theory, volcanoes and earthquakes. Global circulation of the atmosphere, tropical storms and extreme weather in the UK. Possible causes of climate change, its effects and responses.
The living world - Small scale ecosystems in the UK. Characteristics of the tropical rainforest and causes and impacts of deforestation. Sustainable management of the tropical rainforest. Hot deserts.
Physical landscapes in the UK - Coastal landscapes – how rock type, structure and physical processes create distinctive coastal landforms. Coastal management. River landscapes – fluvial landforms and flood management schemes.
Paper 2 - Challenges in the human environment
Urban issues and challenges - Global patterns of urban change and megacities. Case study of a city in a LIC (Low Income Country) or NEE (Newly Emerging Economy). Case study of a major city in the UK. Features of sustainable urban living.
The changing economic world - Different economic and social measures of development and the Demographic Transition Model. The causes and consequences of uneven development. Strategies to reduce the global development gap. Rapid economic development in a LIC or NEE. Economic change in the UK.
The challenge of resource management - Global inequalities in food, water and energy. The changing demand and provision of food, energy and water in the UK. Global patterns of water surplus and deficit. Impacts of water insecurity. Sustainable water supplies.
Paper 3 - Geographical applications
This is a synoptic exam and has two parts:
Issue evaluation – students will be required to draw together knowledge, understanding and skills from the full course of study. Students will be provided with a pre-released booklet of resources (12 weeks before the exam) which will include a range of resources (maps at different scales, diagrams, graphs, statistics, photographs, satellite images, sketches, extracts from published materials and quotes from different interest groups). Students will use these resources within the exam to analyse a geographical issue at a range of scales, consider and select a possible option in relation to the issue(s) and justify their decision.
Fieldwork - Students will be required to complete two pieces of fieldwork in contrasting environments. This will involve a compulsory day trip towards the end of Year 10. Students will answer questions about these fieldwork experiences in the exam.
How is numeracy incorporated into the GCSE?
Mathematical and statistical techniques will be an integral part of the GCSE Geography course and will include:
Cartographic skills - The use of a range of maps, atlases, Ordnance Survey maps satellite imagery and Geographical Information Systems (GIS). An understanding of:
- gradient, contours, spot heights, cross sections and transects
- use of coordinates, scale and distance
- choropleth, flow-line and isoline maps
Graphical skills - The drawing and interpretation of bar charts, pie charts, pictograms, line charts, histograms and population pyramids.
Numerical skills - An understanding of:
- number, area and scale
- proportion and ratio, magnitude and frequency
Statistical skills - An understanding of:
- central tendency, spread and cumulative frequency (median, mean, range, quartiles and inter-quartile range, mode and modal class)
- percentage increase or decrease and the use of percentiles
- relationships in bivariate data: trend lines and lines of best fit
When are the topics taught over the three year GCSE?
- The challenge of natural hazards
- The challenge of resource management
- Physical landscapes of the UK – River Landscapes
- Urban issues and challenges
- Physical landscapes of the UK – Coastal Landscapes
- Hunstanton fieldwork follow-up
- The changing economic world
- The living world
- Issue evaluation
- Final revision
Secondary Geography Quality Mark
In September 2012, Walton High became one of 45 schools to be awarded the Secondary Geography Quality Mark (SGQM). The award recognises excellence in the teaching and learning of Geography.
The Geography Team has worked tremendously to achieve and retain this award. The award examined various aspects of the department including our curriculum offering, how we gather the views of our learners to improve teaching and learning and how we develop enquiry based learning. Moderators were particularly impressed by the way we had embraced the new opportunities afforded by the curriculum changes at Key Stage 3.
This award should only be seen as a starting point for us. We wish to build on its successes over the next few years to drive further change.
Further information about the award can be accessed at: