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Geography

The study of geography appeals to young people who want to know about the world.

From the early explorers and map-makers in our colonial history through to the present day, geography is a subject for adventurous and curious people. Both an art and a science, it combines elements of other subjects; a good geographer is a ‘jack-of-all-trades’, an all-rounder who does not wish to be restricted in her studies. As she observes the world around her, she investigates the characteristics of spaces and places using a range of skills, data and approaches.

Questions that Interest Geographers:

  • Why is there such a large difference between the wealth of rich and poor countries?
  • Why is building a dam not always a sustainable way of solving our water needs?
  • Why does Bangladesh flood so severely, so often?
  • Why does climate change?
  • Is it possible to slow down coastal erosion?
  • How many people will become environmental refugees in the 21st century?
  • How will we slow down the global population explosion?
  • How will we keep the lights on in the UK, as well as meeting our carbon targets?
  • Is nature doomed?
  • To what extent is China’s development sustainable?
  • Why does the USA’s ‘Tornado Alley’ have the highest concentration of tornadoes in the world?

Aims of the Department

The Geography Department aims to teach about place; the curriculum is designed so that girls learn about processes and change at the local and regional level, they compare various countries, and they study themes that relate to large areas and affect multiple countries.

Reference is made to local and global ramifications when considering the impacts of change, as global decisions and trends have never before affected so many people. Outdoor learning and fieldwork is central to the discipline as well as working with maps and IT. Ultimately, the department aims to help the pupils of Francis Holland make sense of complex contemporary issues and disputes so that they can add their voice to topical discussions.

After a foundation of skills and knowledge is embedded in Year 7 through to 9, girls that opt to take Geography GCSE study a variety of interesting topics, both human and physical. Lunchtime catch-up sessions are offered for any girl that misses lessons or seeks extra assistance. Older girls are encouraged to take part in mentoring programmes, to assist younger girls. By the time students begin their A-level studies, they are confident and knowledgeable geographers with a passion for the subject. Our sixth form groups are small enough to be able to provide plenty of one-to-one assistance. Girls develop their study skills and become more independent learners. A guided programme of tutoring and support is provided for Oxbridge candidates.

Staff

The department comprises Mr Allan, Head of Department, Mrs Alexander and Miss Mackenzie.

Our latest trip to Iceland

 

Curriculum Years 7 - 9

Year 7

  • World Maps & Ordnance Survey Maps
  • The Geography of the British Isles
  • Rivers
  • Flooding
  • Fieldwork – Rivers and Flooding investigation
  • Population
  • A project – an extreme environment

Year 8

  • Urban Geography & London
  • Field Trip – Tour of the City
  • Rural Geography
  • Weather
  • Coasts
  • Fieldwork – Coastal Studies, Sussex
  • Writing up an investigation
  • Tourism & Leisure

Year 9

  • Plate Tectonics
  • Trip – Natural History Museum
  • Development
  • Comparing India and China
  • Ecosystems
  • Environmental issues
  • Brazil

Curriculum GCSE

Girls who opt to study geography at GCSE level are prepared for the OCR (A) specification. As well as studying various topics and case studies, map skills and data handling skills are improved throughout the course. An investigation involving fieldwork is carried out in High Wycombe and this is written up back at school.

Girls study the following in Year 10:

  • Hot, desert environments
  • Mountain environments
  • Earthquakes
  • Settlement & Development
  • Comparing London & Mumbai
  • Population change

In Year 11 girls study:

  • Energy issues
  • Fieldwork – East London
  • Local Area Investigation
  • Economic Geography – production and consumption
  • Sustainability

Outline of the course and how it is assessed:

UnitDescription

A731

Contemporary Themes in Geography

Written paper

1 hour 45 minutes - 112 marks

SPaG assesed 50% of the qualification

Tiered question papers

Candidates answer all questions

A732

Geographical Skills

Written paper

1 hour 15 minutes - 50 marks

25% of the qualification

Tiered question papers

Candidates answer all questions

A733

Local Geographical Investigation

Controlled assesment

50 marks

25% of the qualification

 

Curriculum A Level

Girls who opt to do geography at A level study a course that is extremely topical. The Edexcel speciļ¬cation is designed to address key ideas and debates in our world today, such as climate change, globalisation, urban regeneration and management of the world’s resources. Students will explore a range of issues and examine potential solutions to them. The course is assessed by examination only in June 2014 and June 2015 for AS and A2 respectively. Fieldwork is carried out on a residential fieldtrip in Year 12. This year the A level Geography Trip to Somerset (Nettlecombe Court Field Centre) is in the October half term and includes visits to local villages and Taunton. In previous years fieldwork has taken place in Shropshire and Birmingham.

The Geography department organises an international trip for sixth-formers and Year 11 students. The Geography Tour 2014 will be to the US South West in the October half term and A level Geographers will be given many opportunities to learn more about issues that relate to their course.

Beyond the Classroom

Geography Tour

The Geography Department runs an international trip that is open to any girl in the sixth form (non-geographers included) and Year 11 girls who study Geography GCSE. Although the trip is of real benefit to girls that study geography, it does not include compulsory fieldwork and sixth-formers studying other subjects will find that it provides them with opportunities to learn and enjoy unique experiences.

The tour includes visits to some of the US’s most impressive sights and National Parks in the “Grand Circle” region including Las Vegas, the Hoover Dam and Lake Mead, the Grand Canyon National Park, Vermillion Cliffs, Marble Canyon, Cathedral Wash, Navajo Bridge Horseshoe Bend, Arizona Antelope Canyon, Glen Canyon Dam, Coral Pink Sand Dunes, Bryce Canyon National Park and Zion National Park.

Geography explains the past, illuminates the present and prepares us for the future. What could be more important than that?

Michael Palin (Ex President of the Royal Geographical Society)

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