Geography at St Augustine’s Priory is centered on the idea that, although physical environment may determine which activities people may engage in at a particular location, human activity impacts the wider environment on a broad scale.
In the early years the emphasis is on exploration of the United Kingdom and the pupils’ local area. Key skills include the identification of locations and characteristics of specific places, understanding geographical similarities and differences through studying the human and physical geography of Ealing and London. Students will also begin to understand the fundamental skill of map work and grid co-ordinates through the use of primary fieldwork around our school site and further afield. The students use characters to explore exotic places around the world, including Barnaby Bear and Katie Morag.
The aim of Geography at this stage is to develop the students’ enquiry skills, and to begin to extend their knowledge and understanding beyond the local area to include other areas of the United Kingdom, Europe and North and South America. They should begin to develop their use of geographical knowledge, understanding and skills to enhance their locational and place knowledge through the use of map work and Geographical Information Systems. Topics within the Juniors cover a range of physical phenomena including earthquakes, volcanoes, coasts and rivers, and emphasises the importance of human interactions within our world including issues such as sustainability, deforestation, overpopulation and tourism.
Fieldwork opportunities within the Preps and Juniors:
Fieldwork supports the Geography curriculum by promoting geographical knowledge and understanding. We believe that students learn best about the world by experiencing it. There are several opportunities for fieldwork trips including visits to the Sussex coast, Kew Gardens and the Tropical Rainforest workshop, the River Chess in Amersham, Barnaby Bear exploration workshops, local area fieldtrips to Ealing and our school site, the local farm and many more. We encourage travel and exploration and for the students to share photographs, postcards and stories from countries they have visited throughout their time at St Augustine’s Priory.
Form III to Upper IV (Key Stage 3)
Students continue to develop their understanding of the UK in comparison to contrasting locations through the world. There is a particular emphasis on the physical world and students explore the nature of rivers, coasts, climate and tectonic features. Inseparable from this is the impact that human beings have on the natural world and themes like population growth, urbanisation, migration and tourism are explored.
Environmental concerns covered include issues to do with water, food, energy, waste, climate change and threats to biodiversity.
As Geography is fundamentally about places, studying case studies is also on the agenda at Key Stage 3 with examples being taken from the EU and parts of the world at very different levels of development.
Care is being taken at Key Stage 3 to increase the emphasis on UK case studies and examples to match the demands that will be put on the students at GCSE as the new specifications with greater emphasis on the UK will start in September 2016. Every year group will attend one field trip within the UK.
Lower V to Upper V (Key Stage 4)
All specifications for GCSE Geography have changed as from September 2016. We have chosen GCSE Geography Edexcel B because it is the most engaging course as it is based on global and UK issues. The human topics range from problems facing UK cities to a study of Mumbai as a megacity in an emerging country. The physical topics range from coastal management in the UK to the increase in hurricanes and tropical storms as a result of global warming. This new course also provides us with many fieldwork opportunities in the UK.
Lower VI to Upper VI (Key Stage 5)
Geography at A Level is also changing in September 2016 to include greater emphasis on the UK and the return of coursework based on a UK field trip. The new A-Level covers a range of interesting themes including tectonic hazards and their management, glaciated landscapes, urban regeneration and rural rebranding. We are following the Edexcel linear specification which involves 3 exams at the end of the Upper VI year and one field work write up worth 20% of the A-Level at the end of Lower VI.
The Geography Department contributes greatly to enrichment and the co-curricular provision of the school including the Eco-Schools Club and a variety of fieldwork opportunities.
The Eco-Schools Club takes responsibility for all of the recycling, reusing of materials and efforts to reduce wastage at St Augustine’s Priory. It successfully coordinates a ‘No Paper’ day, a ‘No Electricity’ day and a ‘Walk to School’ week each year, as well as other activities week during Laudato Si’ week.
Another way in which Geography contributes to enrichment and co-curricular provision is via field trips. There are many London based field trips to the Docklands, the River Brent and Hampstead Heath. Field trips to slightly further locations such as the River Chess, Brighton and Aberystwyth and, of course, the field trip to Iceland which does not fail to inspire the young minds at St Augustine’s Priory. Recently, Ms Keep has been given the responsibility of coordinating all trips for the school and Geography has taken the lead in this. Watch this space for more news about forthcoming trips.